Child Protection Policy

  1. Introduction
    Trinity Presbyterian Church North Bay, hereafter TPC, a congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, seeks to provide a safe and secure environment for the children who participate in its programs and activities. By adopting this policy, the goal is to protect the children of TPC from incidents of misconduct or inappropriate behavior while also protecting TPC staff and volunteer workers from false accusations. Any questions about this policy should be addressed to the Session.
  2. Definitions
    1. For the purposes this policy:
      1. The terms “child” or “children” is anyone under the age of 18.
      2. A “youth event” or “children’s ministry” is any program or event sponsored and publicized by the church, whether on TPC premises, at the home of a church officer or member, or at another location, including any transportation to and from such an event.
      3. A “church officer” is a pastor, elder, deacon of the church.
      4. A “youth worker” is any person approved by the Session to be engaged in leading or assisting in the children’s ministry in the church, including but not limited to, Sunday School teachers and assistants, nursery care attendants, Vacation Bible School staff, chaperones, and transportation providers.
    2. Child abuse is any action or negligence that endangers or harms a child including the following:
      1. Physical abuse is any physical injury to a child that is not accidental, such as beating, shaking, burns, and biting.  This definition does not apply to lawful physical discipline carried out by a child’s parent or legal guardian.
      2. Sexual abuse is any sexual activity between a child and an adult or between a child and another child, including such activities as fondling, exhibitionism, intercourse, incest, pornography, or any conduct constituting sexual abuse under California law.
      3. Emotional abuse is an act toward a child that causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the child’s psychological, social, spiritual, or moral development.
      4. Neglect is depriving a child of his or her essential needs, such as adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care.
  3. Screening and Requirements for Youth Workers
    1. Requirements for Youth Workers
      1. They must be communicant members in good standing of TPC or of another church of like faith and practice as determined by the Session.
      2. They must be approved by the Session.
      3. Anyone who has been previously convicted of child abuse or other violent crimes will not be eligible for service as a youth worker.
      4. They must agree to abide by the terms of this policy and record of their agreement must be maintained by the Session.
    2. Screening
      1. The church requires screening for all youth workers. 
      2. This screening shall include a background check conducted by a professional agency, paid for by the church.
      3. Screening will be repeated at least every three years.
      4. Records of this screening will be maintained by the Session.
  4. Guidelines for Supervision of Children
    1. A child shall not be alone with one adult during any youth event or children’s ministry, except in the case where the adult is the child’s parent or guardian.
    2. The door into a room shall never be locked where there are children in the room.
    3. Classes offered for youth events or children’s ministry may have only one youth worker as a teacher, but there should be high visibility into the classroom at all times and the ability for random inspection by another youth worker or a student’s parent or guardian at any time.  If any class session, due to attendance, would result in only a single child and single youth worker being present, then that class session shall be cancelled.
    4. Youth workers should not take a child to the bathroom alone.  Elementary children should be sent to the bathroom in groups.  If a child is potty training, a youth worker should ensure the bathroom is safe before allowing such a small child to enter alone.  If the child needs assistance, involve the child’s parent or guardian, or an additional youth worker.  Whenever assisting, youth workers should respect the privacy of the child as much as possible.
    5. Any nursery facilities provided by TPC are for the sole use of the parents or guardians to care for their young children and are not to be staffed by youth workers on behalf of the church.  Other individuals should not congregate in any areas designated for nursery.
    6. Youth workers shall not administer corporal punishment in any children ministries of the church.  Youth workers should refer children to their own parents or guardians if assistance is needed with any disciplinary issue.
    7. Youth workers shall not administer medication to any children.  Medications must be administered only by a child’s parent(s) or guardian.
    8. In the event a child is injured while participating in a youth event or children’s ministry, they should be referred for treatment to their parents or guardians if they are immediately available.  Otherwise, for minor injuries, scrapes, and bruises, youth workers will provide external first aid only (e.g. adhesive bandages, etc.), and will subsequently notify the child’s parent(s) or guardian of the injury and related circumstances.  For serious injuries requiring medical treatment beyond simple external first aid, the child’s parent(s) or guardian will be immediately informed, transportation to a nearby outpatient facility will be provided if necessary, and if warranted by circumstances an ambulance will be called.
  5. Policy Violations
    1. If, in an emergency, a youth worker deems it necessary to deviate from this policy, then they should promptly notify the Session and the reason it was necessary.
    2. If anyone observes a deviation from this policy, they are encouraged to seek to remedy the situation and also to report the deviation to Session, even if there is no suspicion of abuse.
    3. The Session will maintain records of any reported policy violations.
  6. Reports of Abuse
    1. In an emergency, where a child’s safety is threatened, call 911.
    2. In a non-emergency, to directly report a concern to the civil authorities, call the Sonoma County Child Protection Hotline at (707) 565-4304.
    3. For the honor of Christ and the protection of the weak, the Session requests everyone to make a report to the Session if they witness abuse, receive a report of abuse, or reasonably suspect abuse.
    4. Reports to the Session shall ordinarily be directed to the moderator of the Session who will then convene the Session and deliver the report.
    5. The Session shall investigate and respond to all reports of abuse, observing the following principles:
      1. Since child abuse is not only a sin, but also a serious crime, it is proper to report child abuse to state authorities who are ordained by God for punishing wickedness (Romans 13:1-5).  All mandatory reporting of abuse required by state law shall be followed.
      2. All reports of child abuse should be taken seriously, and the utmost concern should always be shown for the safety of the alleged victim(s).
      3. Reports should be handled with discretion and due process, without assuming the guilt of the accused.  However, anyone accused of child abuse will immediately be removed from caring for children while the report is being investigated.
      4. Since reports of child abuse often raise sensitive and complex matters, it is proper to enlist assistance from an attorney or other professional.
      5. In the interests of clarity, discretion, and consistency, it is proper to appoint a spokesperson to communicate with the alleged victim(s), the accused, and their families, the church, and the media.
  7. Training and Dissemination
    1. The Session will ensure that youth workers and church officers regularly review this policy.
    2. A copy of this policy will be published on the TPC website and a printed copy made available to any parishioner upon request.