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Preventing Sexual Misconduct in Sunday School and Small Groups

Posted: 3/4/19 at 10:40am. Post by Tony Brooks.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5 NIV)

Over the last couple of weeks, we have heard much about sexual misconduct in churches and cover-ups by denominations. How is your church prepared with boundaries to keep this from happening in Sunday School and small groups? What do you do when it happens? Here are some thoughts:

Education starts the process! What is sexual harassment? What is abuse? How do we report an accusation? Your church’s insurance company should be able to help answer these questions. Church Mutual Insurance has great resources to help: https://www.churchmutual.com/98/Safety-Resources Insurance companies will often give you better rates as well, when you follow their protocol.

How do you ensure the safest environment?

  • Any Sunday School class or small group of students from birth through age 18 must have two unrelated adults in the room at all times. It is not that we don’t trust a 30-year veteran of teaching children; it is the perception as well as the risk. Find volunteers to be in the room. They don’t have to teach, but they can be a presence and get to know each person.
  • Run criminal background checks on all volunteers working with minors. I know that this may seem to be a hassle for some who have been teaching for years. Your local police department can do this background check at a reasonable price, and it must happen. Help them see it is not about them; it is to assure all parents that their children/youth are in a safe place.

Have classrooms with windows or leave the door open. There needs to be a way for parents to know their children/youth are safe in your classroom.

Lock exterior doors near children and youth during Sunday School and worship. This should be self-explanatory. We don’t need strangers walking in during this time.

Report any accusations. Call your Field Strategist at the BGAV if you need help knowing what to do. We cannot allow sexual misconduct/harassment to happen. We are called to be a light, and we can’t be the light unless we are willing to step into the darkness and deal with issues like this one. Contact me at tony.brooks@bgav.org if you have questions.

Brooks-TonyTony Brooks is our Sunday School/Discipleship Specialist and Field Strategist for the Southside Region. You may email him at tony.brooks@bgav.org. Follow Tony on Twitter: @TonyBrooks7