Safe sanctuary sermons are polices that safeguard children from abuse and neglect from the clergy. Due to the global exposure of the catholic clergy molesting children under the guise of the priesthood, churches across most denominations have enacted policies that protect children and youth from unsupervised interaction with men of the cloth.
The initial act is to acquire workers, volunteers and ordained clergy from a pool of screened candidates. Background checks are completed from the pool of candidates for sexual predators, inappropriate interactions with children and general background review. The theory being, that if the right type of candidate is recruited, this will lessen the risk of abuse for the children.
After the worker has passed the background check they are required to sign a contract stating they understand the limitations of time spent with the children. They will undergo a training program that outlines proper settings and interactions with the children and youth of their faith community.
These standards of conduct include the two adult rules. What this states is that no adult may have one on one time alone with a child or youth. This is a twofold safety procedure. It protects the adult from being accused of something they did not do and it protects the child from an abusive adult.
For overnight stays, at least two adults need to be present and should bunk in an adjoining room. The overnight stay should have more than two children present and they are not to be divided among the rooms. If it is not possible for the adults to stay in another room, then both adults must bunk with the children.
If the parish offers schooling there should be windows and windows on doors in all of the classrooms. No barrier should restrict full view of the room from the window. If a teacher or other classroom instructor does not have a second adult in the classroom, this easy access of viewing will allow the superintendent or principal to frequently inspect the goings on in the classroom instruction.
Five years rule. This is a rule that states no worker should be less than five years older than the students they are instructing.
Pre advance notice of activities and events is recommended to give parents the opportunity to attend. A permission slip granting the child’s permission is needed for any overnight stay or off grounds activities/events. This will allow the parent to either accompany their child or pre-advise their child on proper conduct.
If an individual witnesses an adult violating one of these policies, they have a specific obligation to report it. In some cases, their knowledge of an incident and not reporting it may lead to legal complications for them, but it is very clear that if they do intervene and no misconduct is proven, they are not liable for any type of damages.
Safe sanctuary sermons have been established across denominations to protect children and youth from abuse/neglect of the clergy or other church workers. In addition to protecting children, safe sanctuary sermons also protect adults that are responsible for the care of children.
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