Child Protection First!

Child Abuse Prevention Policy for Dawson Memorial Baptist Church

PURPOSE: It is the purpose and intent of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church to provide a safe, secure environment to teach and care for the children and students of our community.

GOAL: Our goal is to protect children from sexual abuse, child molestation, or any type of inappropriate sexual behavior by employees or volunteers in this church and also to protect employees and volunteers from false accusations.

STATEMENT OF RESTRICTION: Any person who may pose a threat to children, youth or vulnerable adults will be prohibited from working in any ministry involving children, youth, or vulnerable adults.

DEFINITION OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: The National Resource Center on Child Sexual Abuse defines child sexual abuse as "any sexual activity with a child, whether in the home by a caretaker, in a day-care situation, in any organized ministry, whether at the main facility (church) or away, or in any other setting, including on the street by a person unknown to the child. The abuser may be an adult, an adolescent, or another child...."

Child sexual abuse can be violent or non-violent. It is criminal behavior of a sexual nature that involves children. Child sexual abuse can involve fondling; penetration of the oral, genital, and anal areas; sexual intercourse; and forcible rape. Other forms of abuse can include verbal comments, any exposure to pornographic materials, obscene phone calls, exhibitionism, or allowing children to witness sexual activity.

DEFINITION OF A MINOR: A minor is any individual under the age of 19 years.


The policy and procedure set forth below will apply to all people who provide supervision or have custody of minors or who have opportunity to have contact with minors in church facilities or church sponsored activities.

This policy will address four (4) areas that are critical for the protection of the children, our employees and our church: selection process, protection policy, reporting procedures, and responses to allegations.

I. SELECTION PROCESS

A. Employee – anyone who is paid by the church on a full-time or part-time basis, whether or not they work directly with preschoolers, children and students

Current employee (employed prior to Board of Deacons’ policy approval date)

  • Complete a confidential application form
  • Complete a consent to release confidential information
  • Recommendation Report completed by supervising staff member
  • Criminal records check
  • DHR records check

New employee (employed after Board of Deacons’ policy approval date)

  • Complete a confidential application form
  • Complete a consent to release confidential information
  • Interview by appropriate staff member
  • References checked and verified
  • Criminal records check
  • DHR records check

All records, forms and reports will become a part of the employee’s confidential personnel file. These files are kept by the Executive Pastor and are available to the Senior Pastor, Executive Pastor, the employee’s immediate supervisor and members of the Personnel Committee.

B. Volunteer – anyone who is not paid by the church on a full-time or part-time basis, and is serving in any position involving the supervision or custody of minors. Examples: Nursery, childcare, preschool, grade school, middle school and high school workers, bus drivers, teachers, chaperones, DiscipleNow hosts, etc.

Current volunteer (approved by appropriate staff prior to September 1, 2003)

  • Complete a confidential application form
  • Complete a consent to release confidential information
  • Recommendation Report completed by supervising staff member
  • DHR records check
  • Possible criminal records check*

New volunteer (new volunteers and all volunteers enlisted after September 1, 2003)

  • Complete a confidential application form
  • Complete a consent to release confidential information
  • Interview by appropriate staff member
  • References checked and verified
  • DHR records check
  • Possible criminal records check*

*Criminal records check for volunteers will be limited to any criminal activity involving the following: (1) a minor; (2) any type of sexual offense; (3) any type of pornographic or obscene material; (4) any drugs or alcohol within the last five years; (5) any type of physical violence within the last five years.

In addition to the above requirements, a volunteer must be a member of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church for at least six (6) months. A volunteer who does not meet these membership requirements may serve only upon verification of references and approval of the appropriate age-group minister.

All records, forms and reports will become a part of the church’s Child Protection First! confidential filing system. A person will be employed or designated to administer the Child Protection First! program. That person will be the custodian of the files of all volunteers. No other person will have access to the files without the prior written consent of the Senior Pastor or Executive Pastor.

C. Minors – In addition to the above requirements a minor who is an employee or volunteer must also submit a separate certification from his or her parent or guardian that the parent or guardian knows no reason why the minor should not be allowed to work directly or indirectly with other minors.

II. PROTECTION POLICY

A. Two Adult Rule

Screened age-group ministers, division directors, hall monitors, greeters and/or program directors will be present, or nearby, and available on each floor and in the hallways, classrooms, vehicles or other enclosed areas where minors are present. Reasonable effort will be made to have two (2) screened adult workers present, or nearby, with preschoolers, children and students during church activities. Reasonable effort will be made to assure that one adult is not left alone with one minor. A husband and wife working the same room will typically be considered as one adult for purposes of this policy.

B. Rule of Three

For times when the precaution of the Two Adults Rule cannot be supported, these policies require at least three individuals (at least one being a screened adult) be present at every function and classroom, vehicle, or other enclosed area where minors are present. Age and capacity of ministry participants should be considered when following the Rule of Three due to legal difficulties posed by the competency and credibility of testimony from very young children or individuals with other legal incapacities.

C. Restroom Policy

When using the restroom, children age 5 and under and vulnerable adults will be accompanied by a screened adult to and from the restroom. The screened adult will ensure the restroom is safe. If assistance is required, the screened adult will assist the individual with the door propped open so that a second screened adult can visually monitor the assisting adult. Two screened adults should be present when assistance will be required in the restroom.

When restrooms are directly accessible to children from the room where children’s activities are taking place and not accessible to the general public, children can be allowed to utilize the restroom alone.

D. View Windows/Open Doors

Reasonable effort will be made to place preschoolers, children and students in rooms with view windows or open doors for all teaching/learning activities.

E. Over-Night Activities

All Employees and Volunteers will be required to comply with all of the Child Protection First! Policies during Dawson-sponsored over-night activities.

F. Local Activities

All Employees and Volunteers will be required to comply with all of the Child Protection First! Policies during Dawson-sponsored local activities.

G. Non-local Activities

All participants should have written parental consent and a notarized or witnessed medical release form. Consent forms may be completed for a one-year period and should be renewed annually. All Employees and Volunteers shall be required to comply with all of Dawson's policies including, but not limited to, those outlined in Child Protection First! during Dawson-sponsored non-local activities.

H. Preschool Security Policies and Age-Specific Guidelines

Dawson Memorial Baptist Church has a detailed, working preschool and children’s security policy that should be conscientiously followed. All Employees and Volunteers shall abide by the preschool and children’s security policy as well as any other applicable age-specific guidelines and Child Protection First! Questions about these policies should be directed to the Minister to Preschoolers, Minister to Children, the appropriate age-group minister or Executive Pastor.

I. Weekday Programs

Due to the professional relationship of the teacher and student, parents understand that only one teacher may be present in certain learning or artistic performance programs.

III. REPORTING PROCEDURES

Observed or reported child sexual abuse, child molestation, or any type of inappropriate sexual behavior should be reported immediately to the Minister to Preschoolers, Minister to Children, Minister to Students, the appropriate age-group minister or Executive Pastor.

Reporting abuse can precipitate severe consequences to those involved, so it should never be done casually or thoughtlessly, and certainly not for malicious purposes. At the same time, failing to report abuse can have severe consequences to a child at risk. Therefore, anyone having reasonable cause to suspect abuse should talk with an appropriate person to see what steps could and should be taken to protect the child and help the family. When time and circumstances permit, the report should first be made to the appropriate age-group minister, who will then proceed with the correct and thorough process.

IV. RESPONSES TO ALLEGATIONS

A. All allegations will be taken seriously. Church staff will take appropriate action to report allegations in accordance with the reporting laws of the State of Alabama, insurance policy requirements, and advice of legal counsel.

B. The official spokesperson for the church will be the Senior Pastor, the Executive Pastor or their designated appointee. No other staff members or church members shall speak to the media regarding such matters.

C. The church staff will document (in writing, with date and signature) all efforts in the handling of any incident.

D. The church staff will not deny, minimize, or blame any individual involved in allegations. Dawson Memorial Baptist Church staff will minister to all involved.

V. AMENDMENT OF POLICY

The Board of Deacons may amend these policies upon 30 days notice to the congregation.

VI. EFFECTIVE DATE

Employees

Upon approval of Board of Deacons this 13th day of May, 2002

Volunteers

Upon approval of the Church this 18th day of August, 2002
fully implemented by September 1, 2003.
Revised Date – July 11, 2016
Amended by request dated May 2016 by Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.

Upon approval by Board of Deacons this 11th day of July 2016.

Revised Date – March 13, 2017

Notification of change to church dated February 12, 2017 as posted in the Together of that date.

Legal counsel for this policy was provided by Phillip Corley and Michael L. Jackson of Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff and Brandt, L.L.C.