At My Church, I Can’t Even Be Alone in a HALLWAY with a Child,

Readers — Have you heard of this program? Is there  a way to counter its draconian decrees?

Dear Free-Range Kids: I have been a volunteer for many years at my church, but now we have a new pastor, and he brought with him this child care worker training program called “MinistrySafe.” While it is just a set of online videos, and the church is paying for it, it is filled with nonsense statistics about stranger danger.

All this seems like the “stranger danger” nonsense that my own generation had to grow up with.  It’s no wonder Gen-X is so distrusting of other people, that is what we were taught!  It took me many years to get over that damaging influence, and here we are doing it all over again to another innocent generation.  I’ve been serving for years, but this program has already resulted in changes in policy that I find offensive.  As a male, I can no longer be in the *hallway* with a child alone; much less escort a gaggle of 4 year old boys to the restrooms.  As long as I have been doing this, suddenly I, and every other male volunteer, is a potential sexual predator.  And this all smells like a sham of a company selling fear to churches.

Do you know anything about this group? – Volunteering While Male

While I don’t know of that group per se, I do hear from church volunteers who are fed up with this presumption of guilt that nothing can counter. The idea of not even being allowed to be alone in a HALLWAY with a kid strikes me as one of the most bizarre and sick things I’ve ever heard. So not only is every adult a predator, but every area of every building where kids are present is presumed to be the site of a crime scene, unless drastic measures are taken.

Anyone else dealing with this program?

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Men allowed...but distrusted.

Men allowed…but distrusted.

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59 Responses to At My Church, I Can’t Even Be Alone in a HALLWAY with a Child,

  1. diane September 28, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    Our church’s safe haven policy has the same guidelines for men and women. Does this program treat men differently, or is it this church’s interpretation and implementation?

    Regardless, a hallway is considered a public area, in which an adult is easily observed by others, and so one can be alone with a child or group of children there.

  2. June September 28, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    The last time I volunteered in the church toddler room, one of the little boys needed to go to the restroom. I asked the other volunteer, who was a man, if he could take him. He told me the male volunteers weren’t allowed to take any of the children to the restroom. Here’s the kicker – I don’t have any children and this man is a FATHER and a PEDIATRICIAN. He literally cares for children as his profession. Ridiculous.

  3. K2 September 28, 2016 at 11:09 am #

    While men might not like it, men are a higher risk than women. For the most part it is men that fill up the jails. Men are more likely to do things they shouldn’t in a general sense.

  4. Jess September 28, 2016 at 11:21 am #

    @K2, cited statistics please. By your logic, we should keep black and Hispanic men especially away from kids, since they make a greater percentage of the prison population than they do the general population. Maybe, all of this is really just indicative of our own internal biases and should be used as a jumping-off point to create policies and procedures that really do protect and empower children, instead of us recreating our childhood boogeymen and implementing security theater that harms.

  5. Roger the Shrubber September 28, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    These ‘training’ programs stress that ‘anyone’ could be a pedophile and that to protect children you should assume that ‘everyone’ is a pedophile.

  6. HW September 28, 2016 at 11:35 am #

    There were so many decades during which churches were considered (blindly) by many people to be “safe” in all circumstances. Churches would cover up for abusers and assume children were lying. This current situation is certainly an over-correction– people have gone from believing that no predators could exist in churches, to believing that everyone walking in the door is a predator. It’s just a pendulum swing and I wouldn’t spend too much energy worrying about it. Give it another 10 years and hopefully we will settle in a reasonable place, where people are generally trusted, but when something worrisome happens, it will be investigated and solved.

  7. Workshop September 28, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    For a while, our church didn’t really check the name tags of the parents who picked up their kids. When a new volunteer arrived, that person would check the tags to make sure they matched. The next week, no check, just grab the kids. There was one time when the same volunteer, two weeks in a row, checked the parent tag vs. my son’s tag. There was a polite conversation about how that wasn’t going to happen again, and it hasn’t. (The part where I said “if you want to keep him, that’s fine. He likes cold hot dogs and popcorn” might have been overkill.)

    I do not know anything about the program in question, but if our church started doing it, I’d have a conversation with the pastor. That conversation would be polite, and include the phrase “if you decide to assume I am a pedophile we will leave and go to another church.”

    Ministers are people too, and subject to the same fears and misinformation as the rest of us. If they can grow beyond those fears, that’s good. If they cannot, I will not be a party to enabling poor behavior. God gave us brains so that we could use them.

    Finally, K2, you are wrong that men are a higher risk than women. Men do tend to commit more violent crimes, true. But when it comes to the behaviors we’re discussing here, that disparity disappears.

  8. Sarah Fiske Williams September 28, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

    I’ve been teaching Religious Ed at a Unitarian Universalist church for many years, and we’ve always had the policy of essentially “no solo adults with any number of kids”, but not because of our church’s attitudes. It’s handed to us from the state laws for childcare programs. We do our best to comply, so as not to jeapardize our program (it’s extremely popular – people join the church for the kids’ programs – particularly our sex ed, because we know that abstinence is not a realistic goal!), but all of the parents are low-key and trusting of the people who are guiding their kids. Not to mention the trust of their kids to speak up if something feels off.

  9. Laura September 28, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

    I never heard of that. A friend who is Methodist told me her church is doing a major rehab job to keep the children safe with glass instead of walls.

  10. Robert Monroe, Jr. September 28, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

    @K2, I’m an African-American with an African-American wife and 13-year old twins (girl & boy). My wife is hesitant about our son being alone with Euro=American female teachers because so many of them seem to have a predilection for sexually abusing African-American boys…especially ones like our son who are tall and muscular. Should we play it safe and tell our son’s school to remove him from his social studies & algebra classes because they are taught by Euro-American women? While Euro-American women teachers might not like it, they are a higher risk to sexually abuse teen boys than Euro-American men. For the most part it is Euro-American women who are arrested for this behavior but, unfortunately, not put in jail because of it. Euro-American female teachers are more likely to do things they shouldn’t in a general sense.

  11. John B. September 28, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    I currently attend a Southern Baptist Church and within our sanctuary building there is a series of classrooms where we hold pre and post church bible studies. This includes children’s bible study also. It’s like a maze of hallways and one Sunday as I was trying to find my way out of the back part of the building, I somehow ventured into the children’s area when I received a stiff reprimand from one of the mothers informing me that unless I had a child in one of the classrooms I was not allowed in that area. Sure enough, there was a sign on the door of the children’s section that read:

    “To better protect our little ones, please do not use these doors on Sunday morning.”

    Goodness, protect them from what? It’s a bustling area with kids and adults in the classrooms and running around in the hallways. How in the world could I ever sneak a kid out of that area without anybody noticing? Could I somehow stick a kid in my pocket or down my shirt? How in the world could I ever sexually assault a kid in that area without anybody noticing? Of all the child molestation cases I’ve read and heard about, I have never heard of anybody sexually assaulting a child in an open area where everybody could see them. It was always done in private. I’m certain that somebody would have stopped me had I even attempted anything that stupid and perverted.

    Now had I been a single childless female, it’s a safe bet to assume this mother would not have said anything to me about being in that area.

    First-worst thinking at its finest so now you have a “one-step ahead” person making up rules meant to protect children from something that is least likely to happen.

  12. Lisa September 28, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

    Our church uses the program, but just in the sense that all volunteers have to watch the videos and take the quiz at the end. It hasn’t, so far as I can tell, changed any of our policies.

  13. K2 September 28, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

    Not politically correct, but the only black family that we have ever been friends with recently had the father go to jail for sexually assaulting a teen. Not suggesting treating them differently than white men, just saying men are most of the risk. Sorry guys.

  14. Shelly Stow September 28, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    Lord help us — literally. If Christ were here today and took the little children upon His lap, they’s have Him in handcuffs and charged with pedophilia before Peter could have drawn his sword.

  15. Hank September 28, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    I can tell you that the BSA Youth Protection rules state that there is never to be one-on-one contact, and there must ALWAYS be two adults present, or the people meeting must be publicly visible.

  16. Shelly Stow September 28, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

    * they’d have Him…

  17. Linda September 28, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    Sarah, I’m also in a Unitarian. I used to volunteer teaching RE. The rule has always been two adults teaching each class, and it occurs in an open room. Then, after several years, they asked me to submit background check forms.

    I said that they are more than welcome to check my background, as they have all my information. But I am not going to participate in it. Sadly, I haven’t volunteered since.

  18. Lavues September 28, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

    Such an interesting post to read, thanks for sharing with us.

  19. Shelly Stow September 28, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

    To K2 and others commenting on this aspect of the topic: I think the percentage of males on a sex offender registry as opposed to females is 97%. This will include female teachers who have been charged with molestation of their high school students even if they were given no prison time. And as far as that being an epidemic, it is an epidemic the same way that a stranger taking and killing a child became an “epidemic” some years back. Every time it happens, it is broadcast, especially in the area where it occurs, virtually 24/7, on and in every media outlet possible, day after day after day. We are so inundated with it that we cannot help but feel that it is constantly happening. It isn’t.

    This presumption that every adult, especially every adult male, is an imminent and realistic threat to children must somehow be stopped. For some kids, the Sunday School teacher or the elementary teacher — and those of the male variety are an endangered species — is the only positive male role model they have. Lenore is fighting the battle, but she must have support and push-back on a broad scale. For venues using these outrageous guidelines, demand — nicely — that evidence be produced showing a need. Where are the statistics showing that children are abused in public settings such as Sunday School and church settings? Ask that they be produced; they cannot be. We must reclaim common sense and insist on research-based policies for the sake of our children.

  20. Curious September 28, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

    Guilty until proven innocent?

  21. lollipoplover September 28, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    @K2-

    So if men are such a higher risk than women, should the disciples have prevented big J from ever being alone with a child?

    “People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’ . . . And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10 verses 13–14, 16).

  22. Tony Burns September 28, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    When I started thinking what I might do in retirement I came across an article about mature men helping in kindergarten classrooms. I cut the article out and pinned it to the wall in my home office. That article inspired me for years. By the time I retired the obstacles to entry for that volunteer position was so high I abandoned the idea. The entry level criteria to be present in a classroom setting was ridiculous.

  23. Thecajunhippiemama September 28, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

    I have served on youth staff before and also as a Sunday school teacher at my church and we do not have these rules. Only men can bring little boys to the boys bathroom and women for little girls. Someone else must know when they are going and the person bringing the child must remain at the door of the bathroom with it open and wait on the child while the child goes to the stall by themselves as to not have any cause for suspicion or room for accusations. The person waiting at the door is also not allowed to let anyone in the bathroom while the child is in there.

  24. Amy September 28, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    Shelly Stow,

    I agree on the sadness of their being less and less men working with children. I have two elementary aged children and my husband passed a couple years ago. I don’t have any family in the area.. My children’s school has not yet gone crazy and there are many male teachers there. I am grateful that my children have nurturing, caring, male role models in their life that aren’t provided by family. Those teachers are awesome and even have on occasion taken my children to sporting events in their off time. Bad things happen to kids sometimes. It’s sad, but we have to keep our heads and not treat a rarity like a common occurrence. When I was a kid I was molested. Not by a stranger, by a family member. That sucked, but I have the sense to know that pedophiles are not lurking around every corner, are not even usually strangers, and removing men from children’s lives or making them remove themselves because of the fear of being accused or because of the inconvenience placed by unnecessary rules is a tragedy.

  25. JTW September 28, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

    ““People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’ . . . And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10 verses 13–14, 16).”

    Now we know the real reason Jesus was crucified: he was a pedophile.

    At least in the New Testament as rewritten by the SJW and 3rd wave feminist movements!

  26. Linda September 28, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

    I think we had a program like this this past summer. For our Daily Vacation Bible School, we used a very popular program that is used worldwide. We are all volunteers, but we had to have background checks, fill our forms for them, and couldn’t be alone with any child, no matter what their age. Our program went from 4-11. I didn’t mind doing it, but felt offended because of my background with teaching kids. Our world has gone amok what will all the regulations. I feel for all the younger adults that are coming into the teaching cycle of the church. I’m sure many will just not teach. I wish I knew the answer.

  27. Ari September 28, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

    @John B

    It might be to keep the littles *in* the classrooms. I know mine tends to be down the hall in a flash if he has a mind to, and there are a few other “runners” we know to keep an eye on. Busy corridors with adults and older children going back and forth can be a nightmare for those of us who work with the under 4s.

  28. SteveS September 28, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    While men are more likely than women to be a “predator,” the odds are still extremely low that any male in the general population is a risk to your child. I certainly don’t think it jutisfies the kind of policy described in the article. My church is fairly small and we don’t do anything beyond a very basic, free background check. Even that isn’t all that foolproof, in that we have a number of people that are from other countries and way outside of what the check covers.

  29. Dean September 28, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

    My ward and I were asked to leave the parish Scout troop by the pastor. Seems a secretary somewhere took exception to my questioning why I should pay a large sum for a group of junior college students to take my fingerprints and my answers on a sheet of questions–to be put in a file cabinet someplace.
    They also questioned my being one-on-one with the 12-year-old for whom I was legal guardian (his 14-year-old sister and 10-year-old brother, too). A lot of folks don’t understand guardianship and step-parents in relation to minors.
    I held certs for BSA’s Youth Protection and for Venturing Youth Protection, plus clearances from the sheriff’s departments of two counties, the state attorney general’s office, the FBI, Secret Service, and the Pentagon.
    Appears that the letter writer’s chuch is over-reacting, an extension of governmetnal and societal “thinking”.

  30. Backroads September 28, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    I’m LDS, so membership is the same across the board. Anyone with such legal/problem issues is noted on church membership record and thus prohibited from the get-go from working with kids or whatever. Therefore, no real extreme rules like this. I think there is a two adult thing, but nothing more than that.

  31. Backroads September 28, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    K2, You’re absolutely right and I couldn’t agree more. I suggest, nay, demand that take every minor statistic and enforce mountain-over-molehill laws for them. The more the better.

  32. JP Merzetti September 28, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    Well, here I go talking logic again. No over-emotional nonsense from this quarter.
    The history of this world is full of unspeakable atrocities that men have committed toward women and children.
    Either women all get together to form some kind of neo-fascist militant worldwide organization to do away with males altogether…
    ….or we collectively work together, to create something new, different, and better.
    Because otherwise, men aren’t going away anytime soon, as far as I can tell – and if they do, they’re bound to take everyone else with them.

    On that account alone, we have a vested interest to work on the problem. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I appeal to general and universal common sense – that ‘males’ and children should be liberally mixed…so that aforesaid males actually learn how to establish positive bonds with children. What a novel concept.
    Last time I checked, males the world over are commonly conditioned to strive toward the finer accomplishments of life – such as learning how to protect people. People who happen to be female, and who also happen to be rather young. Wonderful stuff.

    Or shall we just throw in the towel, and heap endless piles of blathering legislation and one half of the human species? Personally, I don’t think that has ever worked very well.

    When I was a kid, learning how, why, when and where to trust – was part of my upbringing. A very important part. Actually, a self-empowering part. My elders and betters back then, actually thought it was a splendid idea that I learn it – so learn it I did. It never occurred to them at the time, that they should replace this ‘learning’ with their own shrinking nervous over-protection. Because eventually, one fine day, I would have to do it on my own, and by myself. Starting young as I did, I had a fabulous head start on the matter. I haven’t looked back, since.

  33. Yocheved September 28, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

    Hmmm, hard to know what to say about this. When I was a teen my parents sent me to their pastor for “counseling”.
    He closed to door to his office, and proceeded to make a pass at me, with his secretary right outside!

    A few years later, at a different church, my sister was molested by a youth leader, over a course of several months. When the youth leader was eventually fired because other girls made complaints, he went on a crime spree. He kidnapped a woman who was working at a convenience store, held her for 3 days while he repeatedly raped her, and then murdered her. That was many years ago, and now he’s a non compliant sex offender. My sister has no idea where he is, and she is constantly traumatized at the idea of ever running into him again.

    There are no easy answers here.

  34. James Pollock September 28, 2016 at 5:47 pm #

    This is NOT about “stranger danger”. Most cases of sex abuse come from people the parents trusted their child(ren) to, like family members, sports coaches, and, well, church group leaders.

    Since people who would, in fact, like to have sex with underage persons (whether you’re talking about actual children or late-stage adolescents who are “children” only by way of law) will openly declare this fact when filling out a job application, it is very difficult to know who might have such tendencies. The best thing to do is to set up your operations so that even if you HAVE accidentally hired (or accepted the volunteer services of) such a person, they do not have opportunity to act on it within your organization’s activities.

    Yes, the vast majority of church volunteers are perfectly nice people who would never harm a child. Think of the predator as an identity thief… they steal the goodwill earned by the good people, and turn it to their own ends. You can either let this keep happening, or you can take steps to prevent it from happening. Implementing policies that limit the exposure of adults to children is for YOUR OWN PROTECTION. Nobody can accuse you of acting improperly if you never had a moment in which you could act improperly.

  35. Cassie September 28, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

    @James

    I agree.

    In Australia the churches are being brought to task over decades (centuries?) of sexual abuse that has been swept under the carpet. It is frightening.

    Policies like this are a way to clean the slate.

    When I was a kid my parents ran a group home. My Dad would never drive the girls anywhere unless I was in the car with him (ie I was a 16yo chaperone!!). I asked him why and he just shrugged and said he wanted to make sure he was covered (and admittely they often dealt with kids that had a history of sexual abuse and were often confused about sexuality and love, rather than just ordinary healthy teenagers).

  36. hineata September 28, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

    @Robert Monroe Jr….probably wasn’t supposed to, but I laughed aloud at your comment. Maybe you should give that a go….according to research, Euro-American teachers have caused all sorts of problems for minority students for at least the last century. Maybe time to get rid of them all ☺.

    @K2 – you only know one African American family? Right there might be one of the problems with race relations in your country – groups physically separated from each other. Sort of happening here too, but continual intermarriage takes care of some of that ☺.

  37. James Pollock September 28, 2016 at 10:21 pm #

    ” For the most part it is men that fill up the jails. Men are more likely to do things they shouldn’t in a general sense.”

    Does this mean that men are more likely to to commit crimes, or that men are more likely to be charged, more likely to be convicted, and/or more likely to be sentenced to jail than are women?

  38. CrazyCatLady September 28, 2016 at 11:16 pm #

    K2, the only convicted pedophile that I personally know is a woman. And, to go along with what the other gentleman referred to with his wife’s fears, she is a white woman who molested a tween boy who is African American, and a neighbor.

    What you are advocating allows women like her to continue to do harm. You are saying that MEN need to be watched and kept away from kids. When what you are doing is turning them over to women who may molest them. And please don’t get into statistics of “men are more likely,” because we all know that one child harmed is too many.

    Have rules that are consistent and fair…and sane. Mostly, I prefer to trust people.

  39. JTW September 29, 2016 at 12:03 am #

    “While men are more likely than women to be a “predator,””

    They’re not, they’re just more likely to end up on “the register” because very few people would level accusations against a woman for fear of being called “a pussy”, being laughed at for letting a woman rape you, etc.
    And even were a man to go to the police complaining about sexual assault on him by a woman he’s highly unlikely to be believed, let alone have them start an investigation.
    This quite in contrast to when accusations are voiced against a man which are pretty much a guarantee of a conviction (suspicion is guilt when it comes to sexual assault cases when a man is the accused in many places, if not by law than in fact).

    So the figures are skewed severely because of how the law is applied unequally, to the point that the actual distribution is unknowable.

  40. sexhysteria September 29, 2016 at 3:15 am #

    Naturally, being alone with a child in a sexy place like a hallway is just too great a temptation for even the most conscientious man. Another solution to this danger is to install video cameras in all hallways bathrooms, etc. that continually repeat the warning: “You are being watched! You are being watched!” That should make the world a safer place.

  41. DrTorch September 29, 2016 at 8:45 am #

    Leave. That pastor is working to become AMOG, and will undermine the men in order to have a flock of women do his bidding.

    Ok, that’s drastic. Have the conversation with him first and insist that this training and approach is neither legitimate nor Biblical. If he won’t budge then your choice is to decide who’s going to leave.

  42. SteveS September 29, 2016 at 8:58 am #

    So the figures are skewed severely because of how the law is applied unequally, to the point that the actual distribution is unknowable.

    Facts and reality would seem to disagree. Unfortunately, your opinion doesn’t mean that it really is unknowable, just that it may be off to some degree. While society seems to go much lighter on women that sexually assault children, they certainly don’t just get let go.

    You are certainly free to spout off nonsense, but you should try and back it up facts.

  43. SteveS September 29, 2016 at 9:04 am #

    Does this mean that men are more likely to to commit crimes, or that men are more likely to be charged, more likely to be convicted, and/or more likely to be sentenced to jail than are women?

    Certain crimes, such as armed robbery and assault, are more likely to be committed by men. Other crimes, such as retail fraud, are more evenly distributed. Does this mean that men are more criminal? Probably not, as most men are not likely to commit any criminal act. That being said, we shouldn’t ignore reality just because it hurts our feelings or makes us uncomfortable.

  44. Dave September 29, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    All that this paranoia shows is that the Gospel has lost its power.
    In those days, even telling lies to church leaders resulted in instant death. They had Holy Spirit power; they did not need some nonsensical videos to sell fears to the leadership, and make everyone guilty until proven guilty.
    We need the power of God in our churches and in our lands today. May God send us an earth-shaking revival!

  45. John B. September 29, 2016 at 11:58 am #

    “Lord help us — literally. If Christ were here today and took the little children upon His lap, they’s have Him in handcuffs and charged with pedophilia before Peter could have drawn his sword.”

    @Shelly

    Spot-on Shelly! Couldn’t have said it better myself! This is how stupid and paranoid we have become with children, especially in America.

    @Ari

    How would banning childless adults to an area keep the children in their classrooms?

  46. Shelly Stow September 29, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

    Thanks, John, but I made a mistake there, and I have seen it repeated in some of the other comments, so I need to correct it. No one is charged with pedophilia. Pedophilia is a medical term, not a legal one. Furthermore, it is very misleading. Many who have pedophilia have never molested a child, and most who do commit child molestation are not pedophiles. Whether one has pedophilia or not, the crime, if committed, is charged as child molestation. And the term only applies to a primary sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. It is not applicable to an interest in teenagers.

  47. Bridget September 29, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

    I really don’t know what to say. The hallway is just the dumbest thing. Also, who is supposed to take the little boys to the bathroom? A female? Because females NEVER do bad things to kids, which is beside the point, but still.

  48. James Pollock September 29, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

    “While society seems to go much lighter on women that sexually assault children, they certainly don’t just get let go.

    You are certainly free to spout off nonsense, but you should try and back it up facts.”

    Yeah, about those facts. If they don’t “just get let go”, it’s semantics, because they were never taken in the first place. Victims of female sex assaults rarely report, and then charges are rarely pursued… because of a perception difference. A male teenager who is sexually assaulted by an adult woman? That lucky kid. Got just what he wanted. He’s got something to tell all his buddies about. Now imagine what happens to somebody who advances that same notion for a female teenager sexually assaulted by an adult man.

    And that’s a fact.

  49. Rachael September 29, 2016 at 3:47 pm #

    As a children’s pastor, a lot of our polices are in place due to PARENTS being over protective. Also, our polices are in place to, not just protect the child, but the adult. Because of the disfunction in our society today, it is way too easy for a kid to say, “So and so touched me!” And of course, it doesn’t matter it its a lie, who will authorities believe? The child. That’s one of the many reasons for our guidelines, to make sure the adult has back up.

    However, the note about a company trying to use fear to sell products, that’s another story.

  50. marie September 29, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

    …my fingerprints and my answers on a sheet of questions–to be put in a file cabinet someplace.

    This is a real concern. Churches and schools must have file drawers full of forms containing sensitive information–social security numbers, dates of birth. If they don’t have drawers full of those forms, what did they do with it? Are they following proper procedures for destroying sensitive records?

    If a church or a school can harbor criminals who would molest children, they can also harbor criminals who would commit identity theft.

    Criminals also molest adults but we see no panic that results in rules about who can be alone with whom. I suppose it is because adults are assumed to be able to report the crime and deal with the emotional turmoil…so we need to concentrate on showing kids how to do that, too.

    JP Merzetti contributed something valuable:
    When I was a kid, learning how, why, when and where to trust – was part of my upbringing. A very important part. Actually, a self-empowering part. My elders and betters back then, actually thought it was a splendid idea that I learn it – so learn it I did. It never occurred to them at the time, that they should replace this ‘learning’ with their own shrinking nervous over-protection. Because eventually, one fine day, I would have to do it on my own, and by myself. Starting young as I did, I had a fabulous head start on the matter. I haven’t looked back, since.

    There is far too much talk about the dangers of child molestation and far too little talk about teaching kids to deal with the awful stuff that life can bring us.

  51. Beth September 30, 2016 at 8:53 am #

    “…. it is way too easy for a kid to say, “So and so touched me!””

    Maybe I don’t know kids, but….why? I guess I don’t understand why a 4-year-old being taken to the bathroom by a church caregiver would all of a sudden decide to make this up; surely kids’ imaginations lean toward, I don’t know, dinosaurs or minions or lego men, not pretend sexual abuse.

  52. Jill September 30, 2016 at 9:02 am #

    This is nuts. Churches would be better off spending money on making their buildings accessible to the handicapped and reaching out to the larger community to try and be of assistance than buying these stupid, alarmist training courses.
    A group running a homeless program at my church tried to get me to submit to a background check when I volunteered. I told them it was insulting and if they wanted me to help out they’d have to take me at my word that I wasn’t a criminal (or at least one who’d been caught and had a record.) They dropped their demands for a background check.
    Maybe if we all stood our ground and refused to volunteer until they treated us like decent human beings instead of suspected mass murderers and child molesters they’d back off and we could all get on with joining together in worship and finding ways to be of service, rather than eying each other with suspicion.

  53. Alex September 30, 2016 at 9:52 am #

    The video-watching, the spending on those videos, and the policies are primarily so the church authorities can cover themselves in the event that something does go wrong. These are also the sorts of policies many parents would want, especially after all the news about children being victimized by church leaders.

    And I do believe that (probably) church leaders are more likely than the average person to abuse a child. And males are statistically much more likely than females to do so. Is there under-reporting of female offenders? Probably. Is it enough to make male and female offenders actually equal in number? I highly doubt it.

    I don’t have any great conclusion here. I understand the policy (as you’re describing it) is discriminatory against men, and I don’t like discrimination, but I also don’t think this is a battle worth fighting. The parents know men are more likely to offend, so the church makes sure parents are comfortable by having policies that favor women over men in some of these situations.

    I’m sure 98% of the parents and staff don’t mean to accuse you of anything any more than the Wal*Mart greeter who sees and unbagged item in your cart and checks your receipt means to accuse you of stealing. Both assume you’re probably not doing anything wrong or intending to do anything wrong unless proven otherwise, but both involve systems that make it harder for wrong actions to occur.

  54. mer October 1, 2016 at 6:15 am #

    Beth,
    Maybe not young kids, but preteen girls have been known to make up false accusations when they think they don’t get enough attention, I’ve also seen/heard younger kids making up false “Dad beat me” when they’re mad.

  55. James Pollock October 1, 2016 at 9:50 am #

    “Maybe I don’t know kids, but….why? I guess I don’t understand why a 4-year-old being taken to the bathroom by a church caregiver would all of a sudden decide to make this up”

    Does it matter why? Maybe it’s the kid saying something happened that didn’t, maybe its a listener who hears something in what the child says that indicates something happened that didn’t happen. False accusations (and false interpretations) exist.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McMartin_preschool_trial

  56. James Pollock October 1, 2016 at 9:52 am #

    … then there’s the possibility of scammers teaching their children to say things, in order to extract money from the church (or other organization).

  57. ezymel October 1, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

    We know that anything in this World can happen. Trust has gone out the window and children today are bombarded with so much fear about people getting killed, wars, disasters, natural and planned, is it no wonder they become afraid? The constant bombardment from the media of all the bad things going on is enough to make your head spin. A young child is vulnerable to all the things that go around them and if parents, teachers, counselors or even peers relay the wrong information, and if the child is old enough to comprehend it, then fear is instilled in them. There are so called companies that produce videos and being showed to law enforcement, parents, teachers, etc and give the wrong information, then it becomes even more complicated. How can a child today grow up into a decent citizen when this happens? I am sorry to say that things have gotten a lot worse when it involves social concerns. I grew up in the fifties and although problems existed then, it is not near as bad of what is happening today.

  58. Cinder October 1, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    Mark gunger talks about programs like these often about how the church is making any men out to be predators, and how terrible it is.

  59. Antoinette McGowan October 11, 2016 at 1:55 pm #

    @K2 your posting was this “While men might not like it, men are a higher risk than women. For the most part it is men that fill up the jails. Men are more likely to do things they shouldn’t in a general sense.”

    Now let me tell you that it is partly false. For one it is statistically proven that a child is more likely to be sexually abused by their mother than their father. Therefore they are not a higher risk. The reason that jails are filled with more men for sexual crimes than women is that our society does not accept that women can do these things. It is sad because it is more women than men that in reality are sexual predators. But again our society does not want to accept this. I learned this while obtaining my undergrad in Criminal Justice with a minor in forensic psychology. I will admit until I took these courses I believed just like you did that men were the risk factor. Now I know the truth and society needs to step up and accept reality and stop viewing men as predators and women as innocent.