Prince of Peace Lutheran Church Child Protection Policy
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church seeks to provide a safe and secure environment for the children who participate in our programs and activities. By implementing these practices, our goal is to protect the children of Prince of Peace from incidents of misconduct or inappropriate behavior while also protecting our staff and volunteers from false accusations. Workers and volunteers are required to read and sign acknowledgement of the following policy.
For purposes of this policy, the terms “child” or “children” include all persons under the age of eighteen (18) years. The term “worker” includes both paid and unpaid persons who work with children. The term “volunteer” includes anyone involved with the contact of children as in a day care or school, in overnight activities involving minors and in counseling or mentoring of minors.
Selection of Workers
All persons who desire to work with the children participating in our programs and activities will be screened. This screening includes the following:
a) Six Month Rule
No person will be considered for any volunteer position involving contact with minors until she/he has been involved with Prince of Peace for a minimum of six (6) months. This time of interaction between our leadership and the applicant allows for better evaluation and suitability of the applicant for working with children.
b) Written Application
All persons seeking to work with children must complete and sign a written application in a form to be supplied by us. The application will request basic information from the applicant and will inquire into previous experience with children, previous church affiliation, reference and employment information, as well as disclosure of any previous criminal convictions. The application form will be maintained in confidence on file at Prince of Peace.
c) Personal Interview
Upon completion of the application, a face-to-face interview may be scheduled with the applicant to discuss his/her suitability for the position.
d) Reference Checks
Before an applicant is permitted to work with children, at least two of the applicants’ references will be checked. These references should be of an institutional nature as opposed to personal or family references, preferably from organizations where the applicant has worked with children in the past. Documentation of the reference checks will be maintained in confidence on file at Prince of Peace.
e) Criminal Background Check
A national criminal background check may be required for all employees (regardless of position) and “volunteers” as defined above.
Before a background check is run, prospective workers will be asked to sign an authorization form allowing the church to request the check. If an individual declines to sign the authorization form, s/he will be unable to work with children. A disqualifying offense that will keep an individual from working with children will be determined by the Pastor and the Council President or Vice President on a case-by-case basis in light of all the surrounding circumstances. Generally, convictions for an offense involving children and/or for offenses involving violence, dishonesty, illegal substances, indecency and any conduct contrary to our mission will preclude someone from being permitted to work with children. Failure to disclose a criminal conviction on the application form will also be a disqualifying event. The background check authorization form and results will be maintained in confidence on file at Prince of Peace.
Two Adult Rule
It is our goal that a minimum of two unrelated adult workers will be in attendance at all times when children are being supervised during our programs and activities. Some youth classes may have only one adult teacher in attendance during the class session; in these instances, doors to the classroom should remain open and there should be no fewer than three students with the adult teacher. We do not allow minors to be alone with one adult on our premises or in any sponsored activity unless in a counseling situation.
Responding to Allegations of Child Abuse
For purposes of this policy, “child abuse” is any action (or lack of action) that endangers or harms a child’s physical, psychological or emotional health and development. Child abuse occurs in different ways and includes the following:
- Physical abuse – any physical injury to a child that is not accidental, such as beating, shaking, burns, and biting.
- Emotional abuse – emotional injury when the child is not nurtured or provided with love and security, such as an environment of constant criticism, belittling and persistent teasing.
- Sexual abuse – any sexual activity between a child and an adult or between a child and another child at least four years older than the victim, including activities such as fondling, exhibitionism, intercourse, incest, and pornography.
- Neglect – depriving a child of his or her essential needs, such as adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care.
Childcare workers may have the opportunity to become aware of abuse or neglect of the children under our care. In the event that an individual involved in the care of children at Prince of Peace becomes aware of suspected abuse or neglect of a child under his/her care, this should be reported immediately to the Pastor, Council President or Vice President for further action, including reporting to authorities as may be mandated by state law.
In the event that an incident of abuse or neglect is alleged to have occurred at Prince of Peace or during our sponsored programs or activities, the following procedure shall be followed:
- The parent or guardian of the child will be notified. If the child is in immediate danger, a call to 911 is required.
- The worker or church member alleged to be the perpetrator of the abuse or misconduct will immediately be placed on leave pending an investigation and instructed to remain away from the premises during the investigation. He or she should be instructed to have no contact with the victim or with witnesses.
- All allegations of abuse should be reported to the civil authorities, and the organization will comply with the state’s requirements regarding mandatory reporting of abuse as the law then exists. The NJDCF child abuse hotline is 1-877-652-2873. The organization will fully cooperate with the investigation of the incident by civil authorities.
- The insurance company will be notified, and the organization will complete an incident report. Any documents received relating to the incident and/or allegations will immediately be forwarded to the insurance company.
- The organization will designate a spokesperson to the media concerning incidents of abuse or neglect. The advice of legal counsel will be sought before responding to media inquiries or releasing information about the situation to the congregation. All other representatives of the organization should refrain from speaking to the media.
- A pastoral visit will be arranged for those who desire it. This should be for the purpose of providing pastoral support during the time of crisis and not for the purpose of investigating the incident or influencing the investigation.
- Any person who is not found innocent of the alleged abuse or misconduct will be removed from their position working with children or youth.
Open Door Policy and Restroom Guidelines
Classroom doors should remain open unless there is a window in the door or there is an open top section to a half door. Doors should never be locked while persons are inside the room. For the protection of all, workers should never be alone with a child in a bathroom with the door closed and never be in a closed bathroom stall with a child.
We recognize that there may be times when it is necessary or desirable for babysitters (paid or volunteer) who are themselves under age 18 to assist in caring for children during programs or activities. The following guidelines apply to teenage workers:
- Must be at least age 12.
- Must be screened and given training instructions.
- Must be under the supervision of an adult and must never be left alone with children.
It is the policy of Prince of Peace not to administer corporal punishment, even if parents have suggested or given permission for it. There should be no spanking, grabbing, hitting, or other physical discipline of children.
Prince of Peace will provide training on this child protection policy to all staff and new childcare workers and will strive to provide opportunities for additional training classes or events on an annual basis. All staff and volunteers are strongly encouraged to attend these training events.