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Section 5

Page history last edited by Loraine 4 years, 5 months ago

SECTION FIVE: INCIDENT REPORTING PROCEDURES

 

“Those of you who work with children are the front line in defending their right to grow up in a caring environment. Your early and supportive intervention can prevent child abuse and further family dysfunction.” (Alberta Children’s Services ‘Child Welfare and Professional’, NNCN412 02/00.)

 

Anticipated Abuse:  Abuse or neglect need not have already occurred for a child to be in need of protection; it is not necessary to wait until a child has been harmed to intervene. When abuse or neglect can be reasonably anticipated and there are reasonable grounds to believe a child is in need of protection, the legal obligation to report applies.

 

Historical Abuse:  Abuse or neglect that occurred in the not very recent past must be reported wherever there are reasonable grounds to believe that a child may be in need of protection. If the alleged offender is in regular contact with a child or children, irrespective of whether it is the same child or children abused in the past, there may be grounds to believe that the child or children are a risk based on the offender’s past behaviour. It is particularly vital to report these cases where the alleged abuser is in a position of trust concerning children, such as a teaching position.

 

Flow chart 

 

1.      Suspicious Behaviour:  Some conduct just deserves counsel and advice from a supervisor while other conduct requires reporting.

 

1.1    Immediately report any inappropriate conduct or relationship between ministry workers and a minor (individual under 18 years - including fellow workers under 18 years of age) to the individual’s immediate supervisor or chairman of screening committee for investigation.  He/she is responsible to issue prompt warnings where appropriate and to closely monitor the situation. 

 

1.2    Ministry workers need to be aware that abuse may occur between two minors where one is older or more powerful than the other.  Such incidents should also be immediately reported to the immediate supervisor.

 

1.3    The immediate supervisor will work with the informant to document the concern (see appendix “A”), noting all efforts at handling the incident. This report will be forwarded to the chairman of the screening committee  immediately (i.e. preferably within the hour). 

 

1.4    The immediate supervisor and screening committee will assess the incident to determine if it requires reporting.  A follow-up report (see appendix “B”) will be completed.  Both this and the initial report will be required if the incident is reportable.  Both are to be kept on the individual’s screening file.

 

1.5    Where a pastoris involved in the suspicious behaviour or allegation, the board chairman is to be immediately advised.

 

2.      When a Legitimate Allegation Occurs

Do not attempt an in-depth investigation. This should be left to professionals who are familiar with these cases.

 

Do not prejudge the situation, but take the allegations seriously and reach out to the victim and the victim’s family. Showing care and support help to prevent further hurt. Extend whatever pastoral resources are needed. Remember that the care and safety of the victim is the first priority. In some situations, churches have responded in a negative or non-supportive manner to the alleged victim. This can increase the anger and pain of the victim and the victim’s family. Future reconciliation will be more difficult. The possibilities of damaging litigation increases.

 

Treat the accused with dignity and support.

 

 Social workers designated to receive reports are trained to investigate and assess the need for intervention. Other professionals must not assume this function. A professional who does so and fails to report commits an offense. The Act protects an individual when a report is made. No action would be taken against a person making a report unless it is made maliciously or without grounds.

 

 

 

 

2.1    The screening committee chairman (or designate) will communicate the incident immediately to those who need to be informed within the church (i.e. the senior pastor and chairman of the board).

 

2.2    The screening committee chairman(or designate) will contact and report the incident to the local Child and Family Services Authority office; and contact the church’s lawyer - such an incident is not to be handled without outside professional assistance.

 

2.3    If the incident involves a church worker, either paid or volunteer, a team of three members to include chairman of the board (or designate), the senior pastor (or another elder)and the person with “reasonable grounds” shall interview the person suspected of child abuse. Immediate suspension of duties shall result when a church worker is suspected of child abuse and reasonable evidence exists as to his/her alleged involvement until a complete investigation and decision has been made.   The chairman of the board will make a decision to maintain or suspend his or her income until the allegations are cleared or substantiated.

               

3.      What to do if a Minor Discloses Abuse 

 

3.1    Ministry workers should note when a minor appears aloof or withdrawn, or exhibits a marked personality change.  This may indicate a problem that deserves attention.  See Symptoms of Abuse in this document.

        

3.2    When the minor first comes, be sure to take his or her word seriously. Do not deny the problem, but stay calm and listen to the minor.  Give emotional support, reminding the minor that he or she is not at fault.

 

3.3    Tell the minor that he or she was right in disclosing the problem.  Do not promise the minor that no one will be told.   You need to let them know that you may need to talk to others about the situation, i.e. immediate supervisor.  Ask the minor if they told anyone else and what response they received.  Do not interview the minor in detail or suggest to the minor that they have been abused.

 

3.4    Document all your information concerning the incident (appendix “A”).  Try to write down what has been told to you in words used by the minor.   This record of the conversation is very important. 

 

 

3.5    Where a minor’s safety is of concern, the ministry worker must immediately (preferably within the hour),

“Any person who has reasonable and probable grounds to believe and believes that a child is in need of protective services shall forthwith report the matter to a (Child Welfare) director.”  (Alberta Child Welfare Act). 

 

 with or without their immediate supervisor or children/youth senior staff member /senior pastor, contact Child Welfare (Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-386-5437).   Failure to report in these circumstances is in violation of the Child Welfare Act and the individual may be found to have committed an offence and that the responsibility cannot be assumed to have been carried out by others.

 

3.6    The ministry worker is also required to immediately (preferably within the hour) notify the children/youth senior staff member or the senior pastor and chairman of the screening committee who will communicate the incident immediately to those who need to be informed within the church (i.e. the senior pastor and chairman of the board).

 

4.      Confidentiality

 

4.1    We recognize that, in all matters of suspected abuse or neglect, it is important to keep the information

Reporting an incident is not a breach of confidence between church personnel and the child involved. No person is personally liable for anything done or omitted in good faith in the exercise of this responsibility. Church leaders, at Bonnyville Baptist Church, aware of their accountability to God, acknowledge their responsibility to defend and protect God’s little ones. It is also the desire of Bonnyville Baptist Church to protect the parents as much as legally possible from undue interference by outside authorities into their family. We want to follow the principles of submitting to governing authorities (Romans 13:1ff) while at the same time helping parents to exercise child discipline that is consistent with Scripture, and in the best interest of the children.

 

 

restricted to those who need to be advised. Therefore, all suspicions of abuse will follow the above protocol.

 

4.2    We acknowledge that the only claim of confidentiality which overrides the legal duty to report is solicitor-client privilege. Neither physicians, or clergymen, or any others who consider their professional relationships confidential for certain purposes are exempt under the Alberta Family and Child Services Act from the duty to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

 

4.3    All requests for information regarding a child are to be referred to the senior pastor.

 

5.      The Child Welfare Report

 

 5.1    Within the church, all requests for information regarding a minor are to be referred to the senior pastor (or his delegate).  The following process should be followed at all times to assure the health and safety of the minor.

 

          5.1.1    Any request from a child protection social worker should be in person and the protection worker should carry and show photo ID.

 

 

CONTENTS OF THE REPORT

 

 

As part of a child protection investigation, social workers are required under the Child Welfare Act to assess:

                                                The child’s current state of health;

                                                Their sense of safety and their views of abuse;

                                                Previous abuse, neglect or harm; and

                                                The ability of the parent(s) to care for and protect the child.

 

The social worker will talk to people who have contact with the child and family. They may request records or other types of information. They are entitled to whatever information is needed to complete an investigation. If denied access to a record, they can seek a court order.

 

 

 

                    

          5.1.2    If the request is urgent, and the child protection social worker is unable to visit the facility and show photo ID, the protection social worker may telephone from his/her office. NOTE that:

 

The social worker is to identify him/herself.

  •  She/he is to explain the information they are requesting and the process to be followed.  They WILL NOT ask for information at this time.   DO NOT give information at this time.        
  •  Verify the social worker’s identification by calling the agency, checking with the telephone directory for the agency office number, etc
  • Once identification has been established, provide whatever information is requested.        
  • Ask to be kept informed of future developments in the case. 

 

       5.1.3       If identification of the social worker cannot be confirmed, the senior pastor (or his delegate)is NOT to give out any information. Request a personal meeting, and have the worker bring photo ID. (Be extra careful with calls by cell phone and do not respond to calls from a pay phone.)

                                                                                

6.      Church Follow-up and Discipline

 

 6.1    If it is found that child abuse by a member of the church has taken place, the church will practice discipline according to Matthew 18:15-17

 

 6.2    The church should protect parents as much as legally possible from undue interference by outside authorities into their family life.

 

 6.3    The church should ask the Child & Family Services Authority if it can assist in helping the hurting family.

 

 6.4    The church should maintain frequent communication and supportive relationships with those suspected or guilty of child abuse as long as these persons exhibit a willingness to listen, change and look to Christ for help.

        

6.5    This does not exclude the need for hurting individuals to receive professional counseling.

 

7.      Public Relations

 

 7.1    The chairman of the board (or designate) will serve as the ONLY spokesman for any allegation and all inquiries are to be referred to him/her.  He will speak to the media and the congregation regarding the matter, if required, in a discreet, informed, truthful and diplomatic way.

 

7.2    Everyone involved in any part of the ministry of the church should be made aware of who this person is, and make no comment but refer all inquiries to the chairman of the Board.

 

7.3    The following statement will be used and any further comments will be decided with legal counsel. A “No comment” statement is not to be made. This is an opportunity to influence public opinion positively by emphasizing an awareness of the problem of child abuse, a concern for victims, and the extensive steps taken by the church to reduce risk and provide a safe environment for children.

 

                              “It is always tragic when children are abuse or exploited. Bonnyville Baptist Church is aware of the ever growing nature of child abuse. We have taken careful precautions to protect the children entrusted to our care. We are distressed by any accusations of child abuse. We will do everything in our power to address any needs in this situation. For the welfare of those involved, all information has been directed to the appropriate agencies and authorities.”

 

7.4    Often when confronted with an allegation of abuse, a church may be tempted to

 

  •  Deny that the incident occurred, despite clear evidence to the contrary;
  •  Acknowledge that the incident occurred, but minimize it, ("it only happened once", or "it wasn't that serious.")
  • Blame the victim or the victim's family.

 

 All these responses are inappropriate and are to be avoided. 

 

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