Sunday School Safety and Security
By: Tony Kummer
Safety and security is one of the biggest topics in children's ministry today. This is true for both small and large churches. Keeping kids safe should be a priority in every church. In this article, I will discuss the leading concerns about Sunday School security and offer some ways to improve safety at your church.
Security and Safety Concerns for Sunday School
Here are the dangers that churches must work to prevent:
Sunday School Safety and Security Checklist
* Classrooms should be in high-traffic areas and have windows. We recently installed windows in every classroom door. Since we have a volunteer church handyman, the project cost was very reasonable.
* If your Sunday School classrooms do not have windows, keep them open unless two adults are with the class.
* Children's ministry areas should be up to building and fire code. This would include emergency exits, smoke alarms, and fire extinguishers.
* Is the furniture safe and appropriate for children? Make sure that bookcases are secured to the wall, desks do not have splinters, and chairs are in good repair.
* Use safety plugs in all electrical outlets. This needs to be checked often, since these tend to get lost. Use safety plugs in the hallways and adult areas, too.
* If there is overhead storage, on a shelf or a cabinet, make sure it is secure and items will not fall on children if they bump up against the cabinet.
* Control the access to your building. In larger churches, this becomes a big concern. There should be a limited number of entrance points to your children's ministry area.
Do You Insist On Safety For All Sunday School Activities, Snacks and Crafts?
* Avoid object lessons that could be unsafe. We learned from experience not to burn anything inside the Sunday school classrooms!
* Some games are not safe for small rooms. If you don't have enough floor space for a suggested Sunday School game, go outside or substitute another activity.
* Never serve a snack with nuts unless you have personally cleared it with every parent. With peanut allergies on the rise, it is better to be safe than sorry.
* Do not serve hot liquids; it's okay if the hot chocolate is just warm.
* Supervise children closely during snack time; even older children can choke on their food.
Have You Selected Volunteers And Teachers That Are Safe?
* No one is every allowed to be alone with a child. Make this a rule with no exceptions.
* Even in counseling situations have another adult volunteer present.
* The best safeguard against abuse is preventing opportunity for abuse. As much as you can, make it impossible for children to be harmed at your church.
Do Your Policies And Guidelines Promote Security and Safety?
* Make 2-by-2 the rule. No child (or group of children) should even be alone with an adult volunteer.
* Ask your volunteers to get trained on CPR and first aid. We have several retired nurses in our church who are great resources for minor accidents.
* Establish a check-in and check-out procedure that gets every child back to the right parents after your program. This will help to prevent children from being unsupervised in the facility.
* Do not allow children to be unattended before or after Sunday school programs. As one reader stated, "Children stay with parents and remain the parents' responsibility."
* Have a definite drop-off and pick-up time. These should be clearly posted and enforced. The children of volunteers should remain with their parents or be supervised in one location. We do not allow early drop-offs.
* Ask for hall monitors or greeters to patrol the facility during and after your ministry programs.
Tony Kummer is a children's pastor from Indiana and founder of www.Ministry-To-Children.com.