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SAFE SANCTUARIES:
ABUSE RISK REDUCTION AND PREVENTION POLICY

First United Methodist Church, Corvallis, Oregon
October 2014

PURPOSE & SCOPE

Our hope and belief today is that the church is a place where all
people will find the unconditional love and care they so desperately
need to grow and thrive. But, we know that abuse occurs in churches,
large and small, urban and rural. It is a reality which cuts across
all economic, cultural, and racial lines. In April 1996, the General
Conference of The United Methodist Church adopted a resolution aimed
at reducing the risk of abuse of children, youth, and vulnerable
adults in the church. It was renewed by the 2004 General Conference
(Resolution 65, “Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse in Churches,
pg. 201, 2004 Book of Resolutions).

As Christians we must take our responsibilities to our children, youth,
and vulnerable adults very seriously. While policies alone may not be
able to completely prevent all harm, sexual abuse can be prevented.
We as the people of Corvallis First United Methodist Church (CFUMC)
are dedicated to preventing child abuse within our ministry and within
our community.

DEFINITIONS

  • Abuse: intentional, negligent, or reckless behavior
    by a volunteer or staff person that is harmful, injurious, or
    offensive. Abuse takes many forms and includes, but is not limited
    to: physical abuse, neglect, self-neglect, abandonment, verbal
    and emotional abuse, financial exploitation, sexual abuse,
    involuntary seclusion, and wrongful restraint.
  • Child Abuse: an act committed by a stranger, a
    parent, a caregiver, or a person in a position of trust, which
    is not accidental and which harms or threatens a child’s physical
    or mental health or a child’s welfare.
  • Physical Abuse: when an adult injures a child
    other than by accident; including, but not limited to: assault,
    battery, shaking, slapping, burning, scalding, kicking and
    strangling.
  • Sexual Abuse:
    1. any sexual contact or sexually explicit behavior
      initiated by an adult, youth or child toward a child;
    2. any sexual contact or sexually explicit sexual behavior
      initiated by an adult toward a youth;
    3. any nonconsensual sexual contact or nonconsensual sexually
      explicit behavior initiated by a youth toward another
      youth including, but not limited to sexual harassment and
      any sexual behavior by a youth toward another youth younger
      than 14 and where the initiating youth is three years older;
    4. any sexual contact by anyone toward a vulnerable adult, or
      sexually explicit behavior by anyone toward a vulnerable
      adult where the vulnerable adult is unable to provide
      meaningful consent;
    5. any nonconsensual sexual contact or nonconsensual behavior
      by an adult toward another adult.
  • Emotional Abuse: verbal assault or emotional cruelty
  • Adult: a person 18 years old or older
  • Activities: any activity or programs in which children,
    youth, or vulnerable adult are under supervision of staff persons
    or volunteers.
  • Background Checks: researching references and records
    for indications of past or potential abusive and/or criminal activity.
  • Child: person from birth until they turn 12 years old.
  • Conference: The Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference of
    The United Methodist Church.
  • Person-in-Charge [hereinafter, PIC]: staff person
    or volunteer who is the person responsible for the event or activity.
  • Prevention and Risk Reduction: Risk Reduction
    measures are those actions taken to lessen opportunity for sexual
    assault. Most policies focus exclusively on risk reduction, and do
    very little to prevent sexual abuse in the broader community.
    CFUMC is committed not only to lessening risk within congregational
    facilities and the activities, but CFUMC is also committed to
    prevention of abuse by transformational ministry to survivors,
    justice and equity ministry, and social change. CFUMC recognizes
    that understanding the difference between Prevention and Risk
    Reduction is an important step in developing effective Prevention
    strategy.
  • Sexual Contact: means any touching of the sexual
    or other intimate parts of a person or causing such person to touch
    the sexual or other intimate parts of the actor for the purpose of
    arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of either party. Regarding
    children, youth, and vulnerable adults, Sexual Contact herein
    includes, but is not limited to kissing, hugging, massaging,
    rubbing, blowing on or breathing on, and other touching with any
    intent by anyone to sexually arouse any person. CFUMC reserves
    the right to evaluate such behaviors and provide guidelines to
    prevent abuse and protect persons.
  • Sexually Explicit Behavior: means actual or
    simulated behavior and remains a common form of harassment and
    abuse. It includes but is not limited to: words, gestures,
    sexting and media representations of sexual activity, jokes,
    nudity or partial nudity, and other behaviors.
  • Staff person: any person employed by the local
    ministry setting that is responsible for activities involving
    children, youth, or vulnerable adults.
  • Volunteer: a person who assists in conducting
    activities under the supervision of person(s) in charge.
  • Vulnerable Adults: any persons over the age of
    18 who possesses a physical or mental disability or dysfunction
    that impairs the individual’s ability to provide adequately for
    the individual’s own care without assistance, including but not
    limited to: a) the inability to independently or effectively
    communicate, and/or b) the ability to independently remove
    oneself from a situation, location or another’s presence,
    and/or c) the inability to comprehend initiation or perpetration
    of abusive sexual behavior or physical mistreatment upon the
    individual’s person by another, and/or d) because of the
    dysfunction or infirmity, the individual has an impaired
    ability to protect the individual’s self from maltreatment.
  • We: CFUMC
  • Youth: any person 12 years old to his/her
    18th birthday.

PROHIBITION OF ABUSE AT CFUMC

CFUMC prohibits abuse as defined herein in all forms by anyone
who is:

  1. within the facilities of CFUMC;
  2. at any and all events sponsored by CFUMC;
  3. a staff member of CFUMC;
  4. a member of CFUMC;
  5. a contractor working on behalf of CFUMC;
  6. a member of a group which leases or uses the name, facility,
    or the ministries of CFUMC.

CFUMC supports all persons connected to the ministry and the
surrounding community in seeking to engage in healthy relationships,
including healthy parent-child and healthy intimate partner
relationships. Further, CFUMC is committed to equipping all persons
connected to the ministry and the surrounding community to be
aware of, to prevent, and to resist abusive behavior in all forms
through prayer, spiritual growth, words, and action.

ABUSE AWARENESS AND PREVENTION AT CFUMC

  1. CFUMC shall annually designate one Sunday on which abuse
    awareness and abuse prevention are incorporated into the worship
    experience. The District Superintendent’s office shall be
    notified as to when this service has taken place.
  2. CFUMC shall annually offer an educational opportunity on
    abuse prevention.
  3. CFUMC shall offer opportunities for survivors of sexual abuse
    to find healing and support in the context of CFUMC’s ministry.
    CFUMC will provide local listings of available, competent
    community resources for survivors when needed.

RISK REDUCTION: SCREENING PROCEDURES

  1. All staff persons, and any volunteers of CFUMC who have
    regular and direct contact with children, youth, and
    vulnerable adults and/or act to lead worship or represent
    the church in an ongoing, official capacity shall be required
    to complete an application including disclosure of information
    including legal name and other names previously used, date of
    birth, and voluntary disclosure of any convictions of abusive
    behavior.
  2. All staff persons, and any volunteers of CFUMC who have regular
    and direct contact with children, youth, and vulnerable adults
    and/or act to lead worship or represent CFUMC in an ongoing,
    official capacity shall be required to:

    1. Furnish two references (from persons unrelated to
      applicant) on an application form, and
    2. Complete a State and/or National criminal background
      check.
  3. The reviewing body responsible for overseeing the screening
    process is CFUMC’s Personnel Ministry Team (PMT).

    1. CFUMC’s PMT is responsible for review and approval of
      each application before a person’s service begins.
    2. The screening procedure for each individual shall be
      repeated every five years.
    3. All records are confidential and will be maintained in
      a safe, secure place to ensure confidentiality. The
      records should be maintained for a period of 50 years.
      CFUMC will not knowingly hire anyone with a history of
      committing sexual abuse on any child, youth, or vulnerable
      adult.
    4. CFUMC will communicate this abuse prevention policy to
      outside groups/organizations using the facilities and
      receive written receipt signed by the key contact with
      the outside group acknowledging the policy and accepting
      responsibility to comply with the screening, supervision,
      and reporting/response requirements of this policy.
    5. CFUMC will require outside groups using the facilities
      to sign a waiver and release stating CFUMC accepts no civil
      or criminal liability resulting from any incident of child
      abuse or sexual misconduct/sexual abuse which takes place
      under the auspices of an outside organization/group using
      the local ministry setting facilities.

RISK REDUCTION: TRAINING AND SUPERVISION

  1. CFUMC requires training for all persons having direct contact
    with children, youth, and vulnerable adults. Training shall include
    an annual orientation that includes information about the local
    ministry setting abuse prevention policy. Paid staff who are
    required to attend these trainings should be compensated for their
    time.
  2. Our standard practice is that all children, youth, and vulnerable
    adults will be supervised by at least 2 unrelated adults and that
    no adult will be alone with children, youth, or vulnerable
    adult(s) out of sight of other adults. The minimum standard is
    an open space (open door, window, etc) such that activities can
    be observed and an adult who is assigned to periodically observe
    the activities.
  3. No person shall supervise any age group of children or youth unless
    he/she is AT LEAST 5 years older than the children or youth.
  4. The PIC [see Definitions] will be responsible for adherence to the
    Supervision requirements herein.

REPORTING AND RESPONSE TO INCIDENT/ALLEGATION

  1. CFUMC requires immediate and specific response to allegations
    of abuse:

    1. within the facilities of CFUMC; or
    2. at any and all events sponsored by CFUMC; or
    3. if the adult who observed the abuse is a current staff
      member of CFUMC.
  2. Any adult who observes or hears of alleged abuse which falls under
    conditions described herein [see number 1, a, b, or c, immediately
    above] shall:

    1. Assure the safety of the victim.
      1. Whatever the victim says is to be taken very
        seriously.
      2. Make sure that the victim is in a safe place and
        watched over.
      3. Do not confront the accused abuser with anger or
        hostility but immediately remove him/ her from
        further involvement with children and youth until
        the matter can be investigated.
    2. Call the police at 911, if there is a situation of
      immediate risk.
    3. Report the incident immediately to the pastor (unless
      implicated in the allegation or unavailable) and/or the
      Person in Charge (unless implicated in the allegation).
      Contact the appropriate authorities (if the adult witness is
      designated as a “mandated or mandatory reporter” by state or
      federal law).
  3. The pastor or designee shall:
    1. Ascertain the general details needed to make an accurate
      report.
    2. Within 24 hours, write an incident report. The report should
      include the following information, if obtainable:

      1. The name, address, age and sex of the alleged victim;
      2. The name and address of the alleged victim’s parents
        or other person responsible for his/her care;
      3. The nature and extent of the alleged abuse or neglect;
      4. Any evidence of previously known or suspected abuse or
        neglect of the alleged victim or their siblings;
      5. The name, address and relationship, if known, of the
        person who is alleged to have perpetrated the abuse or
        neglect; and
      6. Any other information known to the person making the
        report that would be helpful to the investigation of
        the alleged abuse.
    3. Contact the appropriate State or law enforcement agency as
      soon as possible to file the abuse report and provide the
      aforementioned information and follow the instructions of the
      agency.
    4. Report the suspected child abuse to the child’s family (unless
      implicated in the allegation) and any agencies required by
      law.
    5. Report the suspected abuse to a District Superintendent of the
      Annual Conference within 24 hours of the initial report.
  4. A single organizational leader will be designated as spokesperson
    following notice of any abuse or molestation in connection with activities
    of the ministry. This spokesperson will be the only person to convey
    information concerning the situation. To avoid compromising the investigation,
    the spokesperson will convey only such information as is necessary
    under the circumstances.
  5. The alleged perpetrators of the abuse are to be excluded from future
    events involving children, youth and adults until the incident report
    is resolved. In any removal of a person from any activities, care must
    be taken to handle this in a discreet manner, recognizing that an
    investigation is being conducted.
  6. Any person who is found guilty of alleged abuse or molestation will
    be removed from work with children, youth or adults within the
    organization.

ANNUAL EMPLOYEE/VOILUNTEER REVIEWS

  1. All employees, supervisors, leaders, and volunteers to whom these
    policies and procedures apply shall reread them annually and sign
    their names that they have done so.
  2. All ministry employees will complete a brief renewal application
    once each year (Form #4). A renewal application will also be
    completed annually by all volunteer workers associated with the
    organization who will be working in any capacity with children,
    youth and vulnerable adults.
  3. New information indicating that a candidate has a history of sexual
    abuse of any children, youth, or adult or otherwise poses a threat
    to others will result in the immediate removal of the individual
    from a ministry position.

POLICY REVIEW AND DISTRICT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

This abuse prevention policy will be reviewed annually at the charge
or church conference. The reviewing body will include CFUMC’s PMT.
An electronic copy or written copy of the policy will be provided
each year to the District office.

CONCLUSION

In all of our ministries we are committed to demonstrating the love of
Jesus Christ so that each child, youth, and vulnerable adult is
“surrounded by steadfast love…established in the faith, and confirmed
and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal” (Baptismal
Covenant II, United Methodist Hymnal, pg 44).

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