Many of us with kids still at home have spent the last several days or weeks preparing for our children’s return to school. My four go back to school tomorrow morning. After a lovely summer here in Nova Scotia with lots of camping and swimming and sleeping in, it’s going to be tough to get back in the routine of waking up early, packing lunches, doing homework and going to bed on time!
The start of the new school year is a time when many church programs begin to ramp up again as well, and it’s a good time to remind your congregation of their commitment to safe church. While safe church commitments need to be maintained the entire year, the fall presents a special opportunity to talk to your membership about topics related to safety and abuse awareness. In my home congregation, we are planning a gathering of church volunteers in order to remind them of our safe church policies and procedures.
Here are some reminders about how your church can help ensure a safe environment for all who come through your doors.
- Do you have a safe church policy? Your church may be one of many congregations still in need of developing one. There are many resources on the Safe Church ministry website to help guide you.
- Does your congregation have a safe church committee or a representative on the classical safe church team? Learn more here.
- Do you screen your church volunteers, especially those who have contact with children, youth and other vulnerable individuals? Check out this background screening checklist provided by the Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.
- Are you educating your children and youth about how to stay safe? Education is the best prevention! The “Circle of Grace” program is a curriculum supplement for grades K-12 that empowers children and young people to actively participate in a safe environment for themselves and others. It includes God’s presence as an integral component, and incorporates a philosophy that acknowledges the sacredness of each person, encouraging respect for self and others.
- Will you set aside some time later this month or sometime this year for an Abuse Awareness Sunday, during which you can share some of this year’s valuable resources focussing on the topic of internet pornography and its harms?