Safe Congregation Policy
Adopted by the Board of Trustees on March 14, 2008
Physical, emotional and sexual safety is necessary for learning and growth. Although our Unitarian Universalist Principles guide us to justice, clear requirements and procedures elevate the level of trust and professionalism in our ministries. By clearly stating procedures to prevent harm, respond to the disclosure of harm and deal fairly with one another, Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (KUUF) seeks to ensure the safety of the children, youth and adults of our religious community.
The following procedures should be followed to protect the physical, emotional and sexual safety of children and youth in our care. To avoid misunderstanding, the RE Director and Committee will develop a list of safety rules and provide families with a copy.
A copy of any formal accident report will be sent to BHK.
General Guidelines for Teachers and Childcare Providers
- The KUUF R.E. Committee will plan for proper ratios of adults to children when making class size decisions and curriculum choices. Ideally, two adults should be present at all times with children.
- Teachers and child care providers will follow positive discipline guidelines to be developed by the RE Committee. If teachers or child care providers are unable to maintain safety and a positive learning environment using these guidelines, the parents of the child will be asked to come upstairs to help.
- The KUUF R.E. Committee will establish criteria for drivers.
- Teachers and child care providers will ensure that age appropriate playthings and materials are used. They will safeguard BHK property and facilities and report any damage to the RE Director, the Minister and/or the Board President.
Physical Safety of Children and Youth
- In order to protect the physical safety of children, the KUUF Religious Education (RE) Committee will examine the BHK emergency procedures for response to fire and other emergencies. Where the Committee finds these policies inadequate they will write additional ones. The RE Director will arrange with the Minister for the periodic practice of evacuation and communication drills.
- The RE Director will collect and maintain registration forms for each child regularly in our care. Forms will include: emergency contact information, permission to transport for and seek medical care, permission to transport for RE activities, and individuals other than parents to whom the child(ren) may be released.
- The KUUF RE Committee will examine the First Aid and Emergency Response kits which are available (i.e. the ones that BHK supplies) in the child care classrooms, large motor skills room, and general meeting areas. Where the Committee finds these kits inadequate they will ask for the supplies and materials to create adequate First Aid and Response Kits.
- Teachers and child care providers will inspect facilities for safety hazards before they are used.
- Teachers and child care providers will adopt Universal Precaution Procedures for the handling of potentially infectious materials.
- The KUUF Board of Trustees, the R.E. Director, or the Minister will document accidents and incidents, including the response and plan for future prevention.
- The KUUF Board of Trustees will review legal responsibilities regarding personal safety and equipment and property; and how claims are handled for accidents (vehicular, play area, outdoors, meeting rooms.)
Selection and Management of Teaching and Childcare Volunteers
In order to assure the most trustworthy members are caring for and teaching the children of our Congregation, the RE Committee and Director will adhere to the following procedures regarding volunteer and staff management:
- Religious Education Volunteers should be active in the Congregation for six months before working with children.
- Each year adult staff and volunteers will sign the UUA Code of Ethics for Adults Working with Children and Youth. They will also disclose any formal charges of child abuse or violent offense.
- Volunteers for mentoring roles must provide references and have a screening interview with the Minister. They will sign a consent for a criminal background check, driving record, and child abuse history.
- Volunteers will attend training, provided by the RE Committee and Director in: The Safe
Child Policy, Ethics of Sexual Abuse, Mandatory Reporting Procedures and Response to Disclosure of Abuse, Emergency Procedures, Universal Precautions, positive discipline strategies, the year’s curricula and RE program plans.
- The KUUF Minister will establish where and by whom files will be maintained and how they will be safeguarded for confidentiality regarding: voluntary disclosure statements, consent for and results of criminal background checks, driving records, child abuse history, reference checks, accident and incident reports, and documentation of disclosures of abuse.
3. Policy Regarding Disruptive Behavior
We, the members and friends of the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, are a caring community where mutual respect prevails. We believe in the democratic process in human relations. Each committee/organization is encouraged to adopt and agree to ground rules for their meetings/events, including Sunday services. When some participants in these meetings/events do not follow the rules, some policy is needed. Therefore a five step process has been proposed to deal with these problems of unacceptable behavior.
- Disruptive behavior does not need to be tolerated by a committee/organization, or those attending a Sunday service. When it occurs, a member of the leadership should draw the disruptive person aside and state that the behavior is not acceptable.
- If a second complaint about the behavior occurs, a formal letter will be written by the appropriate leader to the person, stating that the behavior needs to be corrected, with copies to the Fellowship President, who will forward copies to the Board of Trustees. The letter should state that if the individual chooses to do so he/she can request that the Board mediate the dispute. The individual needs to state the problem to the Board in writing.
- The Board will discuss the problem and assign a member(s) to meet with the person and the committee/organization leadership to resolve the problem.
- If, after making all reasonable attempts and consulting with the Board of Trustees, the problems seem unresolvable, the leadership of the complaining committee/organization should request the Board’s permission to deny the person access to the committee/organization’s meetings/events.
- If, in time, the person reconsiders and wishes to reenter the group, they s(he)may meet with the leadership of the committee/organization to request reentry, subject to Board approval.
In some situations immediate action is warranted and should be taken. It is appropriate for anyone to call the police to remove a person exhibiting physically threatening or violent behavior. The five above steps may be accelerated if the behavior is threatening
4. Responding to the Disclosure of Harm
- All complaints shall be given prompt and fair consideration. People presenting complaints shall be free of discrimination or reprisal.
- A complaint can be made verbally or in writing to any member of the Committee on Ministry. That member will then contact the Chair, who will arrange for the Committee to meet. Except under extenuating circumstances, the Committee will meet within ten days of the complaint, and will address the complaint within ten days of that meeting. (At any point, the Committee may determine that the Committee is not the appropriate body to address or deal with the complaint.)
- The Committee on Ministry will endeavor to act with sensitivity, objectivity and with fairness. Decisions will reflect a quorum of the Committee members and the Minister or, in the case of a complaint about the Minister, the Board Chair.
- If the Committee indicates disciplinary action toward the offender, that recommendation will go to the Board of Trustees. If not, the Committee can close the complaint process.
- A written record will be kept using a standard form developed by the Committee on
Ministry. Unless otherwise required, this confidential record will only be available to Committee on Ministry members, the Chair of the Board of Trustees and the Minister.
Access will be further limited if the complaint involves any of these people.
- In working with any given complaint, the Committee is not required to keep a written record if the complaint is resolved informally or dropped at the request of the complainant. Under these circumstances, the Committee is not required to contact the individual who was the focus of the complaint.
Any teacher, helper or administrator of the KUUF Religious Education Program will follow the procedure above in the face of concerns about the safety of a child or youth who is involved in KUUF activities.
Definitions Of Harassment and Abuse
Introduction — Two principal forms of interpersonal violence are harassment and abuse, which are defined below. If an individual feels his/her personal safety has been violated in this congregation by a behavior or form of misconduct that is not specified here, s/he may still file a complaint with the Committee on Ministry.
Harassment — Harassment includes unsolicited and unwelcome conduct that in the case of sexual harassment has sexual overtones. All forms of harassment can feel intrusive, intimidating, hostile, offensive and/or humiliating to the victim. This includes physical, psychological, and sexual harassment. Stalking is also a type of harassment. We consider these three areas to overlap, but are focusing on where the primary complaint is. Unwelcome physical touch with sexual overtones would be considered sexual harassment.
Physical – Pertaining to unwanted touch, contact, or other physical intrusions on another’s space.
Psychological – pertaining to emotional and mental levels of pestering, intruding, stalking, etc.
Sexual – pertaining to unwanted sexualized behaviors, which may be in the form of:
- Physical conduct – touching, pinching, brushing against, impeding or blocking movement, assault, coercing sexual contact, etc.
- Verbal conduct – sexually suggestive or obscene comments, sexual propositions, threats (including threat of job loss or other punishment unless the victim engages in sexual relations), jokes about gender-specific traits or sexual orientation, etc.
- Written conduct – sexually suggestive or obscene written material.
Abuse — Abuse is a pattern of behavior that is used to control and/or dominate another person. Abuse can be physical, psychological, and/or sexual.
Physical– includes actual or threatened harm, such as hitting, shoving, kicking, or throwing things. The harm or threat thereof may also be against family members, pets, or treasured belongings.
Psychological– includes being mistreated mentally and emotionally, such as being insulted, ridiculed, or threatened verbally.
Sexual– includes any of the behaviors above. Three major areas of concern are:
- Sexual relating or contact between an adult and a minor.
- Sexual relating or contact between minors that violates one of them because of the other’s role or position of power.
- Sexual relating or contact between adults that violates one of them because of the other’s role or position of power.
5. Code of Ethics For Adults and Older Youth Working with Children and Youth
Adults and older youth who are in leadership roles are in a position of stewardship and play a key role in fostering spiritual development of both individuals and the community. It is, therefore, especially important that those in leadership positions be well qualified to provide the special nurture, care, and support that will enable children and youth to develop a positive sense of self and a spirit of independence and responsibility.
The relationship between youth and their leaders must be one of mutual respect if positive potential is to be realized. There are no more important areas of growth than those of self-worth and the development of a healthy identity as a sexual being. Adults play a key role in assisting children and youth in these areas of growth. Wisdom dictates that children, youth, and adults suffer damaging effects when leaders become sexually involved with young persons in their care; therefore leaders will refrain from engaging in sexual, seductive, or erotic behavior with children and youth. Neither shall they sexually harass or engage in behavior with youth that constitutes verbal, emotional or physical abuse.
Leaders shall be informed of the code of ethics and agree to it before assuming their role. In cases of violation of this code, appropriate action will be taken.
I have read and understand the above statements of position, expectations, and actions.
Name (printed): ________________________
Name (signed): _________________________ Date: ____________________