— Approved by the Session 1/17/2016
A Child Protection Policy Statement
Southminster Presbyterian Church and its members are committed to the safety, welfare and protection of all children and youth participating in the activities and programs of the Church. During each baptism of an infant, child or adult, the Congregation pledges to uphold that person in the household of God. To these ends, the Session hereby adopts reasonable policies and procedures in order to minimize the possibility that any child or youth (meaning all those17 years of age and younger) will be subjected to physical or emotional abuse or neglect by Church staff, paid childcare workers, teachers or volunteers while engaged in church programs or activities. The policies and procedures adopted seek to balance the security and welfare of the children and the legitimate expectations of privacy of staff and volunteers.
- For the purposes of this covenant, child and children means those of 17 years or less. A youth is a child in the context of this policy.
- Abuse and/or harassment includes, but is not limited to, the following acts:
- Any sexual activity in the presence of, or in association with, a child.
- Any display or demonstration of sexual activity, abuse, insinuation of abuse or evidence of abusive conduct toward a child.
- Sexual advances or sexual activity of any kind between any adult and a child, whether or not the child/victim has consented, or has initiated the interaction.
- Infliction of physically abusive behavior or bodily injury to a child.
- Physical neglect of a child or children, including failure to provide adequate supervision in relation to the programs and activities of the Southminster Presbyterian Church.
- Emotional or psychological mistreatment of a child, including verbal abuse.
- The presence or possession of obscene or pornographic materials at any function of the Southminster Presbyterian Church or on Church property.
- The presence, possession or being under the influence of any illegal drugs at any function of the Southminster Presbyterian Church or on Church property.
- The presence, consumption of or being under the influence of alcohol while leading or participating in a child or youth function of the Southminster Presbyterian Church or on Church property.
Standards of Conduct
- Paid or volunteer adults shall not touch or interact with children or youth in any way that is sexually stimulating, emotionally demeaning, or exploitative. Common expressions of affection and affirmation (hugs and pats on the back) or physical care (diaper changes or first aid) are appropriate in this or any community of caring Christians. Staff and volunteers must be careful that physical expressions of affection are not excessive or imposed upon another individual.
- Paid and volunteer adults and youth working with children and youth are also tasked with guarding the physical and emotional safety of those in their care and to be aware of signs indicating neglect of the child’s well-being.
- Those people working with children or youth should work in pairs. Whenever possible, two adults should be present with the children at all activities. Southminster Presbyterian Church recommends that staff and volunteers transport children and youth in groups rather than alone. In ordinary circumstances, an unaccompanied adult should not drive a single child in a church sponsored activity without the permission of the child’s parent or guardian.
- All volunteers for ongoing assignments shall have completed an approved Volunteer Application form (See Implementation segment below for details)
To implement this Child Protection Policy (CPP)
- A CPP statement must be provided to and signed by all employees and volunteers participating in any Southminster Presbyterian Church program or activity involving children and/or youth.
- In general, volunteer applications will be accepted only after six months of active involvement as members of Southminster Presbyterian Church
- Exceptions to this volunteer application policy may be made at the discretion of the Session or a body authorized by the Session to cover short-term involvement in children’s activities such as service projects, VBS, Sunday morning childcare, etc. In these cases, a new member will be paired with a vetted member or staff person.
- Applications will be submitted through the committee chair responsible for the particular program in which the volunteer wishes to participate. The completed application will be forwarded to the CPP Review Team composed of the Administration Committee Elders and the Christian Education Committee Elders
- The Pastor, Director of Christian Education (DCE), Music Director, childcare workers and other staff who are subject to other Southminster Presbyterian Church and/or National Capital Presbytery (NCP) hiring criteria, will be made aware of the CPP.
The CPP Review Team of Southminster Presbyterian Church is responsible for the oversight and security of the program. All documentation associated with the CPP and volunteer applications, and all documentation concerning potential allegations o physical or emotional abuse or neglect will be held in confidence by the CPP Review Team, the Pastor, the CE Elders/DCE, and whichever staff person is responsible for the program area involved. All documentation will be kept in locked storage in the main office and applications will be kept on file for a 5 year period past the active service of the volunteer.
The CPP Review Team is responsible for review and subsequent approval or disapproval of each volunteer application. If the Review Team disapproves an application, that decision will be reviewed by the Pastor and CE Elders/DCE to determine if any additional actions are necessary beyond the notification to the applicant and the committee.
Upon completion of each application review, the CPP Review Team will first notify the applicant of its decision and subsequently notify the committee. Reference checks, police background checks and child abuse checks shall be made when deemed necessary.
- Initially, a copy of the CPP and the volunteer application will be made available to the congregation on the Southminster Presbyterian Church web site, and a copy of the CPP will be provided annually in a church newsletter.
- The congregation will be informed and reminded of this policy annually.
- The CPP statement and application will be provided to all participants in each new members’ class.
- All volunteers (as defined in the implementation section) will be required to complete the application form as well as providing a signed Child Protection statement for the SPC files.
- All volunteers will be requested to review their CPP statements on an annual basis.
- A review of the intentions of the CPP will be a part of annual teacher training sessions staffed by the DCE and/or the Christian Education Committee.
Procedures for Handling Misconduct Allegations
The issues of sexual and/or emotional abuse or neglect involving a minor, whether perceived or actual, need to be dealt with immediately, effectively, and with great discretion. Maryland law requires that allegations of abuse or neglect of children be reported immediately to proper authorities. In Prince George’s County that report is made to Child Protection Services at Department of Social Services at 301-909-2450 or 301-699-8605 (after hours). It is the responsibility of the pastor, and/or DCE or CE Elders to see that such report has been made. It is suggested that in every case of alleged abuse or neglect of a child the Administration Committee chair contact and involve Southminster’s liability carrier, verify that Child Protective Services has been notified, and that the proper written documentation of the allegations and proceedings is maintained.
The intended procedure is to report any allegation of abuse or neglect to the Pastor, Director of Christian Education CE Elders, and/or the Clerk of Session. If the alleged offender is a professional staff member, the report should be made to the Clerk of Session. In the specific case of the complaint being made against any ordained minister, the Clerk of Session should notify the General Presbyter and Stated Clerk of National Capital Presbytery and request guidance on the procedure to be followed in processing the allegation and obtaining a Moderator for the Session. The Clerk shall also notify the General Presbyter and Stated Clerk if allegations have been raised against a member or non-ordained staff person.
The Administration Committee elders and/ or the pastor will be responsible for maintaining contact with the police, the victim’s family and for determining further actions in consultation with the session and chair of the Administration Committee.
— Adopted by the Session on 1/17/16
Children and Youth Work Application
Volunteers and Employees
Southminster Presbyterian Church
Form date: _____________________
Street__________________ City_____________ Zip Code___________
In which Children/Youth Program (s) are you seeking to become involved?
What skills or interests would you bring to the Children/Youth program?
What experience with children/youth have you had the in last 5 years?
Organization Program Dates Contact (include phone#)
Have you at any time ever:
- Been arrested for any reason ___yes ___no
- Been convicted of, or pleaded no contest to, any crime involving children? ___yes ___no
- Been convicted of, or pleaded no contest to, a moving violation in the last 3 years? __yes ___no
- Engaged in, or been accused of, any act of child molestation and/or exploitation, abuse or neglect? ___ yes ___no
Are you aware of:
- Having any traits or tendencies that could pose a threat to children, youth or others? __yes ___no
- Any reason why you should not work with children, youth or others?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, please explain in detail on an attached sheet.
What church or churches have you regularly attended in the past 5 years?
Church name Pastor’s name/ phone number Years attended
References (other than family members)
Name/Relationship Address Phone
Applicant verification and release:
I recognize that the Southminster Presbyterian Church of Oxon Hill, Maryland is relying upon the accuracy of the information contained herein. Accordingly, I attest and affirm that all the information that I have provided is completely true and correct.
I authorize Southminster Presbyerian Church to contact any person or entity listed in this application and I further authorize any such person or entity to provide Southminster Presbyterian Church with information, opinions, and impressions relating to my background or qualifications. I further authorize
Southminster Presbyterian Church to conduct a criminal background investigation and /or child abuse investigation if the check is deemed necessary.
I voluntarily release Southminster Presbyterian Church and any such organization or entity listed herein by me from liability involving the communication of information relating to my background or qualifications.
I have carefully read the Southminster Presbyterian Church Child Protection Policy.