Abuse and Sexual Misconduct Policy

Abuse and Sexual Misconduct Policy
Sexual Offenders Policy
Quick Reference to Abuse and Sexual Misconduct Policy
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Safety Committee: safety@montview.org

Abuse and Sexual Misconduct Policy

Goals

1. Protect church employees from abuse or sexual misconduct by fellow employees, church leaders and volunteers.
2. Protect church members and participants from abuse or sexual misconduct by church employees, church leaders and volunteers.
3. Protect church employees, church leaders, and volunteers from false accusations of abuse or improper sexual conduct.
4. Provide guidelines for the reporting of abuse or sexual misconduct.
Philosophy

“As God who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct….Tend the flock of God that is in your charge…” I Peter 2:15 and 5:2a

It is a mission of the church as a community of faith to maintain an environment free from any form of abuse or sexual misconduct by any person in a position of authority and trust, whether an employee or a volunteer, whether ordained to church office or not. The ethical conduct of all who minister in the name of Jesus Christ is of vital importance to the church because through these representatives is conveyed an understanding of God and the Gospel’s good news. “Their manner of life should be a demonstration of the Christian gospel in the church and the world.” Book of Order, Presbyterian Church (USA) G-6.0106.

Any form of abuse or sexual misconduct is unacceptable for anyone representing the church in any capacity including, but not limited to, employees, church officers and volunteers, and will not be tolerated. The scope of this policy is not limited to the physical location of the church property and relationships conducted on that property. It includes contacts wherever those in positions of authority and trust for the church carry out their responsibilities in its name or on its behalf.

It is our intention as a community of faith to hold all of our representatives, employees, church officers and volunteers, to the highest standards of conduct becoming to a Christian. For this church, that means specifically:

1. We have “zero-tolerance” for any sexual harassment, abuse or sexual misconduct which impacts or potentially impacts members of the Montview community;

2. We require anyone who has knowledge or suspicion of abuse or sexual misconduct to report it orally or in writing to the appropriate authorities and to the church Executive Staff, Leadership Staff, or Personnel Committee.

3. Any report will be taken with utmost seriousness and will be investigated thoroughly, as spelled out below in “Reporting for External Investigation” and “Procedures for Internal Response and Action”;

4. If the complaint is found to be valid, appropriate remedial action will be taken.
Implementation

A. DEFINITIONS
1. Sexual Harassment
Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church is pledged to preserving an environment free from sexual harassment. Harassment is against the law and is a form of gender discrimination. The aim of this policy is to prevent harassment of any kind by anyone employed by or associated with the church.

Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or unwanted sexual attention by anyone associated with the church, whether male or female. Harassment may include references to employment status or conditions or may serve to create a hostile, intimidating or uncomfortable environment.

Examples of harassment can include, but are not limited to, persistent and repeated verbal abuse, obscene jokes, lewd comments, sexual depictions, touching, staring or other sexual conduct committed either on or off church premises.

All church employees, volunteers or anyone serving the church in any capacity are responsible for helping ensure that our church is kept free of sexual harassment. If you feel you have been a victim of sexual harassment, report the behavior to the Executive Staff, Leadership Staff or Personnel Committee.. If you have witnessed sexual harassment, you also are urged to report the incident so that prompt action may be taken.

All complaints will be treated seriously, kept as confidential as possible and investigated fully. Montview church expressly forbids any retaliation against any person for reporting sexual harassment. If, however, the church finds that false charges have been filed, disciplinary action may be taken against anyone who provides false information.

If an investigation confirms that sexual harassment has occurred, immediate action will be taken to put an end to the harassment. Montview church will take appropriate corrective actions against anyone found to be in violation of this policy.

2. Abuse.
Child physical abuse is nonaccidental physical injury that is inflicted by a parent, caregiver, or other person who has responsibility for the child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caregiver intended to hurt the child.

Elder abuse is any abuse and neglect of persons age 60 and older by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust. It may include physical injury, sexual abuse or abusive sexual contact, psychological or emotional abuse, neglect of the elder’s basic needs, abandonment, and/or financial abuse or exploitation.

3. Child sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to, any contact or interaction between a child and an adult when the child is being used for the sexual gratification of the adult or of a third person. This behavior may or may not involve touching. The behavior includes, but is not limited to exhibitionism, sexual exploitation, and pornography.

exual behavior between a child and an adult is always considered forced, whether or not consented to by the child. A child in the state of Colorado, and for the purpose of this policy, is anyone under the age of eighteen (18) years of age. In another state where an act is committed, the upper age limit for child sexual abuse which applies there is the standard.

4. Rape or sexual contact by force, threat or intimidation.

5. Inappropriate sexual activity,

Inappropriate sexual activity includes, but is not limited to, any sexual contact by an employee, church officer, or volunteer of the church acting in an official capacity in its name or on its behalf.

6. Inappropriate use of electronic media.

Employees and volunteers shall not access any pornographic sites or images on church premises nor while involved in church activities. Additionally, employees and volunteers shall at no time access child pornography.

7. Vulnerable populations covered by this policy include children, youth, the elderly, and disabled individuals.

All employees and volunteers who work in church programs provided to these populations, both on and off Montview premises, must abide by this policy.

8. Program Safety Expectations

All staff and program leaders shall ensure that church programs provide safety and respect for all program participants. Each program will develop internal operational procedures that protect the physical, personal, and emotional safety for participants. No program shall control participants by physically abusive behavior nor by negative emotional expectations. The Safety Coordinating Committee will provide consultation and oversight of such procedures.

9. Staff Definitions

Executive Staff includes the Co-Pastors and the Executive Director.
Leadership Staff includes the Associate Pastor for Youth, the Minister for Children and Families, and Minister of Music.

B. SCREENING PROCEDURES FOR EMPLOYEES

1. All employees will be asked to complete an Abuse and Sexual Misconduct Disclosure Statement.

2. A FBI background complete with fingerprints will be conducted on all employees.

3. When an applicant is found to have committed a misdemeanor, felony, or child abuse, the Executive Staff or Leadership Staff will use the following criteria in determining the applicant’s eligibility for employment:

a. Nature of the offense and relationship to the job description of the position to which the applicant is applying

b. Potential access of the employee to vulnerable populations

c. Extent of rehabilitation since the offense.

4. Training for all new employees will include a review of this policy.

5. Annual training for all employees will include the content of this policy, information about mandatory reporting for child and elder abuse, and safety procedures that pertain to the area where they work.

6. The results of these background checks and the Social Security numbers provided in order to obtain the background checks are considered to be confidential information and will be securely stored. Access will be limited to Executive Staff, Leadership Staff, and any support staff who are assigned to the task of completing the background checks. The results of the background checks will be kept in church records during the term of the individual’s employment.

7. The Executive Staff is ultimately responsible for the completion of the required background checks and training. The implementation may be delegated to Leadership Staff. Executive Staff will provide an annual report of such to the Session.

C. SCREENING PROCEDURES FOR VOLUNTEERS

1. These requirements cover all elders, deacons, church school leaders, children’s program leaders, youth leaders, home visiting programs, and other volunteers, who as part of their role(s) could be expected to meet any of the following criteria with regularity:

a. Direct contact with vulnerable populations covered by this policy,

b. Unsupervised contact with vulnerable populations covered by this policy,

c. Hold a position of trust in working with the vulnerable populations covered by this policy.

2. All volunteers will be asked to complete an Abuse and Sexual Misconduct Disclosure Statement.

3. A Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) background check will be conducted on all volunteers prior to the start of their service. If any volunteers have lived in Colorado for less than one year, the background check will also include an FBI background check that includes fingerprinting.

4. When an applicant is found to have committed a misdemeanor, felony, or child abuse, Executive Staff or Leadership Staff will use the following criteria in determining the applicant’s eligibility for service as a volunteer:

a) Nature of the offense and relationship to the job description of the position to which the applicant is applying

b) Potential access of the volunteer to vulnerable population

c) Extent of rehabilitation since the offense.

5. Training for all new volunteers will include a review of this policy.

6. Annual training for all volunteers will include the content of this policy, information about mandatory reporting requirements for child and elder abuse, and safety procedures that pertain to the area where they work.

7. The results of these background checks and the Social Security numbers provided in order to obtain the background check are considered to be confidential information and will be securely stored. Access will be limited to Executive Staff, Leadership Staff, and any support staff who are assigned to the task of completing the background checks. The results of the background checks will be kept in church records until the end of the volunteer’s term of office or completion of volunteer role.

8. The Executive Staff is ultimately responsible for the completion of the required background checks and training. The implementation may be delegated to Leadership Staff. The Executive Staff will provide an annual report of such to the Session.

D. PROCEDURE FOR REPORTING FOR EXTERNAL INVESTIGATION

In order to promote justice, healing and restoration; to assure appropriate intervention to alleged incidents of sexual misconduct; to provide care for all involved; and to prevent any recurring misconduct, the following procedure for reporting is required. It is understood that information about allegations may come forward in a variety of forms, but every effort shall be made, once there is such information, to follow this procedure.

1. Anyone knowing, hearing of, or suspecting an incident of sexual misconduct or physical abuse is required to immediately report the allegation to the appropriate authorities. In emergency situations where the child or elderly person has an urgent safety concern, call 911. To report possible abuse to a child call the Denver Human Services Hotline, 720-944-3000. To report possible abuse of the elderly or vulnerable adults, call 720-944-2994.

2. The report may be written or oral, delivered in person, by e-mail, or by telephone. It may be signed or anonymous, but anyone making a report anonymously needs to know that the resulting investigation may be necessarily limited.

E. PROCEDURES FOR INTERNAL RESPONSE AND ACTION
1. In addition to fulfilling the requirement to report possible abuse or sexual misconduct externally, whoever makes a report of abuse of sexual misconduct is asked to make contact with a member of the Executive Staff, Leadership Staff or Personnel Committee. The person receiving the report will provide the person making the report with the assurance of prompt contact by a member of the response team.

2. If the report implicates an ordained pastor of the Presbytery, the Personnel Committee will notify the Presbytery of Denver. The Presbytery will have responsibility for response and action.
3. If the report implicates another employee, church officer, or volunteer, the designated response team will handle the report pursuant to these procedures.

4. The Executive Staff will lead the response team for reports implicating a volunteer, and will designate a contact person for the accuser and another contact person for the accused.

5. The Personnel Committee will lead the response team for reports implicating an employee and will designate a contact person for the accuser and another contact person for the accused.

6. The response team will ensure that legally required reporting procedures are followed for allegations of child abuse and elder abuse. Further actions of the response team will coordinate with investigations that result from such reports.

7. The designated contact person for the accuser and a member of the response team will meet with the accuser to do the following:

a) Offer the church’s care and concern.
b) Encourage her/him to provide as much information as is possible—details, corroborating witnesses, etc.
c) Inform the accuser that the initial and any future meetings will be a matter of written record.
d) Keep a written record of the initial and any future meetings.
e) Inform the accuser that legally required reporting procedures will be followed.
f) Inform the accuser that this information cannot be confidential and will be shared at the discretion of the Executive Staff.
g) Provide the accuser with a copy of this policy.
h) Provide the accuser with a list of possible advocates (skilled professionals, not in the employ of the church who can counsel and assist the accuser through the process).
i) Offer the accuser continued pastoral care by the church.
j) Inform the accuser that during investigation the accused will be removed or suspended from any responsibility at Montview that includes potential for activity that is of concern. This is for the protection of the accuser, the accused, and to avoid risk of potential harm to any alleged victims.

8. The designated contact person for the accused and a member of the response team will meet with the accused to do the following:

a) Inform him/her of the allegation
b) Ask for his/her response, in writing if possible.
c) Inform the accused that the initial and any future meetings will be a matter of written record.
d) Keep a written record of the initial and any future meetings.
e) Inform the accused that legally required reporting procedures will be followed.
f) Inform the accused that the allegation cannot be confidential and will be shared at the discretion of the Executive Staff.
g) Provide the accused with a copy of this policy.
h) Inform the accused that during the investigation he/she will be removed or suspended from any responsibility at Montview that includes potential for activity that is of concern. This is for the protection of the accuser, the accused, and to avoid risk of potential harm to any alleged victims.
i) Offer the accused continuing pastoral care.
j) Offer the accused information about the availability of advocates (skilled professionals, not in the employ of the church, who can counsel and assist the accused through the process)

9. The response team will seek any necessary legal consultation.

10. The response team will make necessary reports to the insurance company covering the church.

11. At the conclusion of external investigation and internal response, the response team will take necessary action. Reports on such action will be provided to the Session. The Session will decide if further reporting to the congregation is necessary.

12. If there is no resolution at this point, the Rules of Discipline of the Presbyterian Church (USA) may be invoked.

F. TRAINING

1. All employees must receive initial training on this policy, information about mandatory reporting requirements for child and elder abuse and safety procedures that pertain to the area where they work.

2. Volunteers covered by this policy–all elders, deacons, church school leaders, children’s program leaders, youth leaders, home visiting programs, and other volunteers who serve or represent the church in any capacity–must also receive this initial training.

3. Employees and volunteers should receive annual re-training on their anniversary date or at the beginning of each program year.

4. The Executive Staff is ultimately responsible for the completion of the required training. The training may be delegated to program leaders. The Executive Staff will provide an annual report of completed training to the Session.

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