Holding their 10-month-old in their arms and with tears of anguish running down their faces, the young couple shared with the 60-plus people in their local church somewhere in Louisiana how they needed the church’s prayers.
ALEXANDRIA — Holding
their 10-month-old in their arms and with tears of anguish running down
their faces, the young couple shared with the 60-plus people in their
local church somewhere in Louisiana how they needed the church’s
prayers. Why? They had every reason to believe their little baby was
sexually molested at the day care her parents had entrusted the infant
Almost in unison, the
church family gasped at the news. The congregation was shocked that
someone so young and connected with their church family was a victim of
a sexual perpetrator. Their response was the result of their world
being rocked by a growing phenomenon on the American landscape.
According to the
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, approximately
80,000 cases of sexual molestation are reported every year.
This statistic doesn’t account for the unreported cases where shame and disinformation prevail over responsible action.
Imagine the depth of
the pain if the church had been the day care provider. What if the
perpetrator was a volunteer in the church nursery or a children’s
department? What if a predator was “hanging out” with the church middle
In a culture that has
become increasingly dangerous for children and in an atmosphere of
litigation targeted at churches, a cost-effective child protection
policy is needed by every congregation.
from harm is very important to Louisiana Baptists. To assist with the
process of protecting children and adolescents from predators, the
Louisiana Baptist Convention welcomes a new tool to its community of
church resources. Child Guard Systems, Inc., a Richardson, Texas based
Risk Management Company, www.childguardsystems.com provides a
comprehensive child protection program to assist local churches. The
company provides a simple, web-based compliant program designed to help
churches reduce the risk of potential harm toward any child attending
or visiting a local church.
“We want every local
church to be a positive experience for every child. The vast majority
of our Louisiana Baptist churches work very hard at assuring that
children are protected,” David E. Hankins, executive director of the
Louisiana Baptist Convention said. “Churches need to be very careful
and do their best to lower the risk of harm to children. We want to
provide links to resource providers so that churches can acquire the
best tools and increase the level of safety for children.”
denominational churches, Louisiana Southern Baptist churches do not
have any hierarchical form of church government. Baptist ecclesiology
maintains that the local church is the “headquarters” of God’s work.
Louisiana Southern Baptists and thus far the courts understand that
cooperative ministries such as local Baptist associations, state
conventions, and national convention exist to serve the cooperating
churches. One of the tasks involved in serving local churches is
helping the congregation be a healthy church. This involves the
church’s ministries being safe havens for children and youth.
In recent months, the
Southern Baptist Convention has come under fire by SNAP (Survivors
Network of those Abused by Priests and other Clergy). The organization
has vowed to “keep prodding Baptist officials until every wounded adult
is recovering and every vulnerable kid is safe.” SNAP is calling for
the establishment of an independent review board that would work as an
auxiliary to the SBC, be funded by the SBC and would investigate
reports of child sexual abuse.
However, in a Feb. 22, 2007, article published on Baptist Press,
D. August Boto, vice president for convention policy, SBC executive
committee, stated, “The SBC has made resources available to assist
churches in performing background research and we will continue to
encourage every SBC church to make full use of those resources in their
hiring processes. Our earnest prayer is that every Southern Baptist
church will take the necessary steps to prevent such abuse — it is a
stewardship the Lord has placed before them.”
perpetrators not only use church staff positions to target their prey;
they will also use a volunteer ministry opportunity to lure children
into their web of darkness. As a result, churches need a clear “Child
Protection Policy,” training for workers and a criminal background
check for each volunteer/staff worker.
According to company
spokesperson, Arthur Benson, Child Guard Systems, Inc. provides a cost
effective method that can certify every volunteer and staff person who
works directly or indirectly with minors. This customized product
includes training and testing to demonstrate comprehension. Once a
volunteer/staff member receives the training, an individualized online
test is given to the person. When an acceptable score is achieved which
measures comprehension of the local church’s adopted policies, and an
initial background check is cleared, then a Certificate of Completion
by Child Guard System, Inc. is issued verifying the person has
completed their local church’s child protection training.
provides at least two things for the church: first, the security issue
for the children and second, an “affirmative evidence against
liability” in cases where the church is included in a civil lawsuit.
Some larger churches
have developed, adopted and implemented a written child protection
policy. Usually this includes some kind of limited classroom training
and a background check. But what about the medium to smaller in
“This is one of our
greatest concerns,” said John L. Yeats, SBC recording secretary and LBC
director of communications. “While larger, multi-staff churches have
the financial and organizational resources to implement a plan, the
single staff, bivocational congregation is vulnerable. Child Guard
Systems, Inc. has developed a web based platform to deliver a safety
net of protection for each individual church. They have structured
their pricing so that it is an affordable process. Every church has
someone who has Internet access so the process is available to every
For churches that
offer non-English speaking ministries, the content can be delivered in
almost any language. The system tracks each time an individual enters
the website and additionally will advise the administrator (determined
by the local congregation) of those that have or have not successfully
completed the program.
This program can be
a potential promotion to attract prospective new members that have
young children because the parents recognize the church is doing
everything possible to safeguard their children while at the church
facility or on a church event. Child Guard Systems, Inc. also offers
similar products to day care and Mother’s Day Out programs.
Child Guard Systems provides is the issuance of Child Guard photo
identification badges with both child and parent information encoded in
a magnetic stripe. The card is swiped when a child is dropped off at
the church and again when picked up. The church will have real time
documented proof of when and who dropped off a child at the nursery or
children’s department at the local church facility. There is also a
record of when the child is picked up. The card can be encoded with
medical and emergency related information for additional protection of
additional information about Child Guard Systems, Inc. may link to the
company’s website by first going to www.lbc.org. Under the tab
“resources” is a link to Child Guard Systems, Inc.
It is recommended
that the local church seek the advice of competent legal counsel before
the adoption of any policies and the use of background checks. The
material contained in this article is for the purpose of providing
information resources only. Neither the Louisiana Baptist Convention
nor the Executive Board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention makes any
representations or warranties about the claims or practices of its
resources or advertisers.