Our Abuse Prevention Policy

Westlock Gospel Chapel (WGC) has the privilege of having many opportunities to minister to children and youth through our various programs and services.  This follows the concerns of Jesus Christ, who insisted that children should have opportunity to be brought to Him and not hindered (Matthew 19:14 and 18:5).  Jesus also had strong words to say against anyone who would interfere with children or cause them to sin (Matthew 18:6).  Unfortunately, we live in a society where we see that love, respect and protection of children is neglected and abuse occurs.

At WGC, we have made a commitment to provide a safe environment for children, youth and  others in the vulnerable sector, as well as our staff and volunteers.

Those involved in any of our ministries to children and youth and others in the vulnerable sector, including staff and volunteers, will be brought to know that we have zero tolerance for sexual abuse, harassment, molestation, corporal punishment or neglect.  These are defined as:

Abuse is primarily categorized as physical, sexual, emotional, or involving neglect.  All child abuse involves the misuse of power. Misuse of power takes place when people take advantage of the authority or power they have over vulnerable people. Vulnerable people include seniors, or anyone with physical or mental disabilities, and children (anyone under 18).

Physical abuse involves the bodily harm to a child by a caregiver.  This could include hitting, shaking or burning a child.

Sexual abuse is any sexual activity with a child by a caregiver including fondling, sexual intercourse or the exposure to a sexual activity.  Child abuse includes behaviour that involves touching and non-touching aspects.

Emotional abuse occurs when there is an absence of a nurturing environment for the child.  It can also occur when the caregiver continually treats the child in a negative demeaning manner.

Neglect is usually a pattern of failure to provide for physical needs such as food, clothing and shelter.  It can also mean a failure to provide for emotional needs, attention and supervision.  This can occur when caregivers do not know about appropriate methods of care, when they cannot adequately supervise, or when they are unable to plan ahead.

Harassment involves persistently and wrongfully badgering a person with annoying, offensive or troubling behaviour.

Improper discipline includes any physical punishment, verbal or emotional abuse, or neglect.  Corporal punishment is absolutely prohibited.

The purpose of this Abuse Prevention Policy is to prevent problems from occurring, to protect the children in our programs and to protect staff and volunteers from false or wrongful allegations.                                                                                                                                                                              
Policy Guidelines
  1. All those who serve at WGC must first meet the following requirements:
    1. All volunteers over the age of 14, must complete a volunteer application form which will include personal information and references, and also conduct a child welfare intervention check and a criminal records check. All three documents will be required every three years.
    2. All volunteers must provide three references from people not related to them who have known them for more than six months, including one church elder or pastor.
    3. Be interviewed by the program director and/or another church leader.

Application forms and other documentation will be kept confidential and on file indefinitely.

  1. In ministries where children are being cared for or supervised, WGC ministry workers will use a team approach, which requires at least two approved workers to be present at all times. One of which is a leader who is required to be at least 18 years of age, and a helper can be a youth helper over the age of 14, provided they have met the requirements. Off premise programs must be supervised by two or more approved adult leaders, with a submitted event plan to the program leader.
  2. At no time should an individual worker be alone in an enclosed space with a child or youth. All classes through grade six require two teachers. Meeting rooms will have windows in their doors and/or doors will be left open.
  3. Children are never to be physically disciplined nor verbally abused. If there are problems with discipline which cannot be remedied with verbal correction given in a positive manner the child should be removed from the program and/or the parents called.  WGC Program supervisors are to be consulted if there are difficulties.
  4. In addition to the responsibilities that WGC ministry workers have (as above), ministry leaders and/or their designate will randomly visit classrooms and check areas under their ministry.
  5. Parents will be made aware of the precautions we are taking to protect their children. A copy of this policy will be available at registration for programs at WGC. Parents will also be reminded to be vigilant especially at times when children are in the building but not specifically being supervised by a WGC church ministry worker. Children grade two and under must be picked up from the program they are participating in by a parent or their designate. At the discretion of ministry supervisors, parental permission will be requested for certain events, such as those which require travel and/or overnight trips.  For this purpose, consent forms will be provided, giving details of the event.
  1. WGC church ministry workers who become aware of the occurrence or allegation of any type of abuse must report it to their supervisor and/or coordinator immediately. Also, a WGC church overseer must be informed immediately.  A committee of 3 people (consisting of an overseer, the ministry leader, and an independent, uninvolved adult) will then convene to investigate the incident.  An alleged perpetrator will be suspended immediately pending the outcome of the investigation.  If the media contacted the church they would be directed to the WGC Service coordinator; volunteers are not to communicate with the media.  Necessary procedures will be followed which may include:
  • Filling out an incident investigation report form. Forms are available from all program leaders, and a copy is in the main office.
  • Reporting the incident to the police and / or Child and Family Services.
  • Contacting the church’s insurance agent.
  • Allegations will be taken seriously. Respect will be given for people’s privacy and confidentiality. 
  1. Nursery Policy: The coordinator needs to ensure they understand church policy in our team approach to children’s ministries and follow the guidelines. Everyone over the age of 14 years MUST have met the volunteer requirements prior to working in the nursery, by filling out the volunteer form as well as doing the police and children’s services background checks.    There will be no more than two youth in the nursery at a time.  Teenagers require parental permission to miss church for nursery duty during the summer.  During the Sunday school year the church leadership require all youth to be in a class or in the service.  Nursery workers are not allowed to change diapers, a parent will be called in the event of a need. Caregiver ratios are to be:  for infants less than 12 months is 1:2, infants 12-19 months 1:3 and 19 months to 3 years 1:4.   Only the parents or those we have written permission on the registration form are allowed to pick up the children from the Nursery. Babies are not allowed to leave the nursery; if a parent needs to be gotten for a child, one worker goes to get them.                                                                                               
  2. This policy will be included in the church handbook and will be referred to at each annual meeting of the church to remind all members of the importance of strict adherence to this policy. There will be a review of this policy for all workers each September, at the start of our programs.
  3. Pictures and/or social media – As part of registration for any program, parents will be given the choice of whether or not they want pictures of their children made available for the church website or within church use. Staff and volunteers may not reproduce photos digitally or otherwise without written permission from the parents.  This means no posting, texting, or copying photos in any manner without written parental consent.

 

Reviewed February 2017