Protecting Our Ministry
Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Mt. Holly
Keeping Our Children Healthy, Safe, and Spiritually Fed
"Two Person Rule"
Always have at least two people around when working with children. Never be alone with a child. This allows for other children to be present when another adult is not available.
Many families in our congregation and in the general public deal with the stress of having a child with a food allergy. This is a very serious concern that can have fatal consequences if not properly taken into consideration. Never give a child food without first checking with a parent to see if it is ok. Do not eat or prepare snack foods containing peanut butter when working with children and youth. Some children are so allergic to nuts that breathing the air near peanuts (or other nuts) can cause a serious reaction. Be careful with lotions and perfumes when working with our children, as these can contain ingredients to which children are allergic.
Remember to respect children's personal space. Give side hugs, high-fives, or arm or back pats. Never touch a child in a place that would make them feel uncomfortable. Never touch or grab a child in anger or to provide discipline. Allow children privacy when they are using the restroom. Change diapers in a place visible to other adults.
"Two Person Rule"
Working With All God's Children
Working with children and families from different background is an exciting part of Christian Education Ministry. It can also provide challenges. As individuals, we bring a variety of ideas and beliefs about religion, life, relationships, family, parenting, and how to care for children. Recognizing that we all come with a variety of beliefs and backgrounds, it is necessary to set guidelines for working with children. The best guidelines to keep in mind are to: Build Relationships, Set Clear Expectations, and to Stop Unwanted Behaviors Before They Start.
Here are several ideas for building relationships and trust with children, youth, and adults:
Stopping Unwanted Behaviors Before They Start
Discipline is a difficult issue when thinking about working with children in church. Many times unwanted behaviors can be curbed before they happen. Keeping children engaged and busy is the best way to prevent behaviors that would require discipline. If an unwanted behavior does occur, the best way to handle the situation is to speak with the child in a way that is respectful and appropriate. If there is a concern about a child or youth, it may be necessary to privately speak with the pastor or the head of the Spritual Education Committee to problem solve.
- Set clear limits and convey your expectations early
- Listen to what is important and watch for ways to show you care
- Create a safe and engaging environment that meets the needs of everyone with whom you are working
- Recognize all cognitive and emotional limits, and plan to reach all needs
Stopping Unwanted Behaviors Before They Start
Responding to Maltreatment
Recognizing & Reporting Abuse
Please note: North Carolina is a mandatory reporting state. If you suspect child abuse or neglect, the law says that you must report to your local Department of Social Services or law enforcement.
You can receive help with how to make a report by calling Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453), 24 hours a day. Or call us for assistance during office hours at 252-338-5658.
What to do if a child tells you of abuse:
The most important job you have when a child tells you s/he has been abused is listening.
Be careful not to show an emotional reaction to what you are hearing. Children often feel responsible for the reactions of adults and this can lead to the child not speaking out further.
Let the child know that what happened was not their fault and be sure to assure the child that you believe him/her.
Kneel or sit in a chair that puts you at the child's eye level and let him or her tell you as much as they wish to tell you.
Do not question the child; it may interfere with an investigation and lead the child to close down.
Do not tell the child that this will never happen again, because that is a promise that you cannot be sure of.
REPORT to appropriate authorities and let them take the investigation from there.
Protect the child's trust by NOT talking about it to anyone except those to whom you are reporting and who may need information in the investigation.
What is Physical Abuse?
Physical abuse includes slapping, punching, hitting, burning, or causing intentional injury to a child. It is a crime.
Signs of Possible Physical Abuse:
- Unexplained welts or bruises (especially in various stages of healing), burns or fractures.
- Drastic changes in behavior from how the child usually acts, such as anxiety, clinginess, withdrawal, or aggression (including destructive behavior).
- Loss of appetite
- Self-destructive behavior
- Expresses little emotion (or none at all) when hurt.
- Discomfort with physical contact.
- Avoidance or fear of certain persons or places.
What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse includes inappropriate touching, kissing or hugging of a child; fondling, involving a child in pornography (or exposing a child to pornography) or involving a child in any sexually promiscuous behavior. It is a crime.
Signs of Possible Sexual Abuse:
- Sexual promiscuity or inappropriate sexual knowledge, language, interest, or behavior for the child's age.
- Child regresses to behaviors of an earlier age, such as bedwetting, speechlessness, etc.
- Has sexually transmitted diseases
- Has nightmares or other sleep disturbances
- Has frequent urinary tract infections
- Has bleeding/itching/discomfort in genital area
- Exhibits delinquent behavior
- Shows signs of depression and possibly has suicidal tendencies
- Engages in self-destructive behaviors (especially adolescents) such as drinking, taking drugs, running away, and prostitution.
What is Emotional Abuse?
Emotional abuse includes insulting, being overly critical of, rejecting, controlling, manipulating, or withholding love from a child.
Signs of Possible Emotional Abuse:
- Delayed development, both physical and emotional
- Extremely low self-esteem
- Physical disorders such as asthma, allergies, ulcers
- Very demanding and aggressive OR extremely passive
- May be antisocial and destructive or depressed and suicidal
- Speech disorders
- Habit disorders (rocking, sucking)
- In adolescents, delinquent behavior
What is Neglect?
Neglect includes leaving a child exposed to danger, failing to provide adequate protection and care, or failing to meet a child's basic needs. It is a crime.
Signs of Possible Neglect:
- Medical needs that are not being attended to
- Abandonment by caregivers/parents
- Constant lack of supervision
- Poor social skills
- Distended stomach, constant hunger (stealing or begging for food), poor hygiene, inappropriate dress
- Is affectionate with anyone
- Cannot stay awake in school
Remember: Reporting suspected child abuse and/or neglect is the law in North Carolina for every citizen. If you have to report, you do not have to reveal your identity if you do not wish to. In cases of suspected abuse, the Department of Social Services must investigate within 24 hours; in cases of suspected neglect, the investigation happens within 72 hours.