The “Whys” of Child Protection

by Nicholas J. Kersten

Director of Education and History

In the December issue of the Recorder, I suggested that it was a good and necessary thing for local member churches of our General Conference to implement child protection policies to guide and direct their ministry to our youngest participants. That column introduced a broad topic, and in response, individuals from local churches began contacting us for more information. We are glad for those contacts and hope they continue! But we realize that some may not yet be persuaded that such a policy is necessary. There are many reasons why child protection policies are a necessary part of the life and ministry of our churches today. I would like to briefly lay out four.

The first reason to adopt, implement, and review a child protection policy is common sense. Who doesn’t want the children in their church to be protected from those who would harm them? Does anyone want the church to be used as an access point where predators can harm kids? A child protection policy helps your church to be clear about your commitment to protecting kids, and to give clear “to-do” steps to make sure you are doing what you can to protect them.

The second reason to have a child protection policy is because the Bible says we need to protect our children. When the General Conference passed our Child Protection Resolution two years ago, we noted that Jesus warned about causing “little ones” to stumble or sin (Matthew 18:5-6). While our kids don’t sin if someone abuses them — they didn’t do anything wrong — the brokenness abuse can cause can lead to difficulties down the road for those survivors. Furthermore, our kids are entrusted to us by God and are made in His image. While they grow, God asks both parents and His people to guard them and protect them as they raise them up in the ways of the Lord. A child protection policy insures we are clear about our Biblical responsibilities to our kids.

The third reason to have a child protection policy is because it is a good way to honor and obey the civic authorities. Though we own no king but Jesus Christ, we are subject to legal authorities. The legal authorities of our nations (USA & Canada) have indicated, both through the courts and through legislation, that we have a legal responsibility to protect our children when they are with us. We have a responsibility to God to honor these authorities. If we do not, we stand to come under punishment from the legal authorities and the courts. A child protection policy demonstrates our submission to the legal authorities and is a means of protecting our churches from adverse legal action in this respect.

The fourth and final reason to have a child protection policy is because it aids our witness to Jesus Christ. In our cultural conditions, a failure to protect our kids subjects the name of Jesus Christ to scorn and derision. Furthermore, it communicates either a lack of diligence or a lack of care about a prevalent and damaging social issue, and may even communicate that we do not

believe Jesus cares about those who are victims of abuse. In addition, it signals to new families who visit our churches that we do not care about them or their children. Furthermore, a child protection policy provides safety for recovering abusers who are trying to reform their lives by providing clear boundaries. A child protection policy communicates to a watching world that we are committed to families, to the victims of abuse, and to those recovering from the sin of abuse.

Local churches are advised to immediately contact their insurance providers if they are looking to take first steps towards the creation of a child protection policy. The General Conference does not produce policies for local churches and does not protect or insure local churches in the event of an incident. If you have additional questions about creating a policy after contacting your insurance company, please contact us!

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