One in three girls… and one in six boys… will be sexually abused before they are eighteen. I live in a well- established Orlando neighborhood; 717 registered sex offenders – many of them predators – live within five miles from my home. I scrolled through page after page of the 717 offenders, looking at the faces and asking myself “would I have thought that person was a sexual offender?” Of course, some of the faces looked like someone I would be leery of, but many of them would have fooled me based on looks alone. Some of the faces looked like nice young guys, some looked like businessmen and a few looked like the women I have spoken to in line at a grocery store. The point is, you can’t tell who is out to sexually abuse the children in your church just by looking at them or talking to them. The sexual abuser may look like a nicely wrapped gift from God to help in your children or youth ministry…but in reality, he is a Trojan horse sent from the enemy. The good news is churches and other youth organizations can do something to protect the children in their care! A 5 Step Screening Program can help protect your organization.
The 5 Step Screening Program
1. Six Month Rule
Require all employees and volunteers to attend regularly for at least six months in order to apply for positions that have access to minors. A predator will not want to stick around a church for an extended period of time waiting to get access to children, especially when he can go elsewhere and have almost immediate access. Do not give volunteers who are new and unknown immediate access to children.
2. Written Application
Requiring a written application for church volunteers serves the same role as it does for paid employees. The goal is to document the selection process and to be able to demonstrate that the church met the test of reasonable care. A church can be just as liable for the negligent selection of a volunteer as it can be for a paid employee.
3. Background Check
A criminal records check and Florida Department of Law. Enforcement Sexual Predator check should be REQUIRED for all volunteers who will have access to minors. Obtain a signed Consent to Background Check from the applicant first. Background checks should also be obtained for individuals who have unsupervised access to children and youth.
4. Reference Check
The volunteer should list two or more other church members as references, plus any other references that may be available from other forms of service. It is not sufficient to list only parents of children with whom the prospective volunteer may work. Predators may work at grooming the parents of potential victims. The reference list should also include other adults. These people should be contacted for input concerning the volunteer’s qualifications for working with children or youth.
5. Personal Interview
This is the last opportunity for you to find the wolf in sheep’s clothing! Only 15% of sexual offenders are arrested so the other 85% won’t have a criminal record. Dig deep to find out the person’s real motivation to work with children and as much as you can about their background.
Start protecting the children, the workers and your ministry today by implementing a 5 Step Screening Process. Closson Insurance Agency, has over sixty years experience insuring churches and schools. We’ve developed a complete program to help you protect the children in your care – a procedure manual, a training workbook, a training workshop and announcement flyers.
About the Author
Lenise Zika is the owner of Closson Insurance Agency and has over 30 years experience as a property and casualty insurance agent. The wealth of knowledge of the agency staff lead to the agency brand: Knowledge and Experience – It Matters. Recognizing the increase of sexual abuse of children within churches and schools, Closson Insurance Agency wrote a comprehensive, step-by-step Child Protection Procedure Manual and training program for churches. The agency team is passionate about protecting kids from sexual abuse. They give back to the community by conducting CHILD PROTECTION WORKSHOPS to teach churches, schools and youth organizations how to protect kids.