- For Parishes
5.1 Children are entitled to be safe and protected. They have the right to be respected, listened to and their particular needs addressed in all church activities, whether mixed aged or child specific.
5.2 Ministry where children are involved requires absolute trustworthiness.
5.3 Clergy and church workers with overall authority in a church body (e.g. incumbents and school principals) have a responsibility that cannot be delegated for the implementation and maintenance of proper systems for the safety and welfare of children participating in its pastoral ministry.
5.4 When they are exercising a pastoral ministry involving children in a church body, clergy and church workers (e.g. Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders) have responsibility for the safety and welfare of children in their care.
5.5 Clergy and church workers have authority over children because of their position and power because of their greater age, maturity, physical size and life experience. Abuse arises from the misuse of authority or power. Any form of child abuse is always wrong.
5.6 Due to the inherent imbalance of power, children are incapable of giving valid consent to abuse.
5.7 Appropriate physical contact is important for children’s healthy development.
These standards state the Church’s expectations for personal behaviour and the practice of pastoral ministry.
5.8 If you have overall authority in a church body, you are to ensure that:
5.9 If you are exercising a pastoral ministry involving children in a church body you are to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety and welfare of the children in your care.
5.10 You are not to abuse children.
5.11 When engaged in pastoral ministry you are not to administer corporal punishment to children in your care.
5.12 You are not to make available to children any prohibited material, except wine in the context of a Holy Communion service.
5.13 Before you allow a person who is currently charged with or convicted of an offence against a child to participate in activities involving children, you are to:
5.14 If you know or reasonably suspect that a child is at risk of harm from child abuse, you are to report this to the appropriate civil authorities.
5.15 If you know or reasonably suspect that another member of the clergy or a church worker has abused a child, you are to report this to the appropriate civil authorities and the Director of Professional Standards.
These guidelines explain and illustrate best practice and highlight practical ways to achieve it.
5.16 You need to be aware of the signs, symptoms and characteristics of child abuse and its impact on children.
Abuse of a child can be categorised as emotional, physical, sexual, or spiritual. It can also arise from neglect, bullying or harassment.
The signs and symptoms can include:
Sexual abuse of a child is often preceded by grooming.
The sexual abuse of a child commonly has the following characteristics:
The abuse of a child commonly causes psychological and spiritual harm and is likely to lead to the impairment of their social, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and intellectual development and/or disturbed behaviour.
The effects of child abuse extend well beyond the abuser and their primary victims. The families of the victim and abusers as well as their communities can also experience a high degree of distress when revelations of abuse emerge. Often they can deny the disclosure and so reject the victim rather than face reality. Once the reality is confronted, the community will commonly experience profound shock, guilt about failing to protect the primary victim, deep hurt and disillusionment.
Grooming actions are designed to establish an emotional connection to lower the child’s inhibitions through the development of a relationship with the child, and increased opportunity to see the child. Grooming involves psychological manipulation that is usually very subtle, drawn out, calculated, controlling and premeditated. Typically, grooming occurs incrementally: accessing the victim, initiating and maintaining the abuse, and concealing the abuse.
All Australian jurisdictions have grooming offences, which vary in scope and application. Grooming offences may target online or other electronic communications, subjecting children to child exploitation material, and/or using intoxicating substances to engage children for the purpose of sexual activity.
5.17 You need to be aware of the characteristics of sexual offenders. A sexual offender may be a friend, a family member, a neighbour, a peer, or a person in authority.
Sexual offenders generally:
Sexual offenders who target vulnerable adults and children will often undertake a grooming process as a precursor to abusive behaviour.
5.18 Taking all reasonable steps to ensure the safety and welfare of children for whom you have overall responsibility or are in your care requires you to prepare a risk management plan which considers the following issues:
These issues are considered in paragraphs 5.19 to 5.47.
5.19 If you have responsibility for compliance with civil and Church screening and selection requirements, you should exercise care with the selection of leaders involved in mixed age or children’s activities. You should ensure that any parents or guardians assisting with these activities are screened.
5.20 Consult the Director of Professional Standards as to whether a risk assessment is required before you appoint someone who has:
5.21 You need to recognise your own limits and not undertake any ministry that is beyond your competence or certification or that is not part of the role for which you have been or are being trained. Arrange for any such ministry to be provided by an experienced person or specialist agency. This applies particularly to outdoor or adventure activities such as canoeing, abseiling and hiking. Refer any child who requires specialised help (e.g. counselling for depression, abuse or addiction) to an appropriately qualified person or agency.
5.22 While children should be able to trust and confide in clergy and church workers—and you should expect to develop relationships of this character with children—avoid fostering inappropriate dependence on the part of a child.
5.23 Encourage children to develop leadership skills and undertake leadership roles that are appropriate for people of their age.
5.24 When you engage or use an external service provider for an activity (e.g. when you engage a specialist in outdoor education or a speaker for a camp), you should:
5.25 The degree of supervision required will vary according to the nature and environment of the activity, the age and maturity of the children and the size of the group. Having multiple leaders to ensure that supervision and accountability standards are maintained is vitally important. You should:
5.26 You should identify and minimise all potential hazards before embarking on any activity with children. This would include:
5.27 Games or activities that emphasise gender, physical, intellectual or ethnic differences should be assessed for their appropriateness. Think about what message children may learn from the way events are organised and conducted.
5.28 You should review in their entirety aural and visual materials, such as videos, films, computer games, graphics, photographs and lyrics, to ensure that any elements containing violence, sexual activity or lifestyle are appropriate for the intended audience. Exercise care if a film or computer game has been recommended by the Office of Film and Literature Classification as unsuitable for viewing or playing by children of a particular age (e.g. MA, M and PG classifications). In assessing whether something is suitable you should take into account the age of the youngest child present. If in doubt, seek the advice of a supervisor or colleague.
5.29 To minimise the possibility of children being harmed, give careful consideration to any activities or games that require children to act alone or in pairs independent of leaders.
5.30 Ensure that no children’s activity includes:
5.31 When taking children away from church premises, obtain the written consent of a parent or guardian and keep them informed of the place and timing of the event. If you can, include parents or guardians in a leadership team of mixed gender.
5.32 When meeting a child privately, you should:
5.33 Avoid working alone or in isolation with children. You should ensure that:
5.34 When events require children to sleep over, you should ensure that where possible:
5.35 Venues should allow for the privacy of all parties to be respected, particularly when changing clothes, washing and toileting. If you need to wash or toilet a child, tell another adult what you are doing.
5.36 Ensure that the risk management plan includes relevant contact details (e.g. emergency services and specialised help) and that a first aid kit appropriate to the activity is available. In the case of camps and similar activities, ensure that at least one adult present has first aid training.
5.37 Do not administer prescription medications to a child without the written consent of a parent or guardian.
5.38 Obtain information from parents or guardians about the particular physical and mental health or safety needs of children in your care (e.g. allergies, depression).
5.39 When making transport arrangements, take reasonable steps to ensure that:
5.40 To the extent practicable, avoid being alone with a child in a motor vehicle or driving a child home unaccompanied. If such a situation is unavoidable, inform another adult of the trip and the reason for it.
5.41 If you have overall responsibility in a Church body, you should ensure that:
5.42 If you have overall authority for children’s ministry in a Church body you should ensure that a disciplinary strategy is developed, made known and implemented.
When a child’s behaviour requires correction, either for the safety and welfare of themselves or the group, it is important that:
5.43 In general – excluding circumstances such as immediate physical danger or medical emergency – physical contact should be initiated by the child or occur with their permission. When you make physical contact with a child, be very careful that you respect the child’s feelings and privacy.
5.44 Ensure that any physical contact you have with children is of a non-sexual nature and appropriate to the situation. Avoid any physical contact that is sexually stimulating, or that may be construed as sexually stimulating. Children may or may not be aware of creating such situations. It is your responsibility to be alert for such situations and to cease any inappropriate physical contact immediately.
You need to be very careful when making physical contact with children.
Appropriate contact includes:
Inappropriate contact includes:
5.45 If you have overall responsibility in a Church body, you should ensure there is a policy for clergy and church workers which deals with the use of technology to communicate with children in pastoral ministry.
5.46 When considering using technology for communication, you should apply the same principles as you would in any other form of communication with children. You should take care that:
Clergy, church workers and other participants in church activities – including children – often communicate using texting and picture messaging, email, instant messenger services and chat rooms, video conferencing, blogs and internet forums, websites, and group social networking sites.
Remember information posted online is tracked and can be retrieved. Dangers associated with the use of communication technology with children are not always appreciated by clergy and church workers. These dangers include:
Clergy and church workers can assist children to stay safe when using technology to communicate with others by:
5.47 If you have overall authority in a church body, you should ensure that there is a policy requiring clergy and church workers to obtain the permission of relevant parents and guardians before making or using images (including photographs and videos) of children who are engaged in children’s activities. The form of permission should clearly indicate the intended use of the images.
5.48 If you have overall authority in a church body, you should ensure that any Church screening documents:
5.49 If you have overall authority in a church body, you should:
5.50 If you are exercising a pastoral ministry involving children in a church body, you should keep a register of attendance of the children for whom you are responsible.
Professional Standards Unit - Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney
© 2019 Professional Standards Unit
Anglican Diocese of Sydney