How We Protect Our Kids & Students

The following policies are for the purpose of providing a safe environment for every child and student who attends Arbor Road Church. These policies are in place so that we can share Jesus and build trust with families. Above all, we strive to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus, never shame.

The Bible asks leaders in the church to be “above reproach” in their behaviors at home and at church (1 Timothy 3:2). In youth ministry this means that we should be protecting the students, the leaders, and the ministry as a whole in the way we interact with kids and students.

Go ahead and focus in on your specific ministry. We know that this is a lot of information and at times may seem excessive in some areas. However, we know that if each of our volunteers and staff are following the same policies, it will make our campus that much safer. Please let your Department Lead (or any other church staff member) know if you see others misusing these policies.


Kids | Early Childhood-3rd Grade

Name Tags

As parents are checking in their young children, it is important that they receive a Pickup Tag that corresponds to their child’s Name Tag

  • Each Name Tag will include the child’s
  1. Name
  2. Grade
  3. Individual Allergies / special instructions
  4. Pickup code
  • The pickup code will correspond to a separate Pickup Tag that their parents will bring when they pick up their child
  • Do not release a child to anyone without the right pickup tag
    • Even if you know the parent, we ask that you always confirm the pickup code (This code may either be a physical paper or in the form of a picture)
  • We do this to communicate our commitment to safety on our campus
  • If parents come to pick up their child and they do not have the pickup tag or a picture of it, you will need to contact Michelle Collins or Jeni Johnson to check their drivers license before you can release their child to them
  • Be aware of any allergies or medical conditions that your small group members may have
  • There may also be special pickup instructions that will be written as: Non-Custodial Issue; this might mean that only one person is allowed to pick them up
    • When you see this, please talk with your ministry’s Department Lead to get information on releasing that student when the time comes

Classroom Policies

  • Children need to be placed in age-appropriate rooms
    • This is for the safety of the children and effectiveness of the leaders in each classroom
  • During a weekly meeting, there should always be at least two adults in the room with children
    • Parents may occasionally ask to sit in on a class, but they do not count as a second adult and should only be interacting with their own children

Restroom Policies

  • Never take only one student to the restroom
  • Do not enter the restroom with a child
  • Never touch or assist children after using the restroom
    • Instruct the child verbally if necessary
  • Men will not escort girls to the restroom
  • If a child needs help with clothing after using the restroom, have them come out of the restroom and help them where others can see you

Diapering Policies

  • Only adult volunteers (18 and above) may change diapers
  • When changing a diaper, do so in plain view of another adult
  • Men may not change diapers
    • If a child’s father is present, they may change their child’s diaper

Appropriate Touch

As we work with children, our touch should have a Godly purpose. Here are some guidelines to be sure our actions remain above reproach:

Safe touch and behavior includes:

  • Patting on top of head, shoulder, or upper back
  • High-fives, knuckle bumps, hand shakes
  • Hugs are appropriate when initiated by the child
  • Age 2-5: Hug around upper shoulder
  • Kindergarten – 5th grade: Side hugs are best
  • Children age 2 and under may be picked up in the presence of another adult
  • Please do not always hold the same child

Unsafe touch and behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  • Kissing a child in any way
    • You, as a volunteer, should not ask for hugs or kisses; these also should not be forced upon the child
  • Allowing children to hang from your legs or waist
  • Allowing children who are age 3 and above sit on your lap
  • Have them stand or sit at your side
  • Hitting, spanking, pushing, pulling, kicking, shaking a child, or yanking a child by the arm
  • Pulling a child’s hair or pulling them by the ear
  • Demeaning, belittling, swearing at a child, or calling a child names
  • If you need to physically restrain a child to prevent possible physical danger, or if a child is physically harmful to him or herself, another child, or an adult, make sure another adult is in the room with you and can see what you are doing

Having private conversations with kids

  • When needing to have a private conversation with a child in early childhood or elementary school, find a fellow volunteer who can be present (in visual contact) during your meeting or conversation
  • At this age, it is not appropriate to meet with a child outside of regular church meeting times

Photographs and Social Media

  • Taking photos of students and posting them on social media is generallyappropriate when the content is edifying to the child, to you, and to the ministry as a whole
    • In special circumstances, you will be notified by the lead teacher or it will be listed in the special information section on their Name Tag; respecting these special instructions regarding photos will honor the child’s parents and safety
  • Any mobile or internet interaction with a child must always occur with parent permission and through the parent’s phone or computer account

Volunteer-Planned Off-Campus Trips or Activities

  • These types of events are not appropriate for kids at this age

Students | 4th-5th Grade

Name Tags

  • As parents are checking in their 4th or 5th grade students, it is important that they receive a Pickup Tag that corresponds to their student’s Name Tag (look for the example name tag in the previous section)
  • Each Name Tag will include the student’s
  1. Name
  2. Grade
  3. Individual Allergies / special instructions
  4. Pickup code
  • The pickup code will correspond to a separate Pickup Tag that their parents will bring when they pick up their student
  • Do not release a student to anyone without the right pickup tag
    • Even if you know the parent, we ask that you always confirm the pickup code (This code may either be a physical paper or in the form of a picture)
  • We do this to communicate our commitment to safety on our campus
  • If parents come to pick up their student and they do not have the pickup tag or a picture of it, you will need to contact your ministry’s Department Lead to check their drivers license before you can release their student to them
  • Be aware of any allergies or medical conditions that your small group members may have
  • There may also be special pickup instructions that will be written as: Non-Custodial Issue; this might mean that only one person is allowed to pick them up
    • When you see this, please talk with your ministry’s Department Lead to get information on releasing that student when the time comes

During Weekly Meetings

  • Be sure that you are keeping track of students during weekly meetings and events
  • They should not be separating from the main group, and if you see this happening ask them to rejoin the group.
    • If the student is consistently separating from the group, notify their small group leader or your ministry’s Department Lead
    • A good rule of thumb is: “once they’re here, they’re here”
    • Once a student shows up, they are our responsibility until the time our event is over
    • It is also important to know that we use our check-in information in the event of an emergency; we will want to know that all of our students are accounted for when we execute emergency procedures

Appropriate Touch

As we work with students, our behavior should have a Godly purpose. Here are some guidelines to be sure our actions remain above reproach:

Safe touch and behavior includes

  • Patting on top of head, shoulder, or upper back
  • High-fives, knuckle bumps, hand shakes
  • Hugs are appropriate when initiated by the student, we recommend side hugs at this age

Unsafe touch and behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  • Kissing a student in any way
  • You, as a volunteer leader, should not ask for hugs or kisses; these also should not be forced upon the child
  • Allowing students to hang from your legs or waist
  • Allowing students to sit on your lap
  • Have them stand or sit at your side
  • Hitting, spanking, pushing, pulling, kicking, shaking a student, or yanking a student by the arm
  • Pulling a student’s hair or pulling them by the ear
  • Demeaning, belittling, swearing at a student, or calling them names
  • If you need to physically restrain a student to prevent possible physical danger, or if they are physically harmful to themselves, another student, or an adult, make sure another adult is in the room with you and can see what you are doing

Having private conversations with students

  • When needing to have a private conversation with a student in 4th or 5th grade, find a fellow volunteer who can be present (in visual contact) during your meeting or conversation
  • At this age, it is not appropriate to have one on one meetings with a student

Photographs & Social Media

  • Taking photos of students and posting them on social media is     generally appropriate when the content is edifying to the student, to you, and to the ministry as a whole
    • In special circumstances, you will be notified by the lead teacher or it will be listed in the special information section on their Name Tag; respecting these special instructions regarding photos will honor the child’s parents and safety
  • Platforms such as Instagram© and Facebook© that have public profiles are safe for interacting with students as long as those interactions remain in the public view of others, i.e. posting on their public profile

Mobile Communication

  • Any mobile communication or texting with a student in 4th or 5th grade must always occur with parent permission and through the parent’s phone or internet account

Best Practices

Use discernment when using any form of mobile communication or social media

Social Media

  • If you choose to use platforms that delete content automatically:
  • It is wise to always send group messages and even include another leader or another student on the messages
  • These platforms could be especially dangerous in the event someone is accused of suspicious interactions with a student
  • It is not required, but for some leaders it is simply easier not to connect with students or students of the opposite gender on social media platforms
    • We encourage each leader to consider what is best for them to remain above reproach and focused on great ministry

Volunteer-Planned Off-Campus Trips or Activities

Planning

  • All trips, overnighters, or activities either on or off campus should be communicated to your Department Lead and to your students’ parents
  • With groups of both boys and girls, there must be both men and women leaders present at all times
  • With groups of only one gender, leaders of the opposite gender should not attend
  • These events should always include one parent, who is not a small group leader

Transportation

  • The student’s parents must drop them off and pick them up from the event location

Overnight Events

  • Overnight events are not appropriate with students at this stage

Students | Middle School & High School

Check In

Middle School and High School students are not required to have a Name Tag, and it is more common for them to check themselves into weekly meetings and planned events

During Weekly Meetings

  • Be sure that you are keeping track of students during weekly meetings and events
  • They should not be separating from the main group, and if you see this happening ask them to rejoin the group
    • If the student is consistently separating from the group, notify their small group leader or your ministry’s Department Lead
    • A good rule of thumb is: “once they’re here, they’re here”
    • Once a student shows up, they are our responsibility until the time our event is over
    • It is also important to know that we use our check-in information in the event of an emergency; we will want to know that all of our students are accounted for when we execute emergency procedures
  • After Wednesday night meetings and other events, students will almost always be picked up at the end of the Breezeway near the East Parking Lot
    • There must be at least 2 volunteers or staff members waiting with students until the last student is picked up
  • Sunday meetings end at 12pm, and Wednesday meetings end at 8:15pm
    • If a student has a fixed schedule that might require them to leave early, be sure to hear from the parent – in person or on the phone – before you let them leave

Appropriate Behavior with Students

As we work with students, our behavior should have a Godly purpose. Here are some guidelines to be sure our actions remain above reproach:

  • At this age, side hugs are recommended
  • Leaders may not be alone with the opposite gender; this is to protect our ministry at Arbor Road, protect you and the student from any appearance of romantic relationship, and to build trust with parents
  • We ask that you also be aware of same-sex attraction; be sure to guard the students’ hearts as well as keep their and your safety in mind

Social Media & Mobile Communication

The following are our Policies as well as Best Practices regarding Mobile Communication and Social Media between students attending and leaders serving in Middle School and High School Ministries. Our goal with these policies is to protect the students in our ministry, as well as protect leaders from inappropriate behavior, so that we can keep our focus on knowing God and making Him known.

Policies

Social Media

  • Taking photos of students and posting them on social media is generallyappropriate when the content is edifying to the student, to you, and to the ministry as a whole
  • Platforms such as Instagram© and Facebook© that have public profiles are safe for interacting with students as long as those interactions remain in the public view of others (i.e posting on their public profile)

Mobile Communication

  • Texting and other mobile communication with students is generally appropriate between students and leaders of the same gender
  • Texting and other mobile communication with students of the opposite gender is generally appropriate when an event or service opportunity requires it
    • Example: A male volunteer is scheduling an event or service opportunity for students, and knows one of the girl students can help
  • When any mobile or Internet interaction with a student becomes inappropriate, notify your Department Lead immediately and include screenshots with the content of the conversation
    • We want to keep all interactions in the light in order to continue to protect the student and the leader

Best Practices

Use discernment when using any form of mobile communication or social media

Social Media

  • If you choose to use platforms that delete content automatically:
  • It is wise to always send group messages and even include another leader or another student on the messages
  • These platforms could be especially dangerous in the event someone is accused of suspicious interactions with a student
  • It is not required, but for some leaders it is simply easier not to connect with students or students of the opposite gender on social media platforms
    • We encourage each leader to consider what is best for them to remain above reproach and focused on great ministry

Mobile Communication

  • When communicating with a student of the opposite gender for an event or service opportunity:
  • It is best to send messages as a group text
  • In the event that a student of the opposite gender contacts you privately
  • Reply back on the group thread
    • If they contact you again privately, ask them to keep the conversation in the group thread
    • If they continue to contact you privately, notify your ministry’s Department Lead; they will be able to provide direction from there

Volunteer-Planned Off-Campus Trips or Activities

Planning

  • All trips, overnighters, or activities either on-or off-campus should be communicated to your Department Lead and to your students’ parents
  • With groups of both boys and girls, there must be both men and women leaders present at all times
  • With groups of only one gender, leaders of the opposite gender should not attend

Transportation

  • When transporting students, seat belts are required for all passengers
  • If you have to transport a student of the opposite gender, be sure to take another leader of the opposite gender with you
  • At the end of an off-campus event, never leave a student unsupervised
  • There must be at least 2 leaders present (one of which must be the same gender as the child)

Overnight Events

  • Students and leaders must be the same gender, and students or leaders of the opposite gender may not attend
  • Discuss with your ministry’s Department Lead before you make plans
  • Have a parent partner with you in planning the event
    • A best practice for these events would be to have the event at that parent’s home
  • Be sure that two leaders can be present, one of which may be the parent
  • Leaders of these events must talk directly with a parent of each student (either on the phone or in person)