This document applies to everyone in the Clinton Christian Reformed Church (Clinton CRC) and pertains to all on and off-site activities.
Each time a child is baptized, we are reminded of these words of Christ:
“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mark 10:14 NIV)
As the congregation of Clinton Christian Reformed church, we respond to the following question: “Do you, the people of the Lord, promise to receive these children in love, pray for them, help instruct them in the faith and encourage and sustain them in the fellowship of believers?” by answering: “We do, God helping us.” (Form for Baptism of Children). Since we are a family of believers, we share the responsibility to care for and protect one another.
The purpose of the Safe Church Policy, Response and Resources document is:
- To prevent harm to the vulnerable attendees of our church programs.
- To provide an environment for all ministry workers (paid & volunteers) that allows them to do their work without the threat of false accusation or suspicion.
- To respond diligently and in a caring and supportive manner to all persons involved when an allegation of abuse has been made.
A ministry provider is any person who serves in any program connected to the Clinton CRC. This includes, but is not limited to pastors, paid staff, all ministry leaders and volunteers, child care providers, council, etc.
All ministry providers, paid and volunteer staff will be required to complete Police Check screening through the Ontario Provincial Police. You will be notified by the Clinton CRC Administrative Secretary to complete your screening. All screening documentation will be filed securely and confidentially.
- Have been a member of the Clinton CRC for a minimum of 6 months.
- Over the age of 18 years are screened which includes the completion of a Police Criminal Record Check and a Vulnerable Sector Check – which is available online.
- Under that age of 18 years do not require screening but may not volunteers in ministries without adult supervision.
- Will renew their screening every 5 years.
- Will participate in orientation and ongoing training that focuses on abuse awareness and prevention.
- Will follow the Discipline Policy included in the Resource section of this document.
- Will sign a statement that they understand and agree to abide by the Safe Church policy. Failure to honour that agreement will result being unable to participate in ministries at Clinton CRC.
- Will fill in the Safe Church attendance forms per ministry meeting. The Administrative Secretary will retrieve these forms as needed.
- Affection/physical encouragement should only be expressed in public and be limited to actions such as a brief hug, an arm around the shoulder, an open-handed pat on the back, a handclasp or handshake, or a light touch on the forearm. A child’s/youth’s or teacher’s/leader’s right to refuse any of these will be respected.
- Volunteers/staff ordinarily should not physically restrain a child in their care. Leaders should ask for assistance if a child behaves in a manner that seems to require restraint. If the leader is needed, the child’s parent/guardian will be notified immediately and the child may be removed from the class until the parent arrives.
Specifics per Ministry:
Child Care (including during worship services, Bible Studies, etc.)
At least two (2) adult child care providers should serve for each session of child care provided. These two child care providers are not to be spouses/partners.
Infants – 1 adult to no more than 4 infants
Toddlers – 1 adult to no more than 4 toddlers
When this ratio is exceeded, more adults must be brought in to help. These additional helpers are required to have screened and their names must be added to the Safe Church attendance form for later reference in case of an allegation of abuse. Only those scheduled or brought in as additional help should be in the Child Care area.
- Children should only leave the Child Care area for reasons such as to use the bathroom or in case of illness.
a. Bathroom use:
i. Only adults should assist children with bathroom needs.
ii. For children not requiring assistance, the adult must remain outside the bathroom.
iii. For children requiring assistance, the adults must assist the child with the bathroom door ajar.
iv. Diapering of an infant or toddler must take place with another adult in view.
b. Illness: Any significant medical problem should be reported immediately to the child’s parent(s)/guardians
2. Only those who signed in the child or that have the child’s corresponding tag/pager may take the child from the child care area.
Sunday School, Catechism and Vacation Bible School:
Ratios: 2 adults to no more than 15 children
1. Volunteers should not meet alone with a child without another adult nearby to observe.
2. Volunteers in one classroom are not to be spouses/partners.
3. Doors to the classroom area should allow for an unobstructed view of the room.
4. Children should only leave the Child Care area for reasons such as to use the bathroom or in case of illness.
a. Bathroom use:
i. Children will be encouraged to use bathroom facilities before and after class.
ii. Only adults should assist children with bathroom needs.
iii. For children not requiring assistance, the adult must remain outside the bathroom.
iv. For children requiring assistance, the adults must assist the child with the bathroom door ajar.
5. Junior Sunday School children (ages 3-Grade 2) will not be permitted to leave the classroom unless they are signed out by a parent or guardian.
6. Church volunteers or staff transporting a child in a personal vehicle must have parental permission to do so.
GEMS and Cadets:
Ratios: 2 adults to no more than 15 children
1. Club leaders should establish a written policy to identify and discourage abusive behaviour among minors in their program. They should also establish a plan on how to deal with abusive behaviour. Both the written policy and plan must be approved by the Safe Church Team.
2. Counselors should provide adequate supervision of the Cadets/GEMS. Each club function should be supervised by at least two persons, an adult leader and another volunteer at least four years older than the oldest club member.
3. Counselors and Cadets/GEMS may meet privately once or twice and thereafter only with the permission of a parent/guardian. Any such meeting should occur in a public place.
4. If a child needs significant medical attention, the counselor(s) must take all reasonable steps to notify the parent(s)/guardian immediately.
5. Club members should not arrive more than ten minutes before the start of class, nor should they stay longer than ten minutes after the class.
6. Churches that plan club activities away from the church facility, out of town, or overnight should conduct them in general compliance with aforementioned policies.
7. Sleepovers, camping or other overnight events should only be allowed when all supervisors and volunteers are fully screened. Two adult rule applies at all times.
8. Signed parental consent and permission for off-premises or overnight events must be obtained. Two adult rule applies at all times.
9. Completed attendance records for supervisors/volunteers/youth are to be turned over to the administrative secretary for filing at the end of each season (April 30).
10. Two Counsellors must remain at club activities until parents/guardians have picked up all children.
1. Each year youth group leaders should hold a class about abuse for members of the youth group. Topics for this class might include date violence, biblical guidelines for dating relationships, awareness of the signs of abuse, a teenager’s response to a teenage victim or abuser, or prevention of abuse.
2. Youth group leaders may meet privately with a youth group member once or twice and thereafter only with the permission of a parent/guardian. Any such meeting should occur in public.
3. Regardless of the relative ages, it is never appropriate for a youth group leader and a youth group member to date each other. Similarly, a youth group leader should not date the close friend of a member of the youth group.
4. Youth group leaders may be single or they may be married couples, although only one spouse need attend a youth group function.
5. In the context of group activities, youth group leaders should provide supervision of the youth in their care. Youth group leaders should not hold a youth group function without appropriate or sufficient supervision. Youth group functions must be under the supervision of more than one youth group leader. These guidelines also apply to activities away from the church site.
6. No gifts, phone calls, texts, or letters of a personal nature should be directed to a youth group member by a youth group leader, unless done with the approval of the Safe Church Team. Any social media contact must be done in a group setting, with more than one leader.
7. Sleepovers, camping or other overnight events should only be allowed when all supervisors and volunteers are fully screened.
8. Must obtain signed parental consent and permission for off-premises or overnight events. Two adult rule applies at all times.
9. Completed attendance records for supervisors/volunteers/youth are to be turned over to the administrative secretary for filing at the end of each season (June 30).
10. Two Leaders must remain at club activities until parents/guardians have picked up all youth.
This policy applies to adults, while servicing in ministry to youth, who may transport non-related youth in the course of church-sponsored programs.
1. At least two of the following procedures must be in place:
a. Two adults are present and seated in the front of the vehicle when transporting youth.
b. At least two youth are present in the vehicle.
c. Youth are seated in the back seats of the vehicle.
2. Adults must have a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance before transporting youth.
3. Drivers need to abide by federal and provincial requirements for car seat use, seatbelt use and air bag safety.
a. Youth are to wear seat belts whenever the vehicle is in service. Drivers may not transport more youths than available seatbelts.
b. Where required by law, car seats must be available for younger children.
c. For safety, youth under the age of 12 may not sit in the front seat if there is a passenger- side airbag.
Adults or minors who transport related youth to church-sponsored events are not subject to this policy.
The transportation policy does not extend to parents or guardians who request or give permission for a minor with a valid driver’s license to transport non-related youth.
Program Participation Consent Form Sample
As the parent/guardian of (child/youth name) I give permission for him/her to participate in the programs and activities of Clinton Christian Reformed Church, Clinton, Ontario understanding that there are certain dangers and risks inherent in any programming and, save and except for gross negligence, the parent(s)/guardian(s) jointly and severally agree to assume such risk on behalf of the child/youth.
I give consent to the child’s/youth’s Volunteer Leaders to seek emergency medical care for the child/youth if and when they deem it to be necessary. I agree to be responsible for any incurred medical or transportation expenses.
In consideration of the opportunity for the child/youth participating in the programs and activities of the church, the parents(s)/guardian(s) jointly and severally agree to indemnify and save harmless the church, it officers, directors, employees and volunteers from any claims or causes of action that might arise by reason of their child/youth participating in any such programs and activities.
Signed: (Parent or guardian)
(Parent or guardian)
Emergency Contact #
Procedures from Reporting Suspected Child Abuse:
1. Volunteers, staff and leaders in child and youth programs of the church shall be trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse. Training will also include learning how to respond to abusive situations.
2. When volunteers, staff or leaders observe signs and symptoms of abuse or have an incidence of abuse reported to them, they shall immediately report this to the Children’s Aid Society (CAS). Any member of a church community is subject to the civic duty to report under the Child and Family Services Act, Section 72 (1) which states that if a person has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection, the person must promptly report the suspicion and the information upon which it is based to a Children’s Aid Society. The Safe Church Team must also be notified as soon as possible.
There are special responsibilities imposed on professionals and officials by Section 72 (4), (6.2) which states that professional persons and officials have the same duty as any member of the public to report a suspicion that a child is in need of protection. The Act recognizes, however, that persons working closely with children have a special awareness of the signs of child abuse and neglect, and a particular responsibility to report their suspicions, and so makes it an offence to fail to report.
Huron County OPP Services:
(8:30 am-4:30pm Monday-Friday)
Calls for Service:
Children’s Aid Society:
3. Volunteers, staff and leaders aware of possible child abuse (whether it be in a church program or outside of church), or knowing about abuse by any church volunteer, staff, leader or any other person, must report the matter to their immediate supervisor or leader unless that person is the suspected abuser. In that case only, they will report to another supervisor or church leader. This should be done within 24 hours.
4. Volunteers, staff or leaders should never attempt to interview the child in question about any signs or symptoms and must never suggest to the child that they have been abused.
5. The person who made the report to the CAS should also inform the Safe Church Team, as soon as possible. The reporter must keep the information confidential. An incident report form will be filled out and kept on file.
INCIDENT REPORT FORM (Injury or Suspected Abuse)
Clinton Christian Reformed Safe Church Team – Incident Report
This report form is for the purpose of recording any incident of injury or suspected abuse reported to the Safe Church Team.
Name of person making report: _________________________________________
Date of Report: ____ Phone Number: ________
Date of Incident:
Description of incident: (time of occurrence, what occurred, who was involved, location, etc.)
Names of any other potential witnesses: ______________________________________________
Action taken (note dates): __________________________________________________________
Signature of person making report: ____________________________________________
Name of Safe Church member receiving this report: _______ __
Date received: ________________________ Children’s Aid Society: 1-800-265-5198 (24 hrs)
Definitions of Abuse are noted in the Resource Section of this document.
1. Corporal punishment is never permitted. Corporal punishment includes, but is not limited to, slapping, hitting, pushing and touching in an aggressive manner.
2. Abusive verbal discipline is not permitted. Abusive verbal discipline includes, but is not limited to, yelling, hurling insults, verbally embarrassing a child and threatening a child expressly or by implication.
3. Parent(s)/Guardians are to be informed and involved whenever a child/youth misbehaves beyond minor correction or if a pattern of misbehaviour increases.
4. Concerns about a child’s behaviour or the appropriate response to a child’s behaviour should be reported to the program supervisor.
5. An aide or a parent should be involved weekly in classrooms where misbehaviour is an ongoing problem.
6. Expectations of children’s/youth’s behaviour must reflect their age and level of comprehension. Similarly, discipline must reflect their age and level of comprehension.
7. Children are to be reminded of the kind of behaviour that is acceptable for the setting. Older children and youth may benefit from having these expectations in written form.
Definitions of Abuse
The following definitions are given to further assist the church in understanding the types of behaviours which might constitute ungodly conduct, misuse of power, sexually inappropriate behaviour, and so forth.
a. Physical Abuse is any act or omission which results in a non-accidental trauma or physical injury being inflicted on another person. It is sometimes a single event but more often a chronic pattern of behaviour. It may result from severe punishment. Physically abusive acts include slapping, pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, biting, choking, severe spanking, beating, hitting with an object, burning, stabbing, and shooting.
b. Physical Neglect is not doing what one is supposed to do to meet the physical needs of those (especially children) in his or her care.
c. Sexual Abuse is exploitation of a person regardless of age or circumstances for the sexual gratification of another. Child sexual abuse can refer to taking advantage of a child who is not capable of understanding sexual acts or resisting coercion such as threats or offers of gifts. Sexual abuse may or may not involve sexual contact. Examples of non-physical sexual abuse include people exposing themselves, displaying pornographic material, photographing a child for pornographic materials, obscene telephone calls, “Peeping Toms”, and requests to engage in sexual activity (where no physical contact occurs). Examples of sexual abuse involving physical contact includes fondling of body parts such as breasts, crotch, buttocks, or sexual organs; intercourse; oral and anal sex.
d. Emotional Abuse is harm or threatened harm to a person’s welfare or well being a chronic or intentional pattern of deprivation; manipulative threats, words or actions; harassment; or necessary and excessive attempts to control a person’s behaviour or thoughts.
WARNING SIGNS OF ABUSE:
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN ABUSE IS OCCURRING
Physical abuse often leaves marks, and can be easier to identify than sexual or emotional abuse or neglect.
Unexplained bruises and welts are the most frequent evidence found:
• often of the face, torso, buttocks, back, or thighs;
• can reflect shape of object used (electric cord, belt buckle);
• may be in various stages of healing.
• often on palms, soles, buttocks, and back;
• can reflect pattern indicative of cigarette, cigar, electrical appliance, immersion or rope burn.
Other unexplained injuries:
• lacerations, abrasions, human bite marks or pinch marks;
• loss of hair/bald patches;
• retinal hemorrhage;
• abdominal injuries.
Requests or feels deserving of physical punishment;
• Afraid to go home and/or requests to stay in school, day care etc.;
• Overly shy, tends to avoid physical contact with adults especially parents; Displays behavioural extremes (withdrawal or aggression);
• Suggests that other children be punished in a harsh manner; Cries excessively and/or sits and stares;
• Reports injury by parent;
• Gives unbelievable explanations for injuries.
Unfortunately, many children do not report this form of abuse. They rely on adults to be aware of specific physical and behavioural indicators. A child who persistently shows several of the following characteristics may be experiencing sexual abuse. Remember, the most reliable indicator of child abuse is the child’s verbal disclosure.
• Somatic complaints, including pain and irritation of the genitals; Sexually transmitted disease;
• Pregnancy in young adolescents;
• Frequent unexplained sore throats, yeast infections, or urinary infections.
• Excessive masturbation in young children;
• Sexual knowledge of behaviour beyond that expected for the child’s age;
• Depression, suicidal gesture;
• Chronic runaway;
• Frequent psychosomatic complaints, such as headaches and stomach-aches;
• Drug or alcohol abuse;
• Avoidance of undressing or wearing excessive layers of clothing;
• Sudden avoidance of certain familiar adults or places;
• Marked decline in school performance.
The signs of emotional abuse may be less obvious than other forms of maltreatment. Emotional abuse is suspected when a child exhibits impaired development, destructive behaviour, or chronic somatic complaints that cannot be explained medically or circumstantially. A child who persistently shows several of the following characteristics may be experiencing emotional abuse.
• Eating disorders;
• Sleep disturbances, nightmares;
• Wetting or soiling by school-age children;
• Speech disorder, stuttering;
• Failure to thrive;
• Development lags;
• Asthma, severe allergies, or ulcers.
• Habit disorders, such as biting, rocking, head banging, thumb sucking in an older child;
• Poor peer relationships;
• Behavioural extremes (overly compliant or demanding, withdrawn or aggressive);
• Self-destructive behaviour, oblivious to hazards and risks;
• Chronic academic under-achievement;
• Irrational and persistent fears, dreads, or hatreds.
Signs of Neglect:
A child who persistently shows several of the following characteristics may be experiencing neglect. Keep in mind; however, that cultural standards which differ from those prevailing in a community are not necessarily neglect.
• Height and weight significantly below age level with no plausible explanation;
• Inappropriate clothing for weather;
• Poor hygiene, including lice, body odour, scaly skin;
• Child abandoned or left with inadequate supervision; Untreated illness or injury;
• Lack of safe, warm, sanitary shelter;
• Lack of necessary medical and dental care.
• Begging or stealing food;
• Assumes adult responsibilities;
• Falling asleep in school, lethargic;
• Repeated acts of vandalism;
• Poor school attendance, frequent tardiness;
• Chronic hunger;
• Dull, apathetic appearance;
• Running away from home;
• Reports no caretaker in the home.
I (print name) _________________________
have read and understand the safe church policy.
I agree to follow the rules of the policy and will ask questions if, at any time,
I do not understand any portion thereof.
I understand this is required to ensure the safety and credibility of all parties involved.
Signature __________________________ Date _______________________