Tintern Child and Youth Protection Policy

This course is designed to train Tintern church of Christ staff and volunteers on the Child and Youth Protection Policy.

 

What is Abuse?

Introduction/Purpose

Introduction

Child abuse is an evil we don’t like to think about, yet we cannot deny that it exist in all levels of society.  As a church, we believe we must address this subject in a forth right manner in order to be proactive in protecting our children and youth.  We do this because we care about the children and youth entrusted to us and believe their protection and well being is everyone’s responsibility.  Secondly, we address this issue because we care about the staff and volunteers working with children and youth and never want them placed in a position where they could be falsely accused. Thirdly, we do so because we care about the church of Jesus and want to protect her from being scarred and muddied by scandal.  Lastly, we address this issue in order to be well equipped to know what to do should abuse occur. 

The creation and promotion of these guidelines and procedures does not imply we do not trust our staff or volunteers.  Rather, we wish to make a strong statement that our staff and volunteers will adhere to set standards of conduct and practices designed to protect our children and youth, and staff and volunteers and to meet legislative requirements.  In doing so, it is our prayer that no child or youth within our care should ever experience abuse.

Confidentiality is of upmost importance during any disclosure and subsequent investigation.  Such matters must not be discussed amongst church members or with external parties.  The Elder Chair will manage all communication with members, media etc.  Persons with first hand information about the incident must cooperate with Family and Children’s Services and the police during their investigation. 

Purpose

The primary purpose of this police is to set out guidelines and processes that will create and maintain a safe environment for children and youth participating in Tintern Church of Christ activities.

Compliance with this policy will also help protect our church and its members from unfounded allegations.  Liability insurance is able to be secured because of the measures outlined and member compliance with this policy. 

What is Abuse?

Abuse includes any and all forms of physical, sexual, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse and neglect. It includes behaviour used to intimidate, isolate, dominate or control another person. It can be a pattern of behaviours or it may be a single incident.

Neglect means the failure to provide a child with the support and assistance that is required for their health, safety or well-being and includes inaction or a pattern of inaction that jeopardizes the health and safety of the child. It is the failure to adequately care for, provide for, supervise or protect.

Abuse or neglect of a child may occur as a result of actions, inaction, behaviour or conduct of employees, volunteers, and family members. Employees and volunteers providing Tintern Church of Christ services must be aware of what constitutes abuse and steps to take if abuse occurs as outlined in this policy.

Physical Abuse is the use of physical force by anyone that causes physical injury or pain. Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to hitting (with or without an object), pinching, slapping, pushing, punching, kicking, burning, shaking, stabbing, shooting. These are examples of assault and assault is a criminal offence in Canada. 

Sexual Abuse is touching behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature or sexual exploitation that is directed towards a child. Sexual abuse may occur through physical actions and verbal communication and includes the use of any source of technology (ie:exposing children to pornography, sexting).  

Emotional or Psychological Abuse is any threatening, belittling, degrading, insulting, intimidating or humiliating gestures, actions, behaviour or remarks including threats of harm towards the child, their pets or personal belongings.  It includes isolation from friends or family.

What types of abuse are there?

  • Physical
  • Neglect
  • Sexual
  • Emotional or Psychological
  • All of the above

2. Abuse or neglect may occur as a result of actions, inaction, behaviour or conduct.

  • True
  • False

Mandatory Reporting

Duty to Report

The Child and Family Services Act 2016 states clearly that members of the public, including professionals who work with children, have an obligation to report promptly to a Children’s Aid Society if they suspect a child is/ has been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused or suffering from neglect or seen as being at risk of harm. The duty to report applies to any child who is, or appears to be, under the age of 16 years old. Calls may also be made to Family and Children’s Services prior to a child’s birth to report prenatal care concerns.

Any member of the public has an obligation to report to the Children’s Aid Society if they suspect a child is/has been abused or is at risk of harm

  • True
  • False

Ongoing Duty

There is an ongoing duty to report child abuse or neglect to Family and Children’s Services even if a report has already been made.  If there are additional or ongoing concerns related to child abuse or neglect the employee/volunteer must make another call and report the concerns to Family and Children’s Services

May Not Rely On Others

If you have reasonable grounds to suspect a child is or may be in need of protection, you must report directly to Family and Children’s Services. You may not rely on anyone else to report on your behalf.  You may seek moral support from a senior minister or elder while making the call.

If I have reasonable grounds to suspect a child is in need of protection I will tell an elder and they will report it to the authorities.

  • True
  • False

Paid Professional

As a paid professional (clergy, health care personnel, teachers, youth volunteers, counsellors, etc) you are held to a higher accountability standard regarding recognizing and reporting child abuse.  Any professional or official who fails to report a suspicion that a child is or may be in need of protection, where the information on which that suspicion is based was obtained in the course of your professional duties, is liable on conviction to a fine of up to $1000.00.

Confidentiality

A professional must report that a child is or may be in need of protection, even when the information is otherwise confidential or privileged.  The duty to report overrides the provisions of any other provincial statute, and specifically overrides any provisions that would otherwise prohibit someone from making a disclosure.

Niagara Region Reporting

Family and Children’s Services is the Niagara Region Children’s Aid Society for reporting all suspected, alleged, reported or witnessed child abuse. 905-937-7731

In Niagara, we report child abuse concerns to Family & Children’s Services.

  • True
  • False

Prevention Strategies

Police Record Checks

  • All prospective employees and volunteers over age 18 must submit a Vulnerable Persons police record check prior to working with children. Tintern will cover the cost.
  • Police record check submissions must be current within one year
  • A new police record check will be requested if the current one on file exceeds 10 years.

Police record checks will be required for...

  • Paid employees only
  • All volunteers and paid employees over age 18+
  • Paid employees and elders only
  • Elders and deacons only

Criminal Record Declaration

All adult employees and volunteers will be required to sign a Criminal Record Declaration form annually confirming they have not incurred any criminal offences over the last year

Age of Volunteers

All volunteers must be at least age 11.  Any volunteer under age 18 must be paired with an unrelated, adult volunteer to ensure appropriate mentoring and supervision.  Any adult/teen volunteer in lead role must be at least 2 years older than the oldest participant.  All volunteers age 16+ must participate in training related to abuse prevention and policy adherence. 


Reference Letter

All volunteers under age 18 will be required to submit a personal reference letter from a non-relative prior to volunteering with children.

Eligibility to Volunteer

A review of the police record check and/or reference letter for purposes of determining a person’s eligibility to volunteer will be conducted by the Administrative Support staff and either the Child/Youth Minister or Deacon of Children’s Ministry.  They will be responsible for making and communicating their decision to the person.  Any employee/volunteer convicted of sexual misconduct or abuse may not participate in any capacity within the Tintern Church of Christ child or youth programming.

Unrelated Two Caregiver Model

When possible, an unrelated - two caregiver model of support will be implemented during child and youth activities to reduce the risk of abuse and for the protection of the employee or volunteer. When this cannot be facilitated, alternate measures could be implemented such as combining activities, leaving the activity room door open, or recruiting a temporary, unrelated helper such as a parent or high school student.  All activities must have at least one adult volunteer/staff over age 18.

When possible, an unrelated-two caregiver model of support will be implemented for child/youth activities

  • True
  • False

Non-Tintern Church of Christ Volunteers

Any volunteer, regardless of age, who is from out of province or country, from another church or is a non-church affiliated person, must always be paired with an adult member of the Tintern Church of Christ for all interactions with children under age 16.

1-1 Discussions

When 1-1 discussions between a child/youth and an employee or volunteer are necessary, this will only occur within full view of other adults.  Doors must remain open.  Employees or volunteers should not meet alone with a child/youth in a private place for any reason.  When meeting in public locations you must remain highly visible to others.

Doors should remain closed during private discussions with a child/youth to ensure confidentiality

  • True
  • False

Electronic Communication

Employees/volunteers will avoid individual electronic communication with youth except for last minute notifications of changes in plans to a pre-booked activity (cancellation, change of venue, etc). Group electronic communication is acceptable. Individual confidentiality and privacy must be guarded at all times when communicating electronically. Exercise caution and solid judgement before posting pictures and comments to social media.  Consent for taking and using pictures or comments must be secured from the minor and their parent/guardian.

Uncovered Windows

Activity room doors will have uncovered windows for easy monitoring and where possible, activities will be conducted within close visual and auditory proximity to each other.  If there is no window, the door must be left open.

Off-Site Activities for Children Under Age 16

Organizers of Tintern Church of Christ sanctioned off-site activities for children under age 16 will:

  • Secure yearly written consent from the parent/guardian for participation by completing the Activity Participation Consent Form;
  • Obtain and carry with you emergency contact name and phone number for all participants;
  • Secure verbal consent from the parent/guardian for any new participant who has not completed the Activity Participation Consent Form prior to participating in the activity.  If they plan to routinely participate, a yearly consent form must be completed;
  • Establish if there are any medical concerns for any participants that may have an impact on their participation or may need attention during an activity;
  • Ensure adequate employee/volunteer supports;
  • Be proactive in providing for the overall safety and securing of those attending;
  • Adhere to all policies and procedures outlined in this document

On Site Sign In and Out Procedure

For activities hosted at the church building a sign in and out procedure will be implemented for all children age 5 and under (JK/SK) when responsibility for the child is handed off to the involved volunteer/employee (classes, BDC etc.).  Children may not leave the activity until the adult caregiver/guardian arrives and signs the child out.  Individual decisions will be made with the primary caregiver/guardian for children with special needs of any age.

Activity Supervision

Children and youth Grade 5 and under are not to be left without adult supervision in classrooms and other activities.  Children should never be dropped off in a classroom/activity without the assigned adult being present.  When parents/guardians bring their children to an activity the volunteer/employee is responsible for their safety and security until they are once again in the care of their parent/caregiver.

Volunteers are to be in their activity area five minutes prior to start time to ensure readiness to receive children.  All activities must have at least one adult volunteer over age 18.

Toileting/Diapering Needs

  • Parents are responsible to attend to their child’s toileting/diaper needs an activity begins. 
  • If a diaper change is necessary during an activity, the child will be changed in the presence of another adult or the child’s parent will be secured to address the need.
  • If a child Grade 5 or under needs to use the toilet during an activity, the adult volunteer will escort them to and from the washroom. 
  • The washroom door will be propped open and the volunteer will remain outside the washroom.
  • If a child needs assistance in the washroom, enter the cubicle to assist only when a second adult is within visual contact. 
  • Cubicle doors must remain open.
  • Best practice would suggest that male volunteers/employees, who are not a parent/guardian to the child, will not assist children with toileting care needs. 

Parents are responsible to take their children to the washroom before class or activity time begins

  • True
  • False

If only one adult volunteer is present and a child requires assistance in the washroom cubicle the volunteer may only proceed when another adult is within visual proximity?

  • True
  • False

New Volunteers/Employees

The Deacon of Children’s Ministry or designates will, at least monthly during the first three months, observe, seek and provide feedback regarding all new employees and volunteers working with children under age 16 to ensure knowledge of and adherence to this policy.

Transportation

  • Employees and volunteers must strive to limit their alone time in a vehicle with anyone under age 16. 
  • Male drivers should not be alone in a vehicle with an under age 16 year old female.
  • Plan to pick up and drop off participants at a central location to eliminate alone time or have parents drop off and pick up at the activity location. 
  • All drivers must have a valid driver’s license and current and sufficient automobile insurance. 
  • The number of occupants in the vehicle must not exceed the number of seat belts.  Seat belts must be worn at all times by all occupants.
  • The driver must not have consumed any alcohol for 8 hours prior to driving.
  •  Parent/guardian consent must be secured before transporting a child/youth

Overnight Activities

All overnight church sponsored activities must adhere to the following guidelines

  • Must adhere to this policy
  • Be pre-approved by church leadership (Deacon of Children’s Ministry, Child and Youth Minister, Elder, Minister). 
  • If the activity is a mixed gender event there must be at least one adult male and female for supervision during the event.  There must be at least two approved and unrelated adults involved. 
  • Parent/Guardian written consent and medical information are required for each participant and are to be kept in the possession of the activity leader during the event and then submitted to the church office for filing
  • There must be two approved adult leaders for every 10 participants.
  • Leaders should have assigned groups for supervision and oversight during the activity
  • At no time should an employee/volunteer be alone with a participant.  The exception would be in a situation where the contact occurs in a public place with other people frequently coming and going within the location.
  • Males and females will be segregated during sleeping hours.  If it is necessary for adults to share sleeping accommodations with children, a minimum of two unrelated adults must sleep in the same area.
  • Adult leaders will not occupy the same bed as a child/youth unless they are the parent of the youth.

Oversight of Adherence to Policy

Oversight of appropriate implementation and adherence to these policies will be the responsibility of the Deacon of Children’s Ministry and the Child and Youth Minister and through mutual accountability amongst all employees and volunteers striving to ensure the protection of children.

The Children’s Ministry Deacon or designate will make regular, unannounced visits to observe children’s activities to ensure the activity is properly staffed and supervised and policy and procedures are being followed.

Training Strategies

Three Steps to Ensure Proper Training

1) Testing Knowledge

Upon initial and subsequent training, a post test must be successfully completed. You will be adequately supported to successfully complete this task.

2) Training Content
  Annual training and retraining will include, but is not limited to:

-Signs and symptoms of abuse
-Prevention, identification and reporting requirements
-Policy and procedure review and sign off

3) Oversight of Training

The Deacon of Children’s Ministry or designate will be responsible to ensure training takes place, is recorded and tests are completed successfully.  Tracking will be supported by church administrative support.

Responding to Child Abuse

Safety First/Abuse Disclosure

Safety First

The first priority is the safety and security of the child.  Administer First Aid and access other services as needed (medical clinic, hospital, 9-1-1).  Also attend to the safety and security of others, as necessary.

Abuse Disclosure

Following a disclosure or witnessed abuse, keep questions or discussions to an absolute minimum as you may taint critical information necessary for an ongoing Family and Children’s Services or police investigation.  Your actions may leave the child and alleged abuser vulnerable.

What is the first priority when responding to an allegation of child abuse?

  • The safety and security of the child and youth
  • Calling the authorities to report the abuse
  • Calling an elder to report the abuse
  • Completing an incident report

Call to Report/Discuss Safety Plans

Call To Report

Immediately call Family and Children’s Services (905-937-7731) and report exactly what has been disclosed or witnessed. 

Discuss Safety Planning Needs

Discuss safety planning needs while on the phone with Family and Children’s Services following their advice regarding next steps for ensuring the child’s safety. 

Suspected Abuse

In a situation of suspected abuse call Family and Children’s Services (905-937-7731) and indicate you have a situation that may constitute child abuse and report the information related to the suspected abuse. You may request to make your report anonymously; however, if Family and Children’s Services deems necessary they will ask you for identifying information that you must have available to provide.

If I suspect a child is being abused I should:

  • Discuss with others to see if they have had similar suspicions.
  • Watch and wait to see if anything further develops.
  • Immediately call Family and Children’s Services and report my concerns.
  • Stay out of it, it is not my business.

Support to Make the Call

You may request a Senior Ministry Employee or Elder Chairperson be present with you when making the call to Family and Children’s Services.   However, do not leave a child at risk by delaying making the call.

I may request an elder or ministry staff be with me for moral support when making the call to Family and Children’s Services, as long as this does not create delays that leave a child/youth at risk.

  • True
  • False

Informing the Elder Chairperson/Complete Incident Report

Informing The Elder Chairperson

After contacting Family and Children’s Services, immediately inform the Elder Chairperson or designate or Senior Ministry Employee.  Phone numbers for contact purposes are listed on the Incident Form.    

Complete Incident Report

Before leaving the environment, the Tintern Church of Christ employee or volunteer must complete an Incident Report Form documenting the situation and actions taken and submit to the Elder Chairperson or designate or Senior Ministry Employee.  

Never Allow Yourself to be Talked Out of Reporting

Never allow yourself to be talked out of calling the authorities to report your suspicions of abuse or neglect. You are legally obligated to report. The safety of the child is the first priority and must guide all decision making.  Let the trained, legal professionals at Family and Children’s Services do the investigation. 

Internal Church Investigation/Support for the Victim

Internal Church Investigations

Any and all internal church investigation into the matter may not proceed until Family and Children’s Services or the police have informed the Elder Chairperson that their case is closed.  Only then may church authorities proceed with internal investigations.

Support of the Victim

A child who alleges abuse or neglect will be supported without prejudice or bias.

False Allegations/Free from Harassment

False Allegations

Concerns related to alleged false allegations from a child will be well documented and will result in increased supervision of the child by two adults who are aware of the concern.  Additional measures and actions may also be put in place for the protection of the child and all others interacting with the child.

Free From Harassment

 Church authorities will make every attempt to ensure that any employee, volunteer or church member who reports abuse is not subjected to harassment, ostracism, threats or intimidation of any kind

Confidentiality

Confidentiality is of upmost importance when dealing with such matters.  In as much as we have control, it is critical that victims and alleged abusers privacy is protected by those involved in the situation.  These are not matters to be openly discussed amongst church members.  Breaches of confidentiality could result in legal action and church discipline. 

Elder Responsibility

Ensure Authorities are Called/Reassign Workers

Ensure Authorities Are Called

In the event of alleged suspected, witnessed or reported abuse the elder will ensure Family and Children’s Services or the police have been called and informed of the situation and follow any recommendations they make regarding the matter.  Family and Children’s Services will link to the police as they deem necessary.

Reassign Workers

The Elder will ensure all employees or volunteers alleged to be involved in abuse are reassigned to duties or implement a paid employee leave of absence until the alleged abuse investigation is complete. The alleged abuser must not have access to or contact with the alleged victim.

Incident Report/Media and Membership Inquiries

Incident Report

Ensure documentation of the incident is completed before employees/volunteers leave the environment using the Incident Report Form.

Media and Membership Inquiries

 Prepare for and respond to all media inquires and church membership communication while balancing alleged abuser and victim confidentiality

If required, all media communication will be managed by the elders.

  • True
  • False

Victim/Alleged Abuser Support

Victim Support

Provide support to the alleged victim and their support network taking all claims seriously and responding professionally and without bias. Make them aware of community resources.

Alleged Abuser Support

 Provide support to the alleged abuser and their support network.  For everyone’s protection, ensure the alleged abuser has no contact or access to the alleged victim, within Tintern activities while the investigation is ongoing.  Make them aware of community resources

Confidentiality

Ensure victim and alleged abuser confidentially.  Immediately address breaches of confidentiality with involved parties.

Ensure police provide a warrant for access to any church documents or reports and ensure employees are aware of this requirement. We want to be cooperative and compliant with any police investigation balanced with the right to protect member’s confidential information filed within church documents.

At all times, ensure documents containing church members private information is stored under lock and key (police reports, reference letters, disciplinary letters, etc) and access to such documents is restricted.

The elders are responsible to address, with Tintern members, any breaches of confidentiality.

  • True
  • False

Assess the Situation/Disciplinary Action

Assess The Situation

Assess for any patterns, contributing factors, reporting relationships or hierarchical structures that may have influenced the incident and address immediately.

Disciplinary Action

Initiate and document necessary disciplinary action up to and including termination and/or disfellowship.

Incident Follow Up

All incident follow up will be managed by the Elder Chairperson or designate including, but not limited to:

  • managing media interactions
  • employee or church member discipline
  • legal communications
  • completion of an Incident Report
  • oversight of implementing any recommendations as a result of an investigation
  • timely follow up with involved parties without breaching confidentiality or legal requirements

Debriefing/Counseling Supports

Debriefing

Supportively debrief with staff/volunteers involved in the investigation making use of external resources, as necessary to ensure staff/volunteers have an opportunity to work through their feelings and involvement in the situation.  Going through an abuse investigation can be quite traumatic and requires loving support. 

Counselling Supports

Provide information to all involved parties about available counselling and/or support groups and resources that they may access as part of their healing process. 

Adherence to the standards and practices outlined in this policy will help to...

  • Protect children by decreasing isolated situations
  • Decrease opportunities for offending
  • Lend to protecting staff and volunteers against false allegations
  • All of the above

CONGRATULATIONS! You're Done!

Remember to REPLY to the email that had this link with a screen shot of your completed results. (See example below)
 Thank you for participating and putting our kids safety first!

Questions regarding this policy can be directed to any member of the Child and Youth Protection Policy committee:    

Bev Boden  
Jeremy Cook  
Marcia Cramp  
Lori Dickie  
Janine Williams  
Noel Walker  
Cindy Whitfield  
Margaret Ayala


Screenshot Example

After hitting "Submit Results" this screen will appear on your computer. Please screen shot this and include it in your email back.
To take a screen shot hit "Print Screen" (or PRTSC), in your reply email hit CTRL + V to paste the screen shot.