The church will exercise proper care in the selection and appointment of those working with children and young people, whether paid or voluntary. All workers will be provided with appropriate training, support and supervision to promote the safeguarding of children.
Why recruitment procedures?
One of the greatest privileges entrusted to a church in its mission and outreach is that of sharing the love of God with children and young people – passing on the gospel of life and hope to the next generation. For this reason alone it is important that the local church should have good procedures in place to ensure that the right people are appointed to share in this task, and that those people are then trained and supported.
The need to safeguard children and young people only adds to the importance of adopting a robust appointment process and good support structures for those working with children and young people. Not least it is vital to ensure that inappropriate people are prevented from working with children and young people in the life of the church. To work with children and young people is not a right but a privilege and the need for safety is paramount as we seek to give children and young people the best experience we can of Christian living.
Once appointed it is also important that all of those who work with children and young people in the life of the church continue to receive training in the church’s safeguarding policy and procedures, and are properly supervised and supported in their work.
It is important to have very clear procedures in place for the appointment of those who work with children and young people. The kinds of situations that churches should avoid are as follows:
These are examples of poor practice in churches that can potentially put children and young people at risk.
A notice is given out in the church meeting that a Sunday School teacher is urgently required. Someone volunteers, and at the end of the meeting they are asked if they can begin the following Sunday.
A friend of one of the youth club leaders starts attending the youth club with them and somehow drifts into being part of the leadership team, with no formal appointment process.
A new member has transferred their membership from another church. When visited for church membership they say that they have worked with children in their previous church and would be keen to get involved. The visitors decide that they should strike while the iron is hot and introduce the new member to the leader of the mid-week children’s club. They join the leadership team two weeks later.
Someone offers to work with children and young people. An enhanced DBS Disclosure is obtained. References are taken up and an informal interview is conducted. However, no job description is ever written and no induction is given into the church’s safeguarding policy. After a few weeks the worker begins to organise additional activities for the young people in their group, away from the church premises and with no other adult involvement.
Good recruitment practice has been identified as one of the key measures that organisations should adopt if they are serious about safeguarding children and young people. In his report on the Soham murders, Sir Michael Bichard stated, “The harsh reality is that if a sufficiently devious person is determined to seek out opportunities to work their evil, no one can guarantee that they will be stopped. Our task is to make it as difficult as possible for them to succeed...” Such vigilance is as necessary in the local church as in any other organisation working with children and young people.