Sacred safety helps create an environment where young people can explore their spiritual identity and potential without threat of harm. It includes the resources, practices, policies and procedures that reduce the possibility of dangerous situations, injury or loss. Having consistent, well thought-out guidelines for which staff and volunteers are trained and held accountable reduces the church's liability.
Unity Worldwide Ministries considers all of our leaders—ministers, licensed teachers and certified spiritual educators—to be mandated reporters of child abuse. Churches are strongly encouraged to conduct background screening [below] on all adults—either paid staff or volunteers—working with minors.
Policy and Procedure PDF includes:
- policy and procedural handbooks
- incident and reporting forms
- policy for known sex offender attending church
- sample press release
- volunteer driving procedure
Background Checks for Local, Regional and National Youth Ministry
At Unity Worldwide Ministries, we strongly suggest and encourage individual Unity ministries to conduct background screening on all adults—either paid staff or volunteers—working with minors.
Youth and family ministry provides high-risk opportunities for adults to be alone with a child or teen during church hours and off-site activities. Background screening provides the church with information that may safeguard our children, our adult volunteers, and the church. Screening will not eliminate risk altogether, but does show that the church has acted in good faith to place appropriate adults in responsible positions.
A background screening would include:
- an application on file
- documentation that personal references given on the application have been checked
- a face-to-face interview with the applicant
- a criminal background screen
We suggest churches use a professional background screening company or the local police department. Background screenings would include a national criminal search, and a motor vehicle check would be mandatory for those individuals transporting minors.
All reports are to be considered confidential and stored in a locked area with limited access. Only the minister/and or another staff member (perhaps youth ministry director) should have access.
Due to the structure of Unity Worldwide Ministries, each church is responsible for creating and implementing sacred safety/risk management procedures such as the above. This not only safeguards your children but also those of other Unity ministries with which you interact.
Resources for Sacred Safety
For information on screening volunteers and reporting procedures for suspected abuse, read an excerpt from Chapter 16 of the Youth and Family Ministry Guide: For Directors, Ministers and Volunteers. [#6010] This invaluable resource is a must-have for all Unity churches with children/teens/families. Order the guide for the whole chapter plus information on job descriptions, training and administration.
Reducing the Risk: Keeping Your Ministry Safe From Child Sexual Abuse offers a resource kit to help your ministry become aware of the risks of child sexual abuse within the church; and to create the appropriate policies and procedures that will help reduce those risks through screening, training and prevention.
Safe Sanctuaries: Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church for Children and Youth is another good resource to help your ministry develop awareness and protocol for protecting children in your ministries. This has been embraced by the United Methodist Churches.
Church Mutual Insurance Company has a wide assortment of free safety resources including pamphlets and DVDs covering topics such as child sexual abuse, fire prevention, weather protection, playground checklists, using 15-passenger vans, release forms and more.
Church Mutual's Sample Child and Youth Abuse Prevention Program. This Word document can be customized by your spriritual community. See pages 6-7 for guidelines when a known sexual offender attends your church.
Child Welfare site provides information and resources on child abuse—overview, prevention, reporting requirements for each state and more.
Suggested Companies for Background Checks
First Advantage/Volunteer Advantage offers non-profit organization the services to protect their ministry. This is probably better for larger ministries or those that need a global footprint.
Protect My Ministry provides cost-effective background checks with free re-verification of criminal records and has no minimum requirements.
Shepherd’s Watch Background Checks is part of the Group Publishing family and provides affordable, reliable background checks.