Safe Ministry Map – Chapter 2

MINISTRY WITH CHILDREN AND YOUTH

 

2.4 Age-specific guidelines for ministering to children

a. Creche (0-2 years)

Health and Safety
Children should never leave the crèche area unless accompanied by the adult responsible for them.

Be aware of issues of hygiene. If a child vomits or soils an area of the crèche, that area should be cleaned and disinfected as soon as possible. Toys and equipment should be cleaned regularly.

Ensure that no furniture or other items could topple or drop onto a child.

Parents
Where parents are readily accessible, they should be asked to change nappies and undertake toileting. If parents are not available, experienced female leaders should carry out these tasks, but always with another child or leader present.

Physical Contact
Very young children are highly dependent on touch for their proper development. This means that in dealing with them, we must be very aware of their needs at particular ages and stages.
Physical contact is primarily for the purpose of assisting or comforting a child for a short period of time. Leaders should not continue physical contact for longer than necessary to achieve this purpose. All physical contact should be in the open and able to be seen by others, for example, sitting on a leader’s lap to be comforted should occur in view of others.

Appropriate physical contact for this age includes:

hand-holding to reassure or to guide,

offering open hugs (placing one arm around the child’s shoulders) to welcome or comfort a child,

short periods of carrying, sitting on one’s lap, rocking, rubbing or patting backs to comfort a child who is distressed,

sitting on one’s lap to check discomfort or ill health,

sitting beside a leader to read a book,

necessary touching of genital areas while changing a nappy, and

appropriate touch to administer first aid or assist with personal hygiene, for example, changing clothes or blowing noses.

Inappropriate physical conduct for this age includes:

hitting or shaking,
forceful grabbing or picking up, and
unnecessary touching of the genital areas.

 

b. Preschoolers (3-5 years)

Health and Safety
Children should never leave the preschool area unless accompanied by the adult responsible for them.

Children of this age are generally toilet-trained. A leader should accompany a child to the toilet with another leader or child, but should assist the child only where necessary.

Physical Contact
Except in circumstances of physical danger or medical emergency, children have the right to refuse touch. In general, physical contact should be initiated by the child or occur with their permission.

Appropriate physical contact for this age includes:

open hug (with space between you) with the child’s permission,
placing arm around shoulder and giving a gentle squeeze from the side,
patting backs,
hand-holding to reassure or guide,
sitting beside a leader to read a book,
sitting on a female leader’s lap to check discomfort or ill health,
carrying for a short period to reassure if hurt or facilitate separation from a parent (providing the child wants to be held), and
holding firmly across the upper arms to restrain or prevent injury.

Inappropriate physical contact includes:

hitting or shaking,
forceful grabbing or picking up,
kissing or coaxing a child to kiss you,
extended hugging or tickling, and
touching any area of the body normally covered by a swimming costume.

c. Infants and primary age children (6-12 years)

Health and Safety
Procedures for the conclusion of the program must be clearly thought out and communicated to parents. Infants will generally need to be collected by parents. Will primary-aged children be dismissed or will they need to be supervised until parents collect them?

If Sunday School is held off-site, there should be clear guidelines and procedures to follow. The following issues need to be thought through:

  • Are children taken there by parents or leaders?
  • How are children collected?
  • How is communication maintained between off-site groups and the main congregation?

Parents
Parents should be kept informed of details of the ministry, including the names of leaders, current and future curriculum, and upcoming special events, etc.

Be considerate of parents by being careful about children’s clothing, eg, wearing paint shirts when painting and avoiding extra rough games.

Physical Contact
Appropriate physical contact for this age includes:

  • open hug (with space between you) with the child’s permission or placing arm around shoulder and giving a gentle squeeze from the side,
  • high fives, and
  • holding firmly across the upper arms to restrain or prevent injury.

Inappropriate physical contact includes:

  • hitting or shaking,
  • forceful grabbing,
  • kissing or coaxing a child to kiss you,
  • extended hugging or tickling,
  • touching any area of the body normally covered by a swimming costume, and sitting children on a leader’s lap.