Help leaders learn how to help kids feel safe in their environment.
Kids need to feel safe. Children need to know that in addition to being safe, they need to have a place to share what is going on in their world. In this session you will learn how to create a culture of acceptance for kids to grow in their faith, and how to create a safe place for conflict to be dealt with in a professional and godly way.
Assignment 1 // Read 2 Timothy 3:16, Proverbs 11:13, Ephesians 4:15.and answer the questions.
Assignment 2 // Read Chapter 2 in the book Lead Small , by Reggie Joiner and Tom Shefchunas.
Assignment 3 // Read “How To React When Unsafe Situations are Presented to You” and answer the questions.
Take a look at these passages that talk about the importance of being both a person who honors truth and the role of scripture in leading others. When we create safe places for kids and youth to share both their struggles and their questions about God, we create a healthy place for everyone to grow in Christ and in community. As you read these passages, look for ways and reasons why scripture is important, and what role you could play in making a safe environment around you.
2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
Proverbs 11:13 (NIV)
13 A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Read 2 Timothy 3:16. What is the role of scripture in our lives? How can you do each of those things in your small group in a way that makes them feel heard and safe?
When you read Proverbs 11:13, what do you learn about gossip? How would gossip affect your small group? What are ways that you can prevent it?
Ephesians 4:15 highlights a critical part of creating a safe environment with those that you lead. How are we to speak the truth? How can you foster that type of environment with those you are serving?
Read Chapter 2 in the book Lead Small , by Reggie Joiner and Tom Shefchunas (pp. 47-79)
Leading a group of individuals can be a difficult thing. Some will be an open book and want to share every detail with you or a group. Others will be closed off and it will take time before they feel that they can share. Gossip is something that can surface in a group setting. Sharing can go quickly from a prayer request to talking about someone else in a negative manner.
- Write down a time that you have felt accepted. How did that make you feel? How did you feel during a time in your life when you were not accepted? How can you create an atmosphere in your group that is one of acceptance?
- What are ways that you can redirect in a loving way when someone in your group starts to gossip, intentionally or unintentionally? Remember, we want to be sure to create a space where they feel comfortable with sharing, but also one that they know that is safe for them to talk about what is going on in their lives without worrying if everyone will gossip about them.
“How To React When Unsafe Situations are Presented to You”
From our Eastside NextGen policy:
**Confidentiality is critical to creating a safe environment. However, there are times when we need to share what we learned with a trusted staff person who oversees your area if someone in your group is being hurt by someone, is hurting others, or is hurting themselves . How we deal with situations like these are critical in maintaining a safe environment. It is a priority that kids can feel free to share things that they are going through, and still get the help that they may need.
If anything concerning comes up in your area of ministry, take it directly to your staff supervisor immediately. Time is of the essence so it’s critical that you report to your staff supervisor right away, not later that day or week. As a leader with children, you are our eyes and ears.
We need you to help us recognize children or students who are hurting.
Remember, YOU, as a volunteer, are not a mandated reporter, but our church is. You just notice things and let us know.
Pick Up At The End Of Service For Kidside:
Remember, for kids birth-5th grade, we don’t release them to anyone if they don’t have their pick up claim tag. If someone has lost their pick up tag, immediately let your staff supervisor know, and they will help assist the check out. Sometimes there are court orders that say someone can’t pick up a child so you can’t release a child to someone without a claim tag, even if the child claims to know that person. If there is a situation of a court order not allowing someone specific to pick up a child, the admin who checks out the children will know, and security will know. That is why it is so important for parents to pick up with their claim tag in order to keep our kids safe and secure.
In the case of bullying, or if they are having serious conflict with siblings, here are some questions you could ask the child/student:
Do your parents know about this?
How often does this happen, did you talk to your teachers about this? In this situation it’s still good mention to it your staff supervisor so that they are aware.
Child Abuse and Physical Abuse
In the case of child abuse, a child might tell you that something inappropriate happened to them, or they may share things that could be interpreted as strange or concerning. They could also tell you that there are modesty or sexual boundaries that are upsetting, for example, that they are being shown pornography. They may share something that is being done that is a red flag. If you are not sure, or think that it could be an area that is a red flag, please tell your staff supervisor immediately. It’s not your responsibility to get all of the information and to find out everything that you can from the child. Let your staff supervisor handle that.
In the case of any physical abuse, which is a non-accidental injury, some possible things to look out for are physical harm that has left marks, broken bones, bruising, shaking of babies, cuts, burns, or unexplained patterns of injury. Again, mention it THAT day to your staff supervisor if you notice something that is concerning or questionable to you. With younger children they may not be able to verbally tell you what is happening to them, instead it could be things that you are observing and information that you are gathering.
Any sexual exploitation of a child is known as sexual abuse. In the case of sexual abuse it will most likely be a child/student telling you that something is happening to them. If they tell you anything that is concerning and could be sexual abuse, immediately let your staff supervisor know.
Neglect is the failure to provide for a child his or her basic needs, or a form of abandonment. This could include not providing basic shelter, food, basic needs, education, and medical care needs. In the case of neglect, some signs that you may notice could be they say they never have any food, look unkempt, have lice, are unsanitary, or have bad hygiene. Remember some of these could be lack of resources and that could be a reason, so let us know and we can see if it is a lack of resources or unclear.
In the case of emotional/psychological abuse, this is a pattern of behavior that attacks a child’s emotional development and sense of self-worth. Criticizing, insulting, or manipulating a child could fall under this form of abuses. This could also appear to be a lack of providing love, support, or guidance. Be aware of what you hear, especially if you see it consistently. If you think there might be signs of this type of abuse, let your staff supervisor know immediately.
In the case of a child that you suspect may be suicidal, immediately alert your staff supervisor. In the case of a child who is showing signs of self- harm or harming others, first have a response that promotes safety. Validate their feelings and then redirect it to say let’s talk about this some more right now. If you were in the middle of an event or leading a group, find someone to fill in for you if possible and go with them immediately to your staff supervisor.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 15-24. As we serve our students, understanding how to work with a teen with suicidal tendencies must be a requirement.
1. Withdrawal from family, peers and significant others
2. Self-destructive behaviors such as drug or alcohol use, sexual promiscuity, eating disorders
3. Loss of a a family member, friend, girlfriend, or boyfriend, or trouble in school
Methods to Analyze Suicidal Risk
1. Be attentive and listen for phrases such as: “I don’t think I can do this anymore.”; “I’m just so tired, I just want to give up”; “I don’t think anyone would notice if I weren’t around.”
2. Knowing a student’s background history with mental health issues, such as depression, or a personality disorder, or additionally, any substance abuse problems will help you as a leader be aware of their fragilities. These students would be at a higher risk for self-harm or suicide.
3. Students who have a plan, especially a very detailed strategy to harm themselves, are at a higher risk of carrying out a plan.
4. Students who have had prior suicidal ideation or attempted to harm themselves, are at an especially higher risk of current or future self-harm. Ask thoughtful questions to determine this.
Both for the safety of our students, and for your own legal responsibility, treat every suicidal sign or threat with both seriousness and urgency.
Contact your staff supervisor ASAP regarding the issue. From this point on, we will take the necessary steps, which may include your involvement if it is appropriate in the situation.
Children/Students in Crisis
How to Report Suspected Child Abuse, Our Eastside NextGen Policy
If a volunteer suspects child abuse of a child or student, the following steps are to be followed:
1. Report the suspected abuse immediately to your paid staff supervisor.
2. Please note the following:
a. Do not interview the child/student regarding suspected abuse. The interview process will be handled by trained personnel.
b. Do not discuss the suspected abuse. All information regarding the suspected abuse is confidential.
3. Volunteers reporting suspected child abuse may be asked to help complete
a Suspected Child Abuse Form with a paid Kidside, JHM, or HSM staff member. Confidentiality will be maintained where possible.
4. Once a suspected child abuse case has been reported to Eastside by a volunteer, steps will be taken to report is to the designated reporting agency. Do not report the incident on your own.
Preventing Allegations of Child Abuse In Kidside, Our Kidside Policy
The following precautions are in place to prevent allegations of child abuse:
- All volunteers, including substitutes, must complete the Next Gen Application process. During the application process, applicants may observe but not participate in children’s activities. You will be notified in advance if a potential volunteer will be observing in your class.
- Every group of children must have at least two volunteers present at all times. At least one volunteer must be an adult.
- Volunteers may never take one child alone to the restroom.
- Doors must always remain unlocked when activities are occurring.
- All activities outside the normally planned Kidside calendar must be approved by the Kidside Department.
- At no time may a volunteer take a child or children on any activity alone.
- You have the right to question anyone who enters the classroom without proper I.D. Anyone who wishes to visit on a frequent basis must complete theNext Gen application process.
Preventing Allegations of Child Abuse in JHM and HSM: From our JHM/HSM policy
The following precautions are in place to prevent allegations of child abuse:
All volunteers, must complete the NextGen Application process.
Use proper judgement when having physical contact with a child.
All activities outside the normally planned JHM or HSM schedule must be approved by that department.
If meeting with a student one-on-one, all interaction must be done in a public setting.
You have the right to question anyone who enters the Student Center without proper I.D. Anyone who wishes to visit on a frequent basis must complete the Next Gen application process.
1. What are some loving ways you can say to someone in your group that you need to talk to them about what they expressed without other group members present? How are you going to maintain confidentiality in your group?
What questions did this module raise about creating a safe space for a student or child?
Where have you seen creating a safe space be a strength and/or a weakness in your area of responsibility?
What are some action steps that you need to take in order to more effectively create safety with students, kids and parents?
What other takeaways do you have from reading this section?