Chase Family Church changed its internal informal guidelines to a child protection policy in September 1998 with the help of the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS).
• We are committed to supporting our parents and families
• We recognise that just as in families, sometimes mistakes are made that have to be rectified, we want to facilitate that openly and honestly.
• As leaders we are committed to the nurturing, protection and safeguarding of all groups, but we recognise that often children are particularly vulnerable.
• We revise our policy every year and reprint it when necessary.
• If you have any concerns for a child or need information on a child protection matter then speak to Mick Le Baigue, the children’s Pastor and coordinator.
• If you would like to peruse a copy of the policy or have your own copy, please ask.
Background of the Child Protection Policy
Although there is much protection for children enshrined in law, the working out of these things is never easy. The Home Office tried with documents like “safe from harm” but the CCPAS, the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service, have made great strides to educate churches and alert them to the need for a policy. Unfortunately the Church has always been seen as a soft target for the paedophile. Firstly, in many Churches they are so desperate for help with children that vetting people would not be thought about. Secondly, the acceptance that churches have of people (which is a good thing) can be seen as naivety and whilst we may accept that a repentant person is fit for heaven, according to the law they may not be fit for working with children. You would not advise an ex alcoholic to work in a pub and therefore a sex offender has no place with children in any circumstances.
If you think that there is some exaggeration in these statements, let me quote from an assistant Chief Constable from the Midlands who was following up on the whereabouts of 11 known sex offenders in his area. He found that after 2 years, 9 of them, yes 9 of them were working with children in Churches. Clearly Churches are an easy target. Too many Churches have swept accusations of abuse “under the carpet” which later have been revealed with catastrophic consequences for all involved. Even saying to a worker, “young …. Says you did such and such, is that true?” Which seems a reasonable thing to do, would be construed by the Police as “warning a suspect of an impending investigation.”
The only way for Churches to be, and be seen, as responsible organisations with zero tolerance of child abuse is to have guidelines and procedures that actually protect everybody. It sends a message, “we want to be open” and “it’s almost unthinkable, but we accept abuse can happen in a Church”. This is why we adhere to a policy and we believe it is honouring to the LORD to have taken this path. As more and more of the guidelines become mandatory, instead of rushing around trying to cobble together something to satisfy the local authority, we have had our policy since September 1998 and can therefore demonstrate our commitment. However, let’s not pat ourselves on the back and be smug! Child Protection is a serious business and everyone can play their part in making Chase a happy and safe environment for all.
How can you help your child / grandchild / friend?
• The first thing we do is listen because there may be a perfectly innocent reason why a child is wary of someone.
• Try not to use the term “secret” but surprises instead.
• Don’t talk to strangers isn’t very effective as 93% of abuse is by persons known to a child.
• Don’t make children kiss people they don’t want to, or sit on their laps.
• Do make sure children realise their body belongs to them, their face and everywhere covered by their swimming costume is out of bounds.
• Hugs and cuddles are fine as long as others are around, don’t discourage it.
• Report any disturbing behaviour, like acting entirely out of character.
• Never feel embarrassed about challenging someone you do not know if you see them near children.
• If you see anyone, however innocent you think they are, saying of doing something that could be misconstrued then warn them. If they do not respond, speak to a Pastor or senior children’s worker.
• Never challenge someone about something you have heard.
• Never gossip about allegations or suspicions.
• Never seek to investigate something yourself.
• Never instigate physical contact with children who are not very familiar with you.
• Be open, friendly and smiling though!