As new rhythms are formed, the school year begins, and many more of our relationships are happening through an online audio/video means, many of us are considering new policies as we interact virtually as the church for various children and youth ministries, and face new challenges amid COVID-19.
We are highlighting a variety of resources that may be helpful for churches as you process how best to create healthy containers for this unique moment:
COVID-19 and its vast repercussions: The Network article The Disturbing Dark Side of COVID-19 describes some of the vast changes caused by COVID-19 in relationship to domestic violence, abuse of children, mental health, and all types of addictions, including pornography. While “safe church” may not be on the front of our minds, this is a time of great need, especially for those who are vulnerable to abuse of power. Abuse Awareness Sunday (September 27th) is just around the corner—there are so many creative ways we can make a difference as the church, our website here features many resources that can be used for Abuse Awarness Sunday.
Youth Ministry: Consider this set of recommendations of Best Practices When Working with Youth During a Pandemic. The article was originally written by Rev. Jill Olds, director of the Yale Youth Ministry Institute, and it was shared with us by our partner in ministry, Doves Nest. It notably follows many keys prevention protocols of in-person gatherings, like always having two unrelated adults present, ensuring leaders have had a criminal background check, and that they understand protocols for reporting suspected child abuse.
However, it also goes further to discuss items we may not initially consider, for instance, reminding us to wear clothing that is appropriate while on a video call, or ensuring that the background of a video call is an appropriate place to interact with youth. The author also recommends that video calls should be recorded whenever possible. Check out the article Best Practices When Working with Youth During a Pandemic to see her full list of recommendations.
Virtual Streaming Church Services and Gatherings: While many churches have become quite experienced at livestreaming church services, this article may still be helpful as best practices are formed. It walks through some considerations of those who may be present at a livestream, safety and copyright standards, and also shares some abuse prevention guidelines that are being used by an abuse response team in the CRCNA.
Social Media: Many interactions are now happening over social media—it can be wonderful to stay in communication, however, it also may bring a different set of challenges. This is a Network article sharing social media policy resources from Protect Young Eyes. Protect Young Eyes, a partner in prevention, has a host of resources for parents helping their children navigate online learning. With all the virtual learning going on this fall, parents can feel overwhelmed trying to understand the risks of the various platforms our children are using. Find a list of Protect Young Eyes tech-ready parent webinars here - they're free, 30 minutes each, and very practical.
Looking for other resources? Our denomination has provided a comprehensive set of online resources for COVID-19!