“Why I Will Not Volunteer for My Church’s Nursery Anymore”

Here’s bsbahbkykk
how worst-first thinking and insurance issues (the two are linked, of course) corrode community, example #763:
Dear Free-Range Kids: I previously had helped a couple of times in our church’s nursery. Due to gaps across caregivers on the latest occasion, I was approached by a kiddo who needed to use the potty, and so I helped her. I later was redressed by church nursery staff and had a terse confrontation with the church director of children’s ministries. No men were to ever change diapers, etc, etc.
The staffer cited the risks of men being child sexual predators.  Of course, she was speaking to an ex-child Social Worker with a MA in behavioral/psych research — me. To compound this issue, our household’s gender roles are woefully out of wack: both my wife and I work, I do the majority of the cooking, I complete at least half of the cleaning, and at least half of our child-supervision.  Oh, and I happen to have two small girls (if that matters).
The church staffer wasn’t too interested in my offer to pay for CACI, DOJ and FBI clearance checks (I’m fairly certain the church doesn’t pay for all the clearances): she had her legally-directed marching orders.
My religious/spiritual life is a convoluted matter, but I have since determined that within the confines of such church communities, I will not provide care-giving whatsoever. If a community is looking for the worst, they are likely to find it (whether it be real or imagined).
William in California
I understand why churches are wary of anyone ever being alone with a child, and I can even understand why an adult would be wary, too. But if we were oblivious to child molesting in the bad old days, we are obsessed by it today, and consider it the default setting of adults, especially men. As in, “Why is this guy volunteering with kids?”
We have started to regard each other the way the TSA regards us: Every one of us is a threat until proven, temporarily, otherwise.
We all get how demoralizing it is to be considered possible terrorists, right down to whatever’s in our water bottles, and we can easily see the impact of this fear on travel.
The impact of the fear of men around kids is even more vast. Trust is replaced by suspicion, community is replaced by “security.” I truly am not sure how to balance trust and safety, but I am quite sure that we have tipped in the wrong direction, and I welcome your ideas. – L


Art thou male? Get thee away from the little children.

Art thou male? The horror! 


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69 Responses to “Why I Will Not Volunteer for My Church’s Nursery Anymore”

  1. Emily June 28, 2016 at 10:38 am #

    Luke 18:16 “But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”

    Jesus was male, and nobody ever assumed he was a pedophile. Just saying.

  2. Jamie June 28, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    This has recently came up a my church too. It is frustrating! We had a standing policy of no males allowed to help in the nursery, but due to lack of volunteers our nursery directors opened it up to male volunteers. But just like this man, they aren’t allowed to take children to the bathroom (we have a bathroom with a half door inside the nursery mind you) or change diapers (which are also changed right in the nursery. We still had a couple moms, one in particular who has fought it tooth and nail, because she saw one of the older gentlemen who signed up to volunteer with a child on his lap during coffee hour and it made her uncomfortable. The child was his granddaughter!! But still to appease her, the policy is now you must be a teenager boy or a dad of one of the kids. No grandpas allowed.

  3. Vince June 28, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    THIS. I gave up helping with Awana at our church. I did it for years then the rules started creeping in to the point of not allowing men to pretty much do ANYTHING without a committee nearby. Luckily, after I left the church, the families and kids who I worked with still say ‘hi’ and reflect on the positive experience we both had.

    Not my loss.

  4. Scott June 28, 2016 at 10:58 am #

    There’s been a lot of news coverage the last 20 years of teachers in the US sexually abusing young students they are responsible for. In the majority of cases, a female teacher is sexually abusing a male student. Therefore if the church wishes to make decisions based on media hysteria they should consider instead banning females from being caretakers for children there as they would seem to be much more prone to be sex abusers.

  5. m June 28, 2016 at 11:38 am #

    As a mother of two boys, this makes me so sad. They will forever be suspect just because they are male.

    As a woman, it makes me mad. Didn’t the feminists fight for equality? Demanding men be equal partners and parents? Yet once men stepped up, there is an overall assumption they must be pedos for wanting to spend time with any child, even their own. WTF?

    A woman at the park is a mom. A man at the park is a pedo. A woman in a van by the school is a mom. A man in a van by the school is a pedo. Woman walking out of a store with a screaming toddler? Mom. Man walking out of a store with a calm and happy child? Pedo. Older woman cuddling child. Grandma! Older man with child on his lap. Pedo.

    Change “man” to “black man” or “woman” and there would be protests of racism or sexism. But it’s perfectly okay to brand any and all men as crazed sex fiends.

    We are moving into an almost Victorian movement in which women and children need to be protected at all times, and men are all seen as potential rapists and pedophiles.

    Utterly and absolutely disgusting.

  6. n June 28, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

    I wanted to say that things are not the same everywhere. We are lucky to live in a community where sanity usually prevails. When my daughter was little, she went to a university run preschool where more than half of her caregivers were young and not so young men. They had the same responsibilities as the female caregivers, including diper duty, sunscreen duty, and bathing suit changing duty. They even had a water hose duty to clean the kids who were considered too derty to go back inside 🙂 Now that she’s in elementary school, my daughter goes to a local jcc for an after school program and all of her caunslers are guys in their mid twenties. Under their supervision kids are having a blast. Just the other day when I came to pick her up, a bunch of kids were climbing a tree, including my daughter, and the teacher was giving them pointers)

  7. Mike June 28, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

    I stopped volunteering for children’s ministry and the nursery years ago, for this same reason. Our church is incredible, but in this one area there is still that crazy paranoia about men that is becoming so pervasive in our society.

    The first time my wife and I volunteered together for the nursery I noticed the prominent line on the posted rules for the workers: “No men are allowed to change diapers or help in the potty, except for their own children.” We volunteered together one more time, but that was the last time for me. She does it now without me. I just couldn’t do it again. I was molested as a child, and the thought of me voluntarily being somewhere where I would be automatically placed in the same category as the monster who did that to me, disgusted me.

    The truly bizarre and irrational thing about the diaper rule is that there are always two workers, and the changing table is right there in the small room where all the children are playing and the other worker is working! What is it that they imagine could possibly happen??

    The man=potential-predator assumption has now grown so large in our culture that I can’t conceive of any way it will ever go away. I hope I’m wrong.

  8. Alinsky Rocks! June 28, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

    Ha! My wife used to show off my diapering skills. No longer acceptable I guess.

    Seriously this issue is no different from so many others where Liberals have decided that people can’t be trusted to behave properly in the presence of ___________________. Men can’t be trusted in the presence of a naked baby. People can’t be trusted in the presence of a gun. ETC…

  9. Elsie K June 28, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    I know a woman who told me she spends the hour where kids go to class at church looking in the men’s bathroom for perverts. I don’t remember what I said to her, but I was thinking, “You sound like the pervert!”

    If you were so frightened that there were bathrooms filled with male perverts at your church, why would you attend that church?

  10. Gina June 28, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    Alinksky..wonder why you attribute this to Liberals? I’m a bleeding heart and I think men working with young kids is awesome!

    My son, almost 30, has been a preschool teacher for years. Kids adore him, administrators adore him, parents adore him. I worry ALL the time. All it takes is one person to make a false accusation….
    He long ago stopped changing diapers and helping kids in the restroom unless another teacher is with him. So sad.

  11. Jay June 28, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    I know that at least in our church, we have to have similar measures in place in order to qualify for our insurance policy. It’s strictly for churches, biased, and unfair — but to comply with government regulations we have to follow. It is not a choice we wanted to make.

  12. Stephanie June 28, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

    This makes me so sad. Our church has so many male volunteers, and the same rules apply to both men and women. They do have a paid nursery worker whose job it is to do the diaper changing, but since I’d rather play with babies than handle that duty, it’s fine by me. When I was volunteering at MOPS there was an older gentleman who the 3-5 year old boys adored. This man was the strict disciplinarian that many of the boys were missing at home, and he was determined to whip these boys into shape. The boys loved it! Admittedly, this man had zero interest in taking kids to the bathroom, so it fell on the female volunteers, but if the boys ever lost Mr. Leo because men were made to feel unwelcome as volunteers, that would be so sad for all of them.

  13. Sarah Wolf June 28, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

    /this is because as whole, we as a society are not taught “safety” skills in terms if behavior rather then stereotypes. There are plenty of women who go into the “helping” professions who are narcs and other pretty bad issues that can wreck our kids. Those kind of people love power.

    The ironic thing is we ant more men to be involved, model good values, kindness etc. But somehow not with babies? Way o the world it seems

  14. John B. June 28, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    When it comes to the protection of children, churches seem to be the poster place for worst-first thinking. The church building we’re in has a large classroom section that used to be the school before we built a new school separate from the sanctuary building. But they still use those classrooms for Sunday morning Bible studies for both adults and children. They’re a maze of classrooms and one Sunday morning while trying to find my way to the exit I got caught up in the maze apparently near the children’s classrooms. Well, I got a stiff reprimand from one of the mothers informing me that I was not allowed in that area. Of course when I told her I was lost she pointed me to the exit.

    I was a little bit miffed when she told me I wasn’t allowed in that area but sure enough I eventually came across a sign on a door that read “To better protect our little ones, please do not use these doors on Sunday morning”.

    Protect them from what? With all of the adults and parents running around that area, how in the world am I ever gonna get away with abducting and/or molesting a child? The teachers know who each kid’s parents are so it’s not like I could dupe them into believing I’m the kid’s parent. Even if I could, the kid’s are not that dumb to notice that I’m not their dad. So am I gonna grab them, gag them with wash cloth and stick them under my shirt and sneak out of the building with nobody noticing? Please!

    Now I understand the church not wanting to trust strangers around the children but the opportunity (perhaps a poor choice of a word) to do anything nefarious to a kid within that environment would be next to impossible.

  15. John B. June 28, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

    @Alinsky Rocks!:

    I don’t believe pedophilia paranoia is reserved just for liberals because churches, the institutions displaying paranoia in this situation and situations described by the people on this blog within their own churches, tend to be ultra conservative!

  16. Trey June 28, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

    Is there an actuary in the commentariat?
    I’m asking because I’d want to see the odds on it happening by sex of caregiver. Then if this is insurance driven or badly written organization policy.

  17. Monica June 28, 2016 at 1:14 pm #

    The church we used to attend has this same policy. It’s even worse: the rules state that there must always be two teachers in each children’s class, a female and a male, two females, but NEVER two males. We females must always watch those creepy males, and of course, be there to take children of either gender to the bathroom.

    The reason given for this absurd requirement (because I challenged it) is that their insurance company requires it and they can’t be out of compliance in case someone claims a child is sexually abused and the church is sued. I am certain that the majority of members there would demand these rules regardless of insurance requirements, because insanity prevails everywhere in this country.

    Slightly off-topic note: There is a woman in that church who homeschools her children. (Nothing against homeschooling, just that her reason for it is to always, always, always have her children in sight .) We went as a group to a nearby community to a comedy night at another church, and she walked her FOURTEEN year old son to the bathroom and stood outside to wait for him and walk him back to his seat. So of course people with that mentality support “Every Male is a Potential Sexual Predator” type thinking.

  18. Alan June 28, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

    One more point to consider:

    A missionary woman I know has told me that in a prosperous nation in Asia she observed that when mothers with small children met at the church she was working with, they would often fondle their small children. Yes, we are talking fondling of genitals here. They did this publicly and without fear, because this was the tradition there (as, in fact, it has been a customary way to calm children in much of the world, including the United States until the late 1800s). This was in a peaceful and prosperous nation, with much lower rates of crime and higher rates of well-being than here in the United States.

    Which is to say: given the worst case scenario, that every man in a nursery were to “molest” children in this way, what of it? The evidence points to it being harmless, except when busybodies interfere and make a child fearful and embarrassed about it. In fact, considering that the United States was significantly more peaceful in the 1800s than in the 1900s, I have to wonder if the lack of touch is more harmful. There is considerable research affirming the importance of touch in promoting bonding and peacefulness.

    Sometimes I suspect that the cure is far, far worse than the disease, and that therapists and other self-appointed “experts” are the greatest threat to children’s emotional well-being.

  19. jb June 28, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    “If you were so frightened that there were bathrooms filled with male perverts at your church, why would you attend that church?”

    Good point. Not only do people engage in worst-first thinking, they don’t take it to its logical conclusion.

  20. Theresa June 28, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    Somehow I don’t think Jesus would approve of calling every guy a pedophile. But who goes to church to listen to God.

  21. Jessica June 28, 2016 at 1:49 pm #

    It is so true about the pendulum swing from “oblivious” to “obsessed.” It was awful back in the day when it never occurred to anyone to be worried about molestation– we know, statistically, it’s fairly common. And it does often occur with trusted adults, like Sunday school teachers. So I’m glad we are more aware of this now. But this extremism– no men allowed to volunteer? Can’t take a child to the bathroom, even when the entire bathroom is in full view of all the other teachers and it would be totally impossible to do anything secretive? It’s a terrible way to live.

  22. Poppy June 28, 2016 at 1:53 pm #

    Of course a man who is trusted to be allowed to volunteer at a nursery should be able to wipe little bums / help kids go to the loo if needed. BUT…. Do they do any background check on their volunteers? In my country, you are not allowed to work with underage children, not even as a volunteer, unless you have a specific document from the civil bureau (not sure what that’s called in english. It’s where you also get your passport etc.). It’s easy to get, it’s a background check going back 5 years to see if you have any criminal record that has to do with the area of work you are applying it for.

    While I totally agree this hysteria over any man being a possible pedophile is insane, I do feel random people helping out in nurseries without being background checked first isn’t a good idea.

  23. Jessica June 28, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

    For your question– “I welcome ideas”– here’s my take:

    I teach elementary school. Schools in this country have done a good job, in the past 15 years, of putting “safeguards” in place. A typical example is, you can not be one-on-one in a classroom with a closed door. If you need to have a private conference with a student, the door must be open. No one can hear you talk, but everyone walking down the hallway can glance in. This makes it basically impossible to hurt a child on the school grounds during school hours without breaking a major rule and jeopardizing your job. For older students, teachers may be prohibited from contacting students on social media– they can be friendly mentors and trusted adults, but the line is drawn at an online “friendship.”

    Once the rules are in place, people are given freedom to work as professionals within them. Men teach classes of young students regularly. I’ve never seen men being particularly suspect among the staff, as both men and women are following the same safeguards.

  24. Poppy June 28, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

    What I just commented about the document goes for both men and women, btw!

    This mass worry about pedophiles lurking everywhere clearly is hysterical, though less so here (The Netherlands) than in the US from what I’ve read. But they do exist, and they do try and find places/jobs where they have access to children. It’s a sad fact of life. I think my country is only being sensible in demanding a background check for ANY person, male of female, who will work closely with underage children.

    I can’t help but think: is no background check involved because this is ran by a church? Because that would imply church-going people are trustworthy with children by default. And that IS scary to me….. Thankfully, the only nurseries we have here are government licensed and staffed by trained professionals.

  25. Poppy June 28, 2016 at 2:04 pm #


    …….are you seriously implying here that strangers touching childrens genitalia can be compared to a cultural tradition of the MOTHERS doing this in a very different part of the world, and is therefor harmless?????

    I seriously hope I read that wrong…..

  26. Dee June 28, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    Thankfully, our church hasn’t gone crazy YET! We’ve had several men involved in child care. One a young man in his 20s who is great with kids and youth. Another was a grad student who paid his way through by babysitting and tutoring.

  27. Brooks June 28, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

    I wonder if William in California sat down with the senior minister and laid out the facts and fully explained the hysteria of all this paranoia. I ask, because I have done this (not at church, where thankfully we’re still sane at mine), and it has had some positive effect. We live doors down from our 4th-5th grade school, and a gaggle of girls always walked home with my daughter. I would sometimes walk down to the school at the end of the day for no particular reason other than the fact that I work from home and could. Well, EVERY time a teacher saw me coming from afar, they made a beeline toward me to inquire who I was, what I was doing, etc. The principal told me that was policy as dictated by the police – for anyone – male, female, adult, child, service worker, etc. Yet when I told her that my wife had never once in the four years our kids were there had been accosted, she relented and said she’d revisit that policy.

    More and more of us have to do something to confront this creeping plague or it will win.

  28. Papilio June 28, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

    @Poppy: And then there was Robert M…

    I guess what it comes down to is that you can’t prevent everything by backgroundchecking, but also that a lot of good will be lost if you exclude males because they’re males. I agree that the same rules should apply to both genders so no one feels discriminated against.

  29. meg June 28, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    Two comments:

    1. Interesting to see a commenter attribute this sort of thing to liberalism, because my very liberal UU church has no such rules. (Volunteers do submit to background checks – paid for by the church and I think required by our insurance – and we require at least 2 volunteers in each room, but there are no restrictions based on a person’s sex or gender.)

    2. Someone remarked on a homeschool mom who walks her 14YO to the bathroom. I homeschool my kids & my son has been using public men’s rooms on his own since he was 4. Unless he wants to come with me into the women’s room, which occasionally he asks to do (usually in places where there are a lot of people; I think he’s afraid he won’t be able to find me in a crowd when he comes out!). So we’re not all nuts. 🙂

  30. Coasterfreak June 28, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

    I’m not the kind of guy who would volunteer for a nursery position or any other position where I have to look after other people’s kids. It’s just not me. I don’t enjoy it. I loved raising my own kids, but I just don’t enjoy looking after other people’s kids at all. But I am highly angered by the notion that any man who does want to help look after children is doing so with evil intentions.

    However, IF I ever decided to change my policy of not volunteering in the church nursery, I would consider the rule against men changing diapers to be a solid WIN. 🙂 They want only women to change the poopy diapers? That’s fine with me, even though the reasoning behind it infuriates me.

  31. MichelleB June 28, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

    If I knew a mom walking her fourteen year old son to the men’s room, I’d assume that the son had done something that made her think that kind of supervision was necessary, not that she was afraid for his safety.

  32. Vaughan Evans June 28, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    I am very angry.
    I am 67. My mother has misgivings about children having too much female influence-and too little male influence.
    There were a number of reasons for this. My mother had three brother(For this reason she had a real respect for boys and men.)
    -But she DID have misgivings-when I was 18-22-of my being with children.

    When I was 18, I took a boy(aged 110 around a paper route.
    My mother thought that people would have misgivings-about me-a young man-of being alone with a child.
    -Well in the next few yeas, I took FIVE different people around paper routes. The parents(even though I was a stranger to them)had no misgiving.)

  33. Jennifer Hendricks June 28, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

    Jay says:

    “I know that at least in our church, we have to have similar measures in place in order to qualify for our insurance policy. It’s strictly for churches, biased, and unfair — but to comply with government regulations we have to follow. It is not a choice we wanted to make.”

    If someone is telling you that a government regulation requires this discriminatory policy, that person is wrong. And if it’s the insurance company, the requirement to adopt a discriminatory policy may be illegal.

  34. Backroads June 28, 2016 at 5:05 pm #

    My church tends to be organized geographically, so the people in the nursery are probably your neighbors. A much better system. There are no background checks, but there are so many adults in the nursery and any legal background check problems are a matter of church membership record. No system is perfect, but it works and it’s a lot better than this nonsense.

  35. Jessie June 28, 2016 at 5:08 pm #

    I love my Church, but I was really turned off by this new policy:
    “To date, we have allowed students to check themselves out of the Tweenz class rather than requiring a parent to pick them up.  However, going forward, for the safety and security of our children, we will be requiring you to pick up your child with your parent sticker that matches the unique alphanumeric code on your child’s sticker.  Children will not be permitted to leave the Tweenz class without a parent picking them up (using the matching sticker system).”
    These same kids are going on mission trips!

  36. Liz June 28, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

    That’s very sad. Our church does not allow husband-wife teams to serve in certain places together (e.g. counting the offering or working in the nursery) but welcomes male and female volunteers everywhere. For liability reasons we just can’t work together in some areas, and that seems sensible rather than paranoid.

  37. Amanda Wooldridge June 28, 2016 at 6:25 pm #

    I am a member of the United Methodist Church which has a “Safe Sanctuary” policy. This policy requires that there always be two caregivers with children. The caregivers are background checked. It doesn’t matter if they are men or women.

    To be honest, I am kind of surprised that a male Social Worker would react the way he did. In this day and age, it is pretty standard stuff.

  38. Abigail June 28, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

    This does sound like gender discrimination. It also reminds me of my MIL who had a child moved to her Kindergarten class because the girl was special needs and wore diapers. The other kinder teacher was male, he was not allowed to change anyone’s diaper (girl or boy). Why not a boy’s diaper? Because ALL men MIGHT be pedophiles? So dumb.

  39. NY Mom June 28, 2016 at 6:47 pm #

    He was supposed to let the little girl–whom we assume is well and politely brought up–poop in her pants? And endure extreme shame?
    This has been going on a long time, since the nineteen seventies or earlier. A result of the paranoia of the Joe McCarthy era of the House Unamerican Activities Committee? Or the Red Scare that put us in Viet Nam? Or was it the War on Crime?

    We enclosed our front porches and built patios out back. We put our kids on school buses rather than allow them to walk two blocks to school. We stopped letting neighbors an friends babysit the kids. We bought first rifles then handguns then Assault Weapons of Mass Destruction. Our homes are walled and gated arsenals.

    We are beyond ignorant and ridiculous with our fears and tears and panic attacks.

    Stranger Danger sells guns and gets politicians elected. But it is a Marketing Device that has no relationship to reality.

    Men who help little kids stay to neat and sweet are our heroes–or should be.

    Reality Check: The United States is safe. Our cities are safe. Our churches are safe.
    And they would be safer if civilians didn’t pack their pistols everywhere. A loaded handgun was found in our local park after a soccer game–left by a parent who said it slipped out of his pocket. Loaded. On the ground after the game.

    That man was dangerous. The dad who helped the little girls pull up her panties was not.

    Isn’t it time to get some of this right? When was the last time a dad volunteering in a nursery was jailed for helping a child with toileting? When was the last time a child killed another kid with a loaded gun left out by a parent or grandparent? Do the numbers!

    Good luck, folks, rearing kids who are secure, happy, resilient and brave.

  40. MichaelF June 28, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

    Its all theater and CYA to be able to show some defense should anything happen, or even be reported. None of it does anything, except put people who want to help through enough obstacles that they don’t want to help out anymore, then when no one volunteers people ask why.

    Considering in this country you are supposedly innocent until guilty, its sad how someones sense of self being slighted takes more precedence than any evidence to the contrary.

    It’s why I don’t bother volunteering as much as I could, I am tired of a background checks for the school, the soccer team, baseball team, and Scouts (which also includes a mandatory yearly online class). If I want to help out and enjoy some activity with my kids I shouldn’t need to go through all this, from now on I will just pay my fees and watch my own kids.

  41. MichaelF June 28, 2016 at 7:59 pm #

    “To be honest, I am kind of surprised that a male Social Worker would react the way he did. In this day and age, it is pretty standard stuff.”

    That’s the problem, it SHOULDN’T be standard stuff!

  42. Mandy June 28, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

    Sometimes I wonder what sorts of things ignorant people said about wonderful, warm, fun-loving, always-smiling black male kindergarten teacher, either behind his back or to his face. At age five, it never would have occurred to me to be suspicious of the way he acted around his students – it was the way every adult who loves children acts around them. But that was before people told me about How Dangerous The World Is Today (TM).

  43. elizabeth June 28, 2016 at 8:20 pm #

    Ny mom

    Typical liberal, dragging guns in where they arent part of the discussion and lumping responsible gun owners (many) with irresponsible gun owners (few). Go debate guns somewhere else.

  44. Beth June 28, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

    If the roles were reversed, and every woman was assumed to be a pedophile, and there were rules and ordinances and regulations and laws governing their proximity to children, the country would be in an uproar. Same with other races.

    But when it’s men/boys, everyone just rolls over and agrees “our insurance requires it”. What would a church do if their insurance required that no African Americans could volunteer in the nursery?

  45. bluebird of bitterness June 28, 2016 at 9:37 pm #

    I was the nursery coordinator for many years at the church I used to attend, and we had all the infuriatingly stupid paranoid rules that other commenters have referenced — all of which were dictated by the church’s insurance policy. Every adult who worked with kids in any capacity was required to suffer through this horrible hours-long training session — it was called “safe child training” or something of that nature, but was mostly just an extended course in paranoia, being suspicious of everyone, and making anonymous phone calls to Child Protective Services on the flimsiest of pretexts. If anyone had the temerity to challenge any of that b.s., he/she was promptly squelched with admonitions about how this is absolutely necessary if we want to keep our kids safe — the clear implication being that if you object in any way, you must want children to be abducted and tortured and raped and murdered.

  46. SteveD June 28, 2016 at 10:47 pm #

    This great old Cary Grant–Irene Dunne movie, called: “Penny Serenade” has a scene where an older man gives an infant a bath.


    Move the slider to: 1:10:02 for that scene… but you really should treat yourself to watching the entire movie, if you haven’t seen it before.

  47. J.T. Wenting June 28, 2016 at 11:36 pm #

    And it’s not just in church. Many men (myself included) won’t help children (or women) in trouble anywhere for fear of being arrested as sexual predators.
    If I see a child or woman in trouble, I look the other way and walk around. It’s just too dangerous for me to do anything else.

    Heck, I’ve had people declare me a pedophile for parking my car near a school to get groceries in the supermarket which is located next door to said school, it’s gotten THAT bad.

  48. BL June 29, 2016 at 6:15 am #

    “We have started to regard each other the way the TSA regards us: Every one of us is a threat until proven, temporarily, otherwise.”

    The correct reaction to people like this is:

    “I don’t trust you either. At all. I will assume the worst about you at all times.”

  49. Katie G June 29, 2016 at 6:40 am #

    I’ve said here and elsewhere before that any time this attitude comes up, IRL, online, with or without official policies, we have to say “Do you want your husband/son/brother/father/nephew/cousin/friend/uncle/father-in-law treated the way you’re treating/thinking of that guy? No? Then treat him the way you’d like the males in your life treated.”

    I have two sons and several nephews, ranging from 15 to 3. Two of those nephews are brothers with 11 years’ age difference. Older is a wonderful big brother and big cousin, and I would stand right with my sister-in-law as mama bear if anyone made some sort of idiotic blanket accusation against him for being around the younger ones.

  50. Brjan June 29, 2016 at 7:55 am #

    I am glad at least some of the comments point out that this is a result of insurance rules and legal risks, not assumptions church staff make.

    Lenore, you should edit your post to point this out – this is a bigger problem than just churches.

  51. BL June 29, 2016 at 8:17 am #


    “I am glad at least some of the comments point out that this is a result of insurance rules and legal risks, not assumptions church staff make.”

    Then the churches (or schools, or whoever it is) should say so and provide contact information about the insurers.

  52. CrazyCatLady June 29, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    Monica wrote: Slightly off-topic note: There is a woman in that church who homeschools her children. (Nothing against homeschooling, just that her reason for it is to always, always, always have her children in sight .) We went as a group to a nearby community to a comedy night at another church, and she walked her FOURTEEN year old son to the bathroom and stood outside to wait for him and walk him back to his seat. So of course people with that mentality support “Every Male is a Potential Sexual Predator” type thinking.

    There might be other reasons why this mom escorts her son to the bathroom. I HOPE that this is not the case with this other mom, but….it might be, depending on how repressive people are where you live. We have heard the stories about the boy who didn’t advert his eyes when his 5 year old classmate in the dress stepped over his head at nap time and ended up on a registry. To avoid having the child sent off to some inpatient counseling center like some we have read about here, the mom may be under court orders to be with him at all times, and if he is not, he could be sent away. There may be other circumstances, besides hoovering, that you don’t know about. And, if there are…don’t expect her to tell you as this is not something that parents want brandied about as a topic of general conversation.

  53. Splunge June 29, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    Alan, what planet are you from? You’re full of crap. You know how stupid what you said is?!? Go troll somewhere else!

  54. Rachael June 29, 2016 at 10:25 am #

    As a Children’s Pastor, we also have the same policy of men not changing diapers for a reason. It has nothing to do with pedophiles. It has everything to do with their own safety. Any child can claim that a male touched them and the courts would for sure take the child’s side over the worker because 99% of pedophiles are male. We want to protect them.
    We do background checks on all our workers. A church up the road from us had an incident where a male (a child sex-offender, fresh out of jail) took a child into the bathroom and molested him. We also had a step-father coming to our church (who through loop holes, our background check didn’t have show his previous charges- but we found out and he was a sex offender and was never aloud around the kids min) was molesting/raping his step son for years. Even though I consider myself a ‘free-ranger’ I have a duty to not only protect the kids that come into my ministry, but to protect my workers from false accusations.

  55. Rachael June 29, 2016 at 10:32 am #

    WOW. I should check my spelling before I post. *allowed

  56. Warren June 29, 2016 at 10:39 am #

    Better safe than sorry, is that it?

    Then there is only one logical step to take. In order to do everything you can to protect the children and adults that attend your church you must immediately close the church down. Because once you eliminate male child interactions those pervs will turn to women or gay sex in the confessional. Not to mention false accusations by women and men. Then you will eventually have one woman commit a sex offense or be accused of one.
    So best to just close the doors now for everyone’s sake.

  57. Buffy June 29, 2016 at 11:46 am #

    @Rachael, do you have to protect people of color from alleged false accusations too? If your insurance and “common sense” and “safety” required it, would you?

  58. Barnacle Bill June 29, 2016 at 11:49 am #

    “To compound this issue, our household’s gender roles are woefully out of wack…” Huh.

  59. WendyW June 29, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

    Some one said this kind of policy is discriminatory against churches, but I think it’s actually that churches are their own little niche, with unique issues, when it comes to child care. Think about the types of places where children are cared for.

    Schools and day care centers have specific children and specific workers that are always the same. Changes are rare, but are fairly permanent. Parents are comfortable with the status quo because they know that proper care has been taken to prevent predators, there is a high level of everyone knowing each other or at least being recognized, and because nearly everyone grew up in a public school environment and incidents are rare.

    Random childcare arranged by the parents usually involves people that personally know each other- friends, neighbors, or relatives. Even though known people are the bigger threat, it allows parents comfort with the arrangements, and an illusion of control.

    Churches, however, can be totally random, especially for visitors. You are handing your child over to a total stranger. Some mega-churches are so huge that the child care workers might never meet up with the parents anywhere other than the nursery door. Add in the rotating volunteer schedules, and random weeks when the family doesn’t attend, and you could be handing your child over to people that you actually see face to face only a few times a year. I see the cashiers at Walmart more than that, and I wouldn’t give them my kid! That is a very daunting prospect for a young parent, especially a first-time parent.

    I don’t like the way the insurance policies are written and the policies the churches are required to put in place, but I don’t think it any different than the school policies that require background checks for a classroom volunteer. It’s overkill, but as long as we have laws that don’t penalize the sue-happy money-grabbers, we’re stuck with the overkill.

  60. Yocheved June 29, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

    My brother’s first full time job was working at a daycare. He was excellent at it, he adored the kids, the other women who worked there loved him, and so did all the moms – except one. She complained, and they had to let him go. Cause of dismissal? Being a person in possession of a penis.

  61. Donna June 29, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

    “Any child can claim that a male touched them and the courts would for sure take the child’s side”

    Say diaper-aged children are regularly falsely accusing people of molesting them (they aren’t), how does not allowing men to change diapers affect this in any way whatsoever? Do you really think that a toddler troubled enough to make up such allegations will limit them to only people who changed their diapers? Do you really think that a crazy parent who would coax a child into making such allegations (remember that the impetus of the McMartin Preschool case was a paranoid schizophrenic who had a psychotic break and ultimately died of alcohol abuse before trial and not a normal person) would only accuse people who changed diapers? And will limit them to only men (6 out of 7 original McMartin preschool defendants were women)? The fact is that if people are of the type to falsely accuse others of crimes, they generally don’t let little things like facts and reality impact them.

    “because 99% of pedophiles are male.”

    Not even close to true. There may be more male pedophiles (or males may just get caught more often because people like you believe that women can’t be pedophiles so women get away with it more often), but it is certainly not a 99 to 1 ratio.

  62. SteveS June 30, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    While I would agree that most child molesters are male, most males are NOT child molesters, and it seems grossly unfair to treat them as potential criminals.

    The insurance issue keeps coming up as an excuse for all sorts of policies, but I am skeptical. We started going to a church last about 2 years ago. We are still pretty small, but have a fairly active children’s ministry and a nursery. I am the only attorney, so I often get tapped to help out with stuff related to liability and policies that are designed to minimize this. We have insurance. It turns out that our carrier didn’t require all sorts of restrictions.

    As such, we don’t have any restrictions on who can serve in the nursery. Men are welcome. Women are welcome. Responsible teens are welcome. Even people with past criminal convictions will be considered and it will depend on what the offense was and when it occurred.

    I suspect that many of these policies are based on some misguided notion of potential danger and it just easier to blame it on an insurance company.

  63. Cerellia June 30, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

    The double standart is frustrating. If children who are too young to go to the toilet alone are sent to nursery, they are bound to be assisted or nappy-changed by an adult. It’s understandable that there are procedures in selecting the people to do this, but gender shouldn’t be a criterion.

  64. Beth June 30, 2016 at 9:42 pm #

    Donna, great points.

  65. Hugo S Cunningham June 30, 2016 at 11:24 pm #

    It takes a village to raise a child– Hillary Clinton in 1996.

    The whole village is plotting to molest your child. — USA insurance protocols in 2016

  66. Emily July 1, 2016 at 8:41 am #

    >>It takes a village to raise a child– Hillary Clinton in 1996.

    The whole village is plotting to molest your child. — USA insurance protocols in 2016.<<

    I don't buy that. For a whole village to be plotting to molest a child, they'd all have to get together and agree on something, and a lot of places just don't have that sense of community anymore.

  67. Vince July 3, 2016 at 9:43 am #

    Several years ago I wanted to be involved with the Big Brothers / Big Sisters organization. I have two daughters that are grown. Even though I’m a male, I’d prefer to be a Big Brother to a girl. My daughters played sports, hiked, went to museums, sporting events, music events, etc.

    BB/BS won’t allow a male to be Big Brother to a girl. However, it is perfectly okay for a female to be a Big Sister to a boy.

    Offered to pay for my own background check. They weren’t interested. Since then I’ve started my own girls fastpitch pitching lessons. 90+ girls over the past 12 years. Going strong. No problems. And have been recognized by the American Red Cross as a “community hero”.

    Big Brothers / Big Sisters stereotyping the male volunteer.

  68. Emily July 3, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

    Vince, that’s nuts. Does Big Brothers/Big Sisters really turn down requests for “Big Brothers” from single mothers seeking male role models for their daughters?

  69. James Lehman July 4, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

    Shall we mention male parents leading Girl Scout Troops? Back lash in that? I have a friend who founded a Daisy Scout Troop for his daughter and her kindergarten friends. He met with disbelief, opposition from the GSUSA, and wonderment from the other parents. The girls got dirty looking for crawdads in the stream, and the dad (a multi trained Boy Scout leader), had fun with his daughter . She is now a Venture Scout (younger brother is working on Star Rank) and dad is still teaching Boy Scout leaders how to do it.