Reducing the Risk of Sexual Abuse: Safe Sanctuaries® is one of the “social structures that are consistent with the gospel” (Book of Discipline, ¶122) allowing our sanctuaries, classrooms, mission encounters, camps and retreats, and all spaces where we gather to worship and serve God to be places of trust.
At Ridgewood, training is required for all persons having direct contact with children, youth, and vulnerable adults in all activities. Our training begins with an annual orientation that includes information about the Safe Sanctuaries Policy; training in the supervision of children, youth, and vulnerable adults; and training in the identification and reporting of abuse.
Those who wish to serve in ministries with children, youth, and vulnerable adults must be actively engaged in the life of the congregation for at least six (6) months prior to service, including worship, Sunday School, mission opportunities, and other ministries so that the people serving with children, youth, and vulnerable adults are known in the congregation. Groups of children and youth will be supervised by two non-related, noncohabitating adults, and each supervising adult will be five years older or more than the oldest child or youth in the group.
Safe Sanctuaries® training stresses the importance of face-to-face training and conversation when online training is used. The opportunity to talk through case studies or issues specific to a particular context is imperative so that each person working with the most vulnerable has an understanding of what is expected.
Not putting appropriate policies, procedures, and guidelines in place allows for the risks of abuse to increase. Congregations who develop and live Safe Sanctuaries® find it a deterrent to predators who are looking for easy access to the vulnerable. Ridgewood believes we need to honor children, youth, and vulnerable adults enough to protect them from bodily harm, emotional damage, and spiritual destruction.