34 Offenses That Exclude Youth Ministry Volunteers
If you’re involved with youth ministry or have one at your church, then you know how rewarding such a ministry can be. However, it’s also super-important to keep those in your charge safe and secure. That means watching out for any signs that there could be a sexual offender working among your employees or volunteers. Looking into someone’s past can give you the insight you need to avoid trouble early on.
Of course, your good judgment is the most valuable guide, but sometimes a list of disqualifiers can help.
Here’s a list of things that should prevent someone from working with youth at your ministry:
- Sexual assault of a child – Thanks to the reach of internet-based media, child sexual abuse cases are starting to come to light more and more frequently. A quick Google News search is all you need to see how big the risk is. Not only that, you’ll see that many churches are paying far more than the cost of a background check if they employee a sex offender.
- Sexual exploitation of a child – Some youths are taken advantage of indirectly, such as when they are encouraged to perform sexual acts in exchange for food or other basic necessities. Often this involves the creation of child pornography.
- Physical abuse of a child – Sexual abuse is not the only threat to the youth of your ministry. Sometimes untrained workers and volunteers come in to contact with you and are unaware of or lack good conflict resolution skills, leading to physical altercations with youth.
- Causing mental harm to a child – These are acts that disregard the mental well-being of a child.
- Kidnapping – According to the Polly Klass Foundation, about 3% of abductions are committed by non-family members. The kidnapper is often someone the child knows.
- Incest – Incest is a sexual act between related individuals.
- Use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime – This is when an individual use a computer to solicit sexual contact or intercourse with a youth who is under the age of consent.
- Soliciting a child for prostitution – Offering money or other goods to a youth with the intent of receiving sexual contact or intercourse.
- Sexual intercourse with a child age 16 or younger – This one is fairly self-explanatory
- Exposure – Exposing a private part of one’s body to others. Don’t be like that guy on the subway …
- Possession of child pornography – This is having materials that include the visual depiction of a minor, or someone who looks like a minor, engaging in sexually explicit conduct. This usually includes photographs, film, video, computer-generated images or pictures and drawings
- Child sex offender working with children – If an employee is an offender and is working with children you must immediately remove them from contact with children
- Registered sex offender photographing children – Make sure all photos are taken by a licensed photographer and that you have parent’s permission prior to use of photography.
- Child neglect – Failure to provide for a youth in some way that would cause harm physically, emotionally, psychologically, or educationally
- Contributing to truancy – Enabling youths to miss school and resulting in an unexcused absence
- Strip searches by school employees – A strip search can only be performed by law enforcement under specific circumstances
- Leaving loaded firearm accessible to a minor – Talk about a tragedy waiting to happen! This is a prime example of irresponsible behavior
- Receiving stolen property from a child – intentionally receiving stolen property from a child. It can also include concealment of stolen property
- Tattooing a child – another example of poor judgement and also could be considered physical abuse
- Battery – a criminal offense involving the unlawful physical acting upon a threat, distinct from assault which is the act of creating apprehension of such contact
- Battery or threat to a witness – same as battery but revolving around a witness to a crime
- Battery or threat to a judge – same as regular battery but focused on a judge
- Battery to an unborn child – same as battery but involves a woman carrying an unborn child
- Sexual exploitation by a therapist – this is when a therapist takes advantage of a patient under their care, sexually
- Sexual assault – this often refers to crimes involving sexual touching that is unwanted and offensive. It can be anything from sexual groping to assault or battery and even attempted rape
- Reckless injury – this involves recklessly engaging in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person
- Injury by negligent handling of a firearm – this usually involves improperly storing a firearm where a minor obtains the firearm and causes the injury or death of (himself or herself) or any other person
- Injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle – this is injury or death of another party resulting from drunk or impaired driving
- Abuse of persons at risk – committing a crime against a person with a disability
- Child unattended in a child care vehicle – leaving a child unattended in a vehicle owned or operated by a child care facility. Those tragic stories in the news always get to me …
- Stalking – stalking is related to harassment and intimidation and may include following someone in person or monitoring them
- Hazing – anything from pranks to abuse, hazing is a serious issue. This is especially true when involving alcohol and minors
- Mayhem – usually this intentional maiming of another person
Our job as a church insurance agency is to help you mitigate church risk, but protecting children should be everyone’s top priority.
So what should you do if a child or adult comes forward with alleged abuse? In California, mandated reporting is in effect.
Many people that work with youth don’t realize they are mandated reporters. According to a new California law, if you are one of the following, you are a mandated reporter and MUST report suspected abuse. There are protections in place for you if you are mistaken and no abuse has taken place. When in doubt, report anyway.
- (32) A clergy member, as specified in subdivision (d) of Section 11166. As used in this article, “clergy member” means a priest, minister, rabbi, religious practitioner, or similar functionary of a church, temple, or recognized denomination or organization.
- (33) Any custodian of records of a clergy member, as specified in this section and subdivision (d) of Section 11166.
If you’re ready to make sure your ministry is fully protecting its youth, check out our post on Child Abuse in Ministry and the Tools You Can Use To Prevent It.
Have questions about your Youth Ministry’s risk? Why not let us call you? We can talk through them with you.
What do you think? Is there anything you think is missing from the list? Let us know in the comments, below.