Bethany Gospel Chapel
62 Lindsey Lane
Child Protection Policy and Guidelines
Section A – Policy
A-1. Purpose of Policy:
There are many occasions in the ministry of Bethany Gospel Chapel (BGC) when children are under the care and supervision of church volunteers. The purpose of this Policy is to establish an environment that increases the safety and protection of these children.
God has entrusted these children to our care and Bethany chooses to give a high priority to protecting against potential abuse, either on church property or at church-sponsored events.
We have a tremendous dedication of many people who work tirelessly for the kingdom of Jesus Christ by serving these children that God has placed in our care, and therefore, a secondary purpose of this policy is to seek to protect these valuable workers against false accusations.
The theological and primary motivation is love. The Scriptures emphasize God's love for children, for the church of Jesus Christ, and for the testimony of Jesus' name. In Mark 10:14, Jesus rebukes his disciples “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Christian love is modeled on Christ's sacrificial love as seen in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Also, “love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10). Paul speaks plainly to the elders of the church at Ephesus, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). This New Testament exhortation illustrates the shepherding paradigm of care, protection and guidance that Jesus himself portrayed for the church. Demonstrating protection for his followers, Jesus unequivocally warns, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:5).
BGC subjects itself  to the Massachusetts laws regarding the protection of children. BGC recognizes that the welfare of children in its care is very important and will make considerable effort to hinder the abuse of children by utilizing preventative measures including the screening, training, and supervision of volunteers. This Policy does not constitute a contract between BGC and any party. It is a statement of guidelines and a commitment which BGC and it's volunteers will seek to follow.
• Child - A person under the age of eighteen (18). When appropriate, teenagers 14-17 years old will be designated as “youths”.
• Volunteers -Adults from BGC and other churches who serve in a ministry involving children. Youths may be permitted to serve in various ministries, but may not be designated as an adult volunteer.
• Child Protection Administrator (CPA) – An Elder or a pair of elders, designated by the Elders and approved by the Trustees of BGC to oversee the organization and maintenance of all paperwork associated with this Policy, assist in the screening and selection of volunteers, and provide other assistance as required.
• Service Provider – A selected organization (currently Protect My Ministry) with whom BGC will employ to provide desired services, including online screening, training, background checks and periodic re-verifications.
• Child Abuse - An act, or failure to act, on the part of a parent or caretaker that results in the death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation of a child, or which places the child in an imminent risk of serious harm.
• Sexual Abuse – Any contact or interaction (physical, visual, verbal, or psychological) between a child and an adult when the child is being used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator. Sexual abuse may be committed by a person under the age of eighteen when that person is in a position of power or control over the victimized child.
• Mandatory Reporter, per the State of Massachusetts Law, Section 51A - “Clergy members, including ordained or licensed leaders of any church or religious body, persons performing official duties on behalf of a church or religious body, or persons employed by a religious body to supervise, educate, coach, train or counsel a child on a regular basi s”
A-3. Screening and Training
• Anyone volunteering for a position involving children is expected to have attended BGC for a period of at least 3 months. Exceptions to this rule may be made by the Child Protection Administrator.
• A copy of the Child Protection Policy will be shared with all current and prospective volunteers.
• All current and prospective volunteers shall complete the background check as available through the selected Service Provider (Protect My Ministry).
• The background check will be evaluated by the Child Protection Administrator.
• All background check results will be maintained securely by the Service Provider.
• All sensitive administrative paperwork will be kept in locked storage.
• All username and passwords associated with the Service Provider will be kept confidential by the CPA
A-4. Training and Education
• Training will serve to educate participants about the nature, impact, and prevention of child abuse.
• All current and prospective volunteers will be required to attend the online training program selected by the CPA, currently titled "Protect My Ministry" (www.protectmyministry.com). Volunteers will be responsible for the completion of the program in its entirety, including Child Safety Training, all applications and authorizations, and will be required to provide consent for a background check.
• The CPA will ensure that all volunteers complete the Program requirements as delineated in the Program outline, and will periodically review volunteer tracking and compliance as available via the selected Program.
• All costs incurred for and by the Service Provider will be assumed by BGC.
When children are placed in the care of BGC by a parent or guardian for a church-sponsored program, BGC assumes responsibility for those children during that program and the protocols established in this Policy apply. All children's programs and ministries will have a designated Program Director confirmed by the Elders. All Program Directors will assume a supervisory role over their program and ensure that this Policy's guidelines are being observed. Program Directors shall be responsible for notifying the Elders when provisions of this Policy are not being observed; furthermore, any volunteer who notices instances of noncompliance may notify a member of the Elders of such instances. Program Directors may develop additional child protection guidelines and/or specific training unique to that program's needs.
A-6. Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse
Individuals in leadership at BGC have a legal (as well as moral) responsibility to contact law enforcement or The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (“DCYF”) if they have reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse. The law requires all persons to report suspected child abuse within 24 hours. If you are unsure whether the suspected abuse has occurred, call and discuss the case anonymously with a representative of DCYF at the Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-742-4453). Any person participating in good faith in making a report of abuse or neglect shall have immunity from civil liability or criminal penalty under Massachusetts law. If you suspect abuse has occurred on church property or during a church-sponsored event, it is strongly recommended that you also contact the Eldership at BGC in addition to notifying the proper authorities. The Eldership and Trustees of BGC recognize that all allegations of child abuse must be taken seriously and we are committed to acting forthrightly with due respect for the privacy and confidentiality of involved parties.
Section B – Guidelines
B-1. Practical Guidelines
• Always put the welfare of the child first.
• During the worship service and other times when children are not under the supervision of BGC volunteers, parents or adult guardians shall be responsible for their own children.
• Two Adult Provision: The two-adult provision requires that whenever practically possible, there should be two adults present when supervising one or more children. This provision is designed for the safety of volunteers as well as children, and is expected across all ministry areas. The two adults should seek to be in sight of each other at all times. The purpose of the two-adult provision is to ensure the actions of any one volunteer are known to at least one other volunteer, and to support volunteers in ministry. If a volunteer needs to speak with a child privately, he/she must do so in a visible and public location.
• Because of current mandatory reporting laws, volunteers should never promise confidentiality to a child.
• All classroom windows should be unobstructed at all times, and parents/guardians are welcome to observe any activity with their children.
• All speech should be appropriate for ministry, and should not contain personal intimacies or crude language.
• Volunteers are not permitted to use corporal punishment with any child. If a child continues to misbehave despite repeated verbal warnings, contact the Program Director or the child's parents regarding the inappropriate behavior. Additionally, if a misbehaving child threatens the safety of other children, every effort should be made to remove the other children from harm.
• Appropriate boundaries are the guiding principles for physical contact between children and volunteers. Some positive and appropriate forms of affection are: brief hugs or side hugs; pats on the shoulder; handshakes, high-fives; and fist bumps. Inappropriate forms of affection can be misconstrued and should be avoided. They include: lengthy embraces; kisses; sitting on laps (except for nursery-aged children); wrestling or tickling; piggyback rides; any type of massage; giving wedgies or similar touch of underwear; comments or compliments that relate to physique or body development; as well as any form of unwanted affection.
• Children in Sunday School should be dropped off and picked up by a parent or designated adult.
• Parents or guardians must complete a written permission form before volunteer drivers transport children for a church-sponsored event.
• Program directors will be responsible for ensuring volunteer drivers are familiar with the Policy's transportation guidelines.
• All children must have a current and signed Program Attendance Consent Form prior to attending any church-sponsored event and it will each program Director's responsibility to provide the form to the parents or guardians in a timely manner, and to ensure the forms completion.
• Leaders and teens of opposite gender should avoid being alone together in a non-public area including a vehicle.
• Children must ask permission to use the restroom. It is desirable for a teacher or aide to accompany all children ages 7 and under to the restroom in a group. Check to see to make sure the restroom is empty before allowing the children to enter. Prop the door slightly ajar and wait outside within earshot of the children.
• The nursery director and or volunteers will seek out child's parents or guardians should the child require a diaper change and will not be responsible for providing care regarding a child’s bowel or bladder needs.
• Nursery children should be brought to the nursery by their parents or guardians. Parents or guardians will be provided with the appropriate bracelet containing their child’s name. Upon pick up, the nursery volunteers will only release children to adults in possession of this bracelet.
• Only scheduled and/or approved volunteers, parents or trainees will be in the nursery while it is in use.
• Well child policy – to be in the nursery a child must be afebrile and without signs or symptoms of illness (frequent productive cough, excessive nasal congestion, diarrhea etc).
• To avoid unnecessary allergen exposures, no food or drink will be allowed in the nursery, except for milk designated and labeled in an infant bottle.
• Nursery children will not be released without a parent or guardian present to accept the child directly from the nursery volunteer. In case of emergency such as a fire, children will be taken outside via the front door to the grassy area next to the upper lot until parents are available to retrieve them.
• If a child is excessively disruptive or inconsolable the nursery volunteer may opt to contact the parent and ask to have the child removed from the nursery.
B-2. Prohibited Conduct
The following list describes prohibited conduct those providing care for children, whether consensual or non-consensual:
• abuse of any kind, including sexual abuse.
• sexual exploitation or molestation.
• disseminating, exhibiting, or displaying pornographic material.
• hitting, kicking, slapping, or shoving.
• selling, giving, or furnishing any child with any tobacco substance, alcohol or controlled drug.
• swearing or using obscene, foul, or sexually explicit language.
• demonstrating any romantic or sexual interest in a child.
• removing any clothing from a child (except as appropriately required for seasonal outerwear).
• sleeping in the same bed or bedding with any child at an overnight event.
B-3. Transportation Guidelines
All church-sponsored transportation should be provided by qualified drivers. The Child Protection Administrator shall be responsible for approving volunteer drivers and maintaining an authorized-driver list.
Qualified drivers must possess the following items:
1. A valid driver's license.
2. Current proof of minimum liability insurance coverage (as required by the state of Rhode Island or Massachusetts)
3. Current vehicle registration.
• All drivers must adhere to the following:
• Drivers will not pick up more children than the vehicle is designed to carry.
• All passengers must wear a properly fitting seat belt, or in the case of children, be in the appropriate weight specific booster and/or car seat. Program directors should coordinate with parents to provide the appropriate seating for their child.
• Drivers may not transport any children who do not have a current, signed Program Attendance Consent Form. Program directors are responsible for assigning and communicating with drivers the specific children to be transported.
• Children should never be left alone in a vehicle.
• Drivers will not use a cell phone, operate audio media or GPS system while the vehicle is in motion.
B-4. Building Safety
Children are not permitted in the church's office without supervision; additionally, children should not use church equipment including copiers, printers, computers, administrative cabinets, etc. - unless under the direct supervision of an adult.
All non essential egress points (Mezzanine doors for example) should remain locked unless in active use to prevent unsupervised access into the building.
Section C – Implementation
The elders of Bethany Gospel Chapel are responsible for implementing the policies described in Section A. They will review it bi-annually to ensure its continued effectiveness.
The trustees of Bethany Gospel Chapel are responsible for implementing the guidelines described in Section B. They will review the entire document bi-annually to ensure continued effectiveness and appropriateness, and will recommend changes to the elders and the CPA.