Jesus said “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belong to such as these.” (Matthew 19.14). We encourage children to be present at both Sunday meetings and midweek. If you have a young child, please be assured that we far prefer you and your child to be present at meetings, with the noise that your child will inevitably make, than for you to stay away. If your child wants to “let rip” we have a creche to which you can take him or her. The sound of the service is relayed to the creche, so you do not miss out. Children are encouraged to take a full part in the life of the church. We welcome suggestions for songs from children during open times of thanksgiving, and children sometimes spontaneously pray out loud.
We have a Sunday school for children of primary school age which starts half way through the Sunday morning service. Children stay in the service for the first half, and then go out for their lessons while the adults stay for the sermon. Children do not have to go out if they or their parents prefer them to stay in the service.
For further information, contact us.
Child Protection Policy As adopted by the church on 26th September 2006
Poplar Baptist Church is committed to protecting young people and children from harm and acting in the best interests of their welfare.
Every youth and children’s worker (|both paid and voluntary) has a legal responsibility to identify and act upon concerns for the safety and well being of young people. This policy gives guidance on good practice to avoid young people or children coming to harm, and details the steps you must follow if you are concerned about a young person’s safety. If in doubt about anything, you should speak to Ed Ball, who is the child protection co-ordinator for the church. If he is unavailable, or if an allegation has been made against him, the deputy child protection co-ordinator Grace Evans, should be contacted. This policy is intended as a guide to good practice in child protection and promoting the welfare of young people at Poplar Baptist Church in all its activities and meetings. This policy is based on the guidance issued under The Children Act 1989, “Safe from Harm – A code of practice for safeguarding the welfare of children in voluntary organisations in England and Wales”, 1993, and “Working Together to Safeguard Children”, 1999. It includes sections on:
Creating a Safe Environment
How to Deal with Disclosure or Discovery of Abuse
Staff and Volunteer Appointment
Staff and Volunteer Training
Criminal Record Checks
Appointment of Ex-offenders to youth work
Allegations against staff, volunteers or persons attending the church
Ex-offenders in the church
“Elders” are those officers of the church who have the responsibility for caring for and teaching members of the church. “Pastoral assistants” are those who have been appointed by the church to assist the elders in their pastoral work. “Youth and children’s workers” are those who have specific responsibilities for helping with young people’s and children’s work within the church, for example with clubs run by the church or Sunday school. A “young person” for the purposes of this document is someone under 16 years of age. A “child” for the purposes of this document is someone under the age of 16.
Creating a safe environment
Poplar Baptist Church aims to minimise situations where it is possible for adults to abuse children or where it is possible for children to make false accusations against adults. It expects all its youth and children’s workers (paid and voluntary) to plan their work accordingly. Work one to one, only when you have to and only in sight of others. Elders, pastoral assistants, youth and children’s workers should only work alone with one young person when it is absolutely necessary and where another adult can easily observe what is going on. Avoid situations which could put a child at risk, or could expose you to malicious allegations. Avoid, for example,
Giving a young person a lift home on your own
Inviting a young person into the church building or your home when you are alone
Making home visits on your own
Being alone with a young person in a part of the church building where no-one else can see you.If you need to talk to a young person in private, try to do it in the corner of a large room where other people can see you, or in a room with an open door or window through which other people can see you, or outside in the view of others.
Avoid working with a group of young people on your own
Even working with a group of young people on your own presents risks and should be avoided where possible. There should be at least two adult leaders in each children’s group, and workers should carefully weigh up the risks before deciding to work alone with a group out of the sight of another adult. Nobody will be required to do this.
Avoid sending personal letters or emails
In order to protect workers from false allegations, those working with young people should avoid sending personal letters or emails to the young people with whom they are working, and should never send personal text messages to them, or messages using other internet media like Myspace, Messenger, or chat rooms. If you consider it is necessary to send a personal letter or email, be very careful to avoid saying anything which could be misinterpreted. Wherever possible a letter or email to a young person should be sent to his or her parent or carer with a request that they read it and pass it on to the young person if they are happy for them to have it. In common with good practice in state schools, copies of all personal letters and emails from those working with young people to the young people with whom they are working should also be given to the child protection co-ordinator to be filed.
Be very careful about physical contact with young people Workers must never use any form of physical punishment (e.g. hitting or even rigorous handling or holding). If you have to physically restrain a young person to protect someone else or yourself, make it clear to the young person what you are doing and why. Avoid initiating hugs, hand-holding etc. with young people over the age of 5. If you need to comfort a child make sure you do it in the context of a group, not in private. Avoid doing anything that could be misinterpreted. Be especially careful about physical contact with teenagers who may develop crushes or infatuations with adults. Do not encourage these and think carefully about how physical contact can be interpreted. Youth Workers are in a position of trust and it is therefore unacceptable for them to engage in any behaviour which might allow a sexual relationship to develop whilst the relationship of trust continues. Do not give sweets or other gifts to children, except when this is done as an activity of a club. If you wish to give presents to children for birthdays or Christmas, give them to parents to give to their children.
Arrangements for residential activities/camps etc
It is good practice for the team of adults to reflect the gender of the young people being supervised all the time, but it is essential on residential activities. Sleeping accommodation must be single sex, and adults should only enter dormitories or tents which are occupied by members of the opposite sex if they are chaperoned by another adult of the sex of those occupying the dormitory or tent. Consider sleeping arrangements carefully. Always arrange things so as to minimise risk to children, from themselves, other children, and intruders, and also risk of false or malicious allegations against leaders or abuse by leaders. Wherever possible, put two adult leaders from different families, of the same sex as the children, in each tent or dormitory.
Let young people know that elders, pastoral assistants and Youth Workers have a child protection responsibility and are available to help them if they have concerns about the way other adults treat them. Be observant to changes in young people’s behaviour and discuss this with other team members. Certain activities may trigger current or past abuse experiences (talking about relationships, role plays etc.) Abuse may also happen between young people; you still need to follow the child protection procedure for this.
Health and safety
Take care to avoid accidental harm being done to children during Club activities. Craft or cooking work that involves the use of knives, glue or heat especially needs to be carefully planned and supervised.
Wherever possible, children who are taken out to the crèche should be supervised by their own parents or siblings aged 12 or over. If this is not possible, two adults from different families should supervise the children. In a situation where supervision is carried out by a sibling from one family and an adult from another family, at least one other adult from a different family should also be present. The Hall At the end of Sunday School children are to be escorted back from the hall by the Sunday School teachers. Children will not be allowed to play unsupervised in the Hall. The Kitchen Children under the age of 12 will not to be allowed to be in the kitchen without adult supervision. Parental responsibility Except when there are specific activities for children, such as Sunday School, Scripture College, and Clubs, or when a specific arrangement has been made for another adult to bring a child to church, parents are responsible for the welfare and safety of their own children while they are at church. Parents should ensure that while they are at church they know where their children are, that they are safe, and that their behaviour is under control. Off-site activites If there is an off-site activity, for example a trip to Leicester Square, young people under the age of 16 will not be taken unless a parent or carer has given written permission for them to go, has given details of any medical problems, and has given a contact phone number. There must also be an adult who will take responsibility for their safety while they are out and will also accompany them home.
At all Sunday services and midweek meetings held at the church building where young children are present and the doors are open wherever possible there will be a trained door steward who will seek to keep children inside the building and to keep them from running into the road.
How to deal with disclosure or discovery of abuse
The church’s understanding of abuse is that it is when a young person (under the age of 16) is mistreated by another adult or young person in one or more of the following ways:
Physically, through persistent bullying by another child, or through being struck or deliberately injured by an adult, apart from appropriate discipline of a child by his or her own parents.
Through neglect, by being deprived of basic needs of food, clothing, housing or medical care.
Emotionally, through sustained verbal abuse and / or unfair or degrading treatment.
Sexually, through being touched inappropriately, being exposed to pornography or being made the subject of pornography, or being used for the sexual gratification of another.If a young person makes a disclosure about emotional or physical abuse or neglect or sexual abuse you MUST report this to the designated child protection officer. Remember that conversations with young people, especially about sensitive matters like abuse, should preferably be conducted in the presence of a second adult, and should never be conducted out of the sight of other adults. Here are some things to do if there is a disclosure of abuse: 1. Don’t offer complete confidentiality There are legal requirements regarding the protection of young people which do not allow youth workers to offer them total confidentiality. Be clear about this with young people, especially if they ask you if they can tell you something in secret. 2. Listen Listen to what the young person has got to say. Reassure him or her that he or she did the right thing to tell you, and that you are taking what he or she says very seriously. Ask open-ended questions but do not quiz them, do not ask leading questions and do not physically examine them. Never stop a child who is freely recalling significant events. If abuse has taken place, the young person will need a lot reassurance and support, and you need to be ready to give this. 3. Explain If a young person has disclosed to you that they are being harmed, be sure to explain to them what you must do with the information they have told you. If you have to report the issue to someone else, offer to do it together with the young person as this tends to maintain more confidence between you. At any rate tell them you will let them know what happens. 4. Record Within an hour if possible, make a written record of what has been said or noticed, and sign and date it. Make sure it is clear and factual, and try to write down exactly what you and the young person said. Make a note of the time when it happened, the setting, who was there and what happened immediately beforehand. Keep this report locked somewhere safe, or give it to the child protection co-ordinator. All disclosures of abuse by young people or children should be written up and stored in this way. 5. Report Report the discovery or disclosure to the child protection co-ordinator as soon as possible. Say nothing to the young person’s parents or alleged abuser (even if it is someone you know well) which might compromise the young person’s safety or an investigation by police or social services. Report abuse that has been disclosed even if it was in the past and the victim says it has stopped. Report any abuse that you think may fall within the definition given above, even if the abuse is alleged to have been carried out by someone who has no connection with the church. Make a record of all the contacts made in following this procedure and keep them with your initial report. Continue to keep records of the young person (their well-being and relationships) even after any referral has been made. These records are not open to the young person. 6. Support These situations are complex and difficult to handle, and may cause extreme distress for the adults involved. Youth & children’s workers should seek support and guidance from their leaders (including the elders), especially where they are involved in an investigation. If a member of your team is involved in a situation like this, please try to offer them support. Immediate Emergencies Where a young person requires urgent first aid or medical treatment, this takes priority over procedures for reporting child protection concerns. If you think there is an immediate danger to the young person, make contact immediately with the child protection co-ordinator or the deputy child protection co-ordinator, or if they are not available, an elder or deacon of the church, who if necessary will contact the Police. If you cannot contact any of these you should call the Police yourself. NB
If you are not sure what to do, speak to the child protection co-ordinator, do not leave it and hope the situation will go away.
Even if the concern seems very minor, it is far better to take action and feel reassured than to end up as part of an enquiry into the death or serious injury of a young person.Staff and Volunteer Appointment Prospective youth and children’s workers, elders and pastoral assistants will be asked to fill in and sign an application form giving two references and a declaration of previous criminal convictions. Appointments to all positions which involve work with children or young people will be subject to an interview (with the leader of the group they wish to work with and an elder or someone designated by them), two satisfactory references, a criminal record check (“Disclosure”), (unless this is not available, for example for someone under the age of 16), the express agreement of the elders, and a probation period of 6 months where appropriate. Volunteers under the age of 18 will also need to have written support from their parents.
Staff and Volunteer Training
All youth and children’s workers will receive introductory training in child protection, as part of their induction to their work at Poplar Baptist Church. They will also receive a copy of the relevant parts of this policy..
Criminal Record Checks (Disclosure)
We will only seek Disclosure from the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) after applicants have been interviewed and offered a provisional position. Disclosure will be re-applied for every 3 years. The church will make every effort to comply fully with the CRB code of practice in relation to the handling of Disclosures. In particular:
Information gained through Disclosure will only be seen by those who need to have access to it in the course of their duties (for example, the leader in charge of youth work, the child protection co-ordinator and the elders). A record will be kept of who has seen it.
Disclosures will be stored securely in a locked place. Only the people mentioned above will have access to them.We will accept a Disclosure or other police check form if the applicant already has one, provided it is less than 3 years since it was issued and the organisation that requested it confirms to Poplar Baptist Church that they did request it. Appointment of Ex-offenders The application form to work with children or young people will make it clear to applicants that the post requires the disclosure of all criminal record information, but that the church is willing to consider ex-offenders for this work. Having a criminal record will not be used as a reason, in and of itself, to prevent someone from working with children. Each applicant will be judged on merit. With regard to certain specific areas, our policy is as follows:
Applicants will not be accepted if they have previous offences against children.
Applicants with any offence involving possession, supply or use of drugs where the conviction took place within the five years prior to the individual’s application will not be accepted.
Applicants with any offence involving dangerous, drunk or careless driving, where the conviction took place within the five years prior to the individual’s application, will not be allowed to drive with young people in their vehicle.Other offences and issues will be considered on an individual basis by the church leaders, in discussion with specific youth leaders where appropriate. We will consider the following points;
the relevance of the conviction to the position
the seriousness of the offence
the length of time since the offence occurred
whether there is a pattern of offending behaviour
whether the applicant’s circumstances have changed since the offence
the circumstances surrounding the offence and the explanation(s) offered by the convicted person.Applicants with a criminal record will be given the opportunity to discuss Disclosure information before a final decision about appointment is made, except where the information is confidential material which we are not permitted to mention. Applicants are entitled to appeal to the CRB if they think the information given is inaccurate. Similarly, a current volunteer or staff member who is found to have a criminal record through Disclosure will not be stopped from working with children as a matter of course. A decision will be made after a thorough appraisal of the situation, including the issues listed above and taking account of the individual’s track record of youth work at the church. Allegations against staff, volunteers, or others attending the church Poplar Baptist Church will take seriously any allegation of abuse by staff or volunteers, or those attending the church, from whatever source (young person, parent, other staff, member of public). The allegation must be reported to the church’s child protection co-ordinator immediately. If the allegation is against the child protection co-ordinator, it should be reported to the deputy child-protection co-ordinator. Initial enquiries will be made by the child protection co-ordinator or the deputy child protection co-ordinator to seek to determine the seriousness of the allegation that has been made. No attempt will be made at this point to interview witnesses or the alleged culprit. If the child protection co-ordinator determines that the allegation is of serious or criminal activity, the matter will be referred to the Social Services and / or Police. Examples of allegations which will be referred include: allegations of sexual abuse, allegations of serious physical abuse, such as assault resulting in physical injury, and allegations of severe and sustained emotional abuse or neglect. In cases which have been referred to the Social Services or Police, the alleged culprit and witnesses will be approached about the matter only after the Police and Social Services have concluded their investigations. If the child protection co-ordinator judges that the allegation is not serious enough to be forwarded to the Police or Social Services, he or she will in these instances conduct his or her own investigation. He or she will in these instances seek to ascertain what is alleged to have happened, what any witnesses have to say, and will ask the alleged culprit for his or her version of events. Following the investigation by the child protection co-ordinator, a number of outcomes are possible, depending on what is discovered:
No action, because the allegation is shown to be without foundation
If it is established that there has been inappropriate behaviour, the matter will be referred to the elders for them to speak with the individual who has behaved inappropriately, and if necessary take further action.
If there has been inappropriate behaviour and the person works with children in the church, the person may be suspended or permanently barred from working with children. If the person is not currently working with children, a note may be made that it would not be appropriate for him or her to do so in future.If it is found, upon investigation, that the matter was more serious than was originally thought, involving allegations which need to be referred to Social Services or Police, it will be referred to one or both of those agencies.
Ex-offenders in the church
The church consists of sinful people who have been forgiven and changed by God’s kindness, and it is therefore quite possible that some members of the church may have previously committed offences with children. It is also possible that a believer might fall into committing such offences after his conversion to Christ, and then turn and be restored. With such individuals our policy is to do all we can to help them to acknowledge and understand the wrongness of their previous offences, and to know God’s forgiveness and healing, in just the same way as we seek to help those who have previously done wrong in other areas. At the same time we need to have safeguards to limit the risk of any further offences taking place, on or off church premises, with children who come to the church. These safeguards will also help to protect the individual concerned from malicious and false allegations. They may also help to allay fears of relevant authorities about the individual coming to the church, and enable him or her to have a fuller involvement with the church than might otherwise be possible. These rules apply to all those previously convicted of offences with children, however serious or minor those offences might be. They do not imply a lack of love or forgiveness for any particular individual. Those who are known to have been previously convicted of offences involving children shall be required to do the following: 1. Not work with children in Sunday School or other children’s activities run at the church, or from the church. 2. Never be in any room of the church where there is a child present, unless there is at least one other adult present. 3. Never give a lift to a child in a vehicle. 4. Never to have any physical contact with a child except his or her own children, and only then with the agreement of the relevant authorities. 5. Not to use the communal toilet near the kitchen, but only to use the single toilets near the street entrance to the meeting room. 6. Not to accept hospitality in the homes of those who come to the church where there are young people under the age 16, nor have contact with a young person who is known from the church, except his or her own children by agreement with the relevant authorities. 7. To report any breach of these rules, including those due to accident or forgetfulness, to the Child Protection Co-ordinator immediately. If an ex-offender refuses to keep to these rules, or persistently breaks them, he or she will be told not to come to meetings of the church any more.
Changes to this policy
This Policy was adopted at a church meeting on 26th September 2006, to come into effect immediately. The Policy may be changed by a majority vote at a Church Meeting that has been duly convened according to the Constitution of Poplar Baptist Church.