Our children are precious. It is not only our job, but our privilege to protect them! If we do not do this, who will?
For so long churches have been complacent about protecting our children, and as a result many children have been hurt. It is long past time for this to stop! There are several BASIC steps that a church can take, as well as many others.
First, a background check of anyone who works with children is essential. This of course will not catch all offenders (some may not have been caught yet), but it is a good starting point. Next, every room that is used for children should have windows in the doors so that someone can walk by at any time and see what is going on inside the room. Another very big thing that is IMPERATIVE is that there ALWAYS be at least 2 unrelated adults in a room with children at all times.
I have heard so many excuses about why the last thing is unreasonable. 1.) We don't have enough volunteers ~ if this is true shut down rooms until you have enough people to help (I'm sure you would get more help quickly if you actually did this). 2.) I really trust the person that is in there, they would never hurt a child ~ FYI most child abusers are amazing at the art of manipulation. They have people (especially those in a church) trusting them completely in very little time. 3.) There isn't a need for more than one person because there are only ___ children ~ This policy is not only for the protection of the children, but it also protects the integrity of the church. Not only that, but it also just makes sense to always have more than one adult. If there is an emergency and you are alone it is much more difficult to get the necessary help because you can't leave the other children alone to take care of that emergency.
I will admit that in the past I have been the only adult in a room with children at church. As I have learned more I have seen how unwise that is. We recently left a church, and while there were several reasons for our leaving, this was one of the big ones. If simple child protection policies, such as the ones I've suggested, aren't put in place and consistently followed, then my children are NOT safe in your "ministry".
As I mentioned before, these are only basic steps. There are many amazing resources out there, such as G.R.A.C.E,that can help. They not only have amazing suggestions on their website, they can come and work with your ministry (if hired) to educate people and help to create protection policies in your ministry.
If you are in ministry I beg of you to see how important this issue is! Our children deserve to be protected! It is time for the church to wake up and step up and do everything they can to ensure that our children are safe!