Guest Post – 20 Proven Ways To Keep Kids Safe At Church
This week we are featuring a guest post from Dale Hudson. Dale is the visionary behind Building Children’s Ministry, which helps churches create relevant and successful children and family ministries. With over 31 years of ministry experience, Dale is the author of several books and has been featured in Time Magazine and Christianity Today. He is a sought-after speaker and executive coach who has a passion for equipping churches to reach kids and families.
In this post, Dales shares 20 ways to keep kids safe in today’s high-alert culture and provide parents peace of mind, when leaving their kids at church.
Life can be a scary place for today’s kids. They are growing up knowing they could be attacked anywhere they go.
and yes…even at church.
And then there is the pandemic. Parents are on high-alert when it comes to their kids being safe while they are at church. Churches that want to reach families in today’s culture must have a clear safety and security plan. They must also have a way to keep Covid-19 from being spread at church.
And this plan should be communicated to new parents as they are checking in and being walked to their child’s classroom/environment. This will help new families feel more comfortable leaving their children in your care.
These 20 keys are locks that you can use to keep the kids in your ministry safe. None of them are foolproof when used alone. But the more locks you add, the safer the kids in your ministry will be.
These 20 keys can help you create a safe place for kids while they are on your property.
Ready? Let’s check them out.
- Background check. Every person who serves must first have a background check ran.
- Reference calls. Yes. You need to actually call the references. I was recently at a church where the previous pastor committed adultery and was dismissed from his role. He went straight to another church, and the same thing happened there as well. This could have been avoided if the second church had simply picked up the phone and asked a few pertinent questions before hiring him.
- No one ever alone with a child. Not in a classroom. Not in a car. No place. No exceptions. I was recently made aware of a very high-profile church where a child was abused in the bathroom. The volunteer should never be alone with the child.
- No one goes in the bathroom with a child. This goes back to the previous point about not being alone with a child.
- Minimum of 2 volunteers in each room (husband and wife doesn’t count as two). The volunteers in the room should have been through training and know the safety precautions they must take.
- Lock the children’s ministry doors once service begins. Ideally, lock the hallway doors or entrance doors that lead into the children’s ministry area. At a very minimum, lock each classroom door once service starts. This will slow down a shooter that is targeting that area.
- Volunteer security team. Enlist a team of volunteers who help with these steps. Checking doors. Making sure exit doors are secure—walking hallways, etc.
- Hire a police officer. You may think having a policeman in your kids’ common areas is overkill. Actually, it is not. Parents (whose number one concern is the safety of their children) will welcome this. The officer should be in uniform.
- Personal interview with each potential volunteer. Sit down with them and ask the hard questions. If you’d like a list of the questions I ask, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be glad to send it to you.
- Ratios. Proper ratios are crucial to keeping kids safe at church. Putting 2 volunteers in a room with 30 preschoolers is not a good thing when it comes to keeping kids safe. In this article, I share what the ratios should be for each age group.
- Put alarms on doors. Place an alarm on each door that is not supposed to be gone through. This will help you, and your volunteer know if some is trying to access or leave through the wrong door.
- Security name tags (check-in and check-out). Establish the rule that no one (no exceptions – not even the pastor) can take a child without having a matching name tag. This must be non-negotiable.
- Check the bathroom before a child goes in. Have the child wait outside the bathroom while you take a quick step into the bathroom to make sure no one is in there. The best plan is to only let kids use these designated bathrooms (kids’ only sign on the door). Of course, the best scenario is to build bathrooms in your children’s ministry areas, so they don’t have to leave the kids’ areas.
- Security cameras. Install security cameras in each classroom and record when the children are present.
- Only allow people with a security tag inside your children’s ministry area. Ask to see their security tag before they enter.=
- Stay connected to the parents during the service. This will allow you to contact them as needed. You can use a pager system, text to a cell phone, numbers on the screen, etc.
- Don’t allow men to change diapers. This one is pretty straightforward.
- Have a lockdown plan in case of an active shooter or intruder. Train each leader about what to do in this type of situation.
- Each room should have a window so people can see inside the room from the hallway.
- Ask about allergies. Most parents will tell you, but play it safe by asking each new family if the kids have any allergies that you need to be aware of.
When you follow these steps, you will create a safe place for kids and families. Parents will feel comfortable enough to leave their child with you. And your church will begin to reach and keep more young families.