Safe Ministry Map – Chapter 2

MINISTRY WITH CHILDREN AND YOUTH

2.2 Code of Conduct for Children’s and Youth Ministry

The Code of Conduct is written to protect both the children in our churches, and leaders from situations where their integrity or actions might be questioned.

 A children’s or youth ministry leader must:

  • Never abuse children or young people, or cultivate relationships in order to initiate or cloak abuse of children or young people.
  • Never be alone with a child or young person away from the presence of other adults.
  • Never have children or young people to his or her home or visit children or young people in their home when no other adult is present, and must never meet privately with a child or young person outside of church activities, except with the permission of a parent or guardian.
  • Never touch a child or young person in a manner which is inappropriate given their age, gender or cultural background.
  • Never help children in ways that involve intimate care if the child is capable of doing it on his or her own (such as, toileting or changing clothes).
  • Never physically discipline a child or young person.
  • Never make drugs, alcohol or cigarettes available to children or youth.
  • Never develop inappropriate special relationships with particular children or youth that could be seen as involving favouritism or any form of special treatment.
  • Never engage in any contact with a child or young person that is secretive (whether physical or through electronic media or in any other way).
  • Never become romantically involved with any person under the age of 18 in the youth or children’s ministry.

There are good reasons for this code of conduct. Those who seek to abuse children may use group-based activities in order to gain the trust of a young person. Having gained that trust, they may then engage in one-to-one activities that offer an opportunity for abuse to occur, including sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse of a child often starts with something relatively minor, but can then gradually build up to more involved behaviors through a process of grooming. Grooming is often characterized by secrecy.

Those at greatest risk of child abuse in ministry are undoubtedly teenagers. This is because youth ministry more easily allows for the possibility of one-to-one unsupervised contact. This is why there must always be more than one leader present, and that no opportunities present themselves for a leader to engage in one-to-one activity with a child away from the presence of other adults.

A breach of this Code of Conduct may raise issues concerning a person’s fitness to continue as a leader.

Leaders are to inform the senior minister or the Safe Ministry Representative if they observe another leader acting in a way that may be contrary to this Code of Conduct.