Why should the Church be concerned with safeguarding?

  1. The Church has a duty of care to the children and young people who come to events, and groups, worship and Sunday Schools, etc. Surely making sure we keep them safe is a priority!
  2. The Church has a duty of care to those who have suffered, not least those who have suffered from abuse in their childhood. Surely we would want to offer them the best care and support we can.
  3. The Church has a duty of care to all who come to its door, even those who have committed serious crimes in the past and served a sentence. How we help them and support them, without putting others at risk is not easy, but we cannot ignore them.
  4. The Church should speak out for good and against wrong, work with others to make our communities safer, families stronger, youngsters better able to navigate through the difficult teenage years to adulthood.

And if these are not good enough reasons, then we need to recognise that the abuse of children, the deliberate abuse by others, who may be strangers, but more often are family or neighbours, is sadly too frequent in our communities in this country, nor is it restricted to one particular group or type of person.

And the Church has not got a very good reputation; in some places it has been naïve and wilful in the past; it has failed to listen to children and done too much to protect its own clergy. The perception is that there are child abusers in the clergy, and the Church leaders have not done much to stop it. In fact there have been good policies in the Church of England dioceses for many years now, but we need to prove ourselves to be trustworthy.

These are all general reasons, big reasons, but the main reason is that each individual young or older, in our churches is made in the image of God, loved by God, and precious to God. Under God we have a responsibility to help each one find life and find it in all its fullness.

There is one other reason why you should be taking Safeguarding seriously as a church, if none of the above is sufficient (and we really hope they are!). Were the worst to happen, and the PCC was sued by someone who had suffered abuse in a church context, you would not be covered by your insurance policy if you have not been working to the diocesan policies and procedures.

Is there any reason why we would not make safe-guarding a real priority?

In October 2012 these stories were all in the headlines

A school-girl who was taken to France by her teacher 

  • A five year old girl abducted while playing in her village – which is now a murder enquiry 
  • A famous celebrity now named as a serial sexual predator on young girls 
  • A local authority criticised for not doing enough to protect or respond to vulnerable girls being groomed for sex by a local gang 
  • A diocese seriously criticised for not having robust Safeguarding policies in place or upholding them

Sadly this is important, current and cannot be ignored.

This course is based on the Diocesan Safeguarding Children Handbook (2012) which itself is developed from Government and National Church Policies and Guidelines

These documents include:

  • “Protecting all God’s children” House of Bishops (2010), The House of Bishops’ Child Protection Policy
  • "Working Together to Safeguard Children” A guide to inter- agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children (2010)
  • "Safeguarding Guidelines relating to Safer Recruitment” House of Bishops (2010)

But, don’t worry, you do not have to read all of these documents. You will be directed to the relevant sections of each document as you work your way through this course. You should however be aware of what the Diocesan Safeguarding Children Policies and Procedures say, and know which sections relate to your areas of work with children.

All Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) and individual workers should see very clearly the necessity for care in selection, of helpful support for, and a continued interest in, all the parish workers who have contact with children. 

Read the following:

House of Bishops (2010) Protecting all God’s children. pages 8-10. Safeguarding Policy of the Church of England.

You can find the whole document here.

Read the recent news item from the BBC News Website to see how important this is for the safety of children but also for the trust in the Church as an institution.

Move on to the next page, What is safeguarding children?