The Education Committee of the Belfast United Methodist Church adopted the following policy on September 1, 2002 in compliance with the New England Conference.
Recognizing that we are responsible for the youth of our church family, not only in spiritual growth and nurturing, but as complete members of our community, the Belfast United Methodist Church will, in all areas of Youth Ministries (i.e. Sunday School, Nursery, Youth Group, Christian Adventure Camp, Worship Service and any / all programs created in the future ), report any suspicion of child abuse, including but not limited to, physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, mental. The report can be verbal and will be followed by a written, dated report. The report may be directed to the leader, director, Superintendent,( or other person in the capacity of leadership). The following persons will be advised of the report and included in the process: The Chairperson(s) of Education, the Chairperson(s) of the Pastor Parish Committee, the Pastor.
Should a child be in immediate danger, we will report to local police department and the Department of Human Services.
We will at all times be aware of the safety, dignity and well being of the child and will not act in an accusatory manner toward any persons who may be involved.
We will take all precautions to ensure that all individuals are safe while participating in Church Programs. We will advise all staff to always have two or more adults in a room at any time there is a child/youth in the room. We will, to the best of our ability, staff our programs to ensure that happens. If at any time there are not two or more adults available, the door(s) to the room will be open. This does not apply to the bathroom, but we do encourage staff to be present outside the door and not in the bathroom with a child if at all possible.
The Director, Leader, and/or Superintendent will make random and unannounced visits to any gathering of children and adults (Sunday School classrooms, the Nursery, etc.).
While maintaining order in group settings is advisable, we will not use physical discipline (striking, restraining, etc.), threats, intimidation or humiliation. If at any time a behavioral problem arises, the Leader, Director, and/or Superintendent will be advised and will take steps to discuss the problem with both parties to seek a solution. Parental involvement is invited at any/all levels of the process.
In the event that an accusation of abuse be made against a Belfast United Methodist Church staff member, whether volunteer or paid, we will take immediate action to determine the validity of the accusation and will take the matter to all levels necessary, Church, Conference, Legal.
Recognizing that we are all children of God, we will provide a safe, respectful environment for our staff (teachers, leaders, directors). We do not accept behavior that is disrespectful or out of control. We do not allow swearing, hitting or threats. In the event that such behavior is exhibited, a report will be made to the Superintendent, and/or the Chairperson(s) of Education, and/or the Chairperson(s) of the Pastor Parish Committee and/or the Pastor. Following that report, a meeting will be scheduled with the parent/guardian/responsible adult to deal with the situation. A written letter of apology must be submitted to the staff member involved in the incident before the student/participant be allowed to return to the group. Should further action be required, it will be at the discretion of the Education Committee, Pastor Parish Committee and/or the Pastor.