Safe People

Creating safe places and situations


We are a community within which love, justice, truth, peace and self-discipline are nurtured and valued. It is sad that this has not always happened. Some men, women and children have been hurt by people they should have been able to trust, and in places where they should have been safe.

The overall aim for the Screening in Faith policy is to ensure that there is a safe environment in every parish, ministry, and activity. This includes children, seniors, any who are physically, emotionally, or spiritually vulnerable, and those who are ministering in our Church. Screening in Faith is designed to exclude any who are unsuitable or likely to offend. It will make our programmes safer for:
  • children
  • the frail elderly
  • the physically disabled
  • the mentally vulnerable and
  • our dedicated volunteers.

We must morally, legally and spiritually do all we can to make sure our church, clergy, paid and lay workers and the participants in our church-sponsored activities are as safe as possible.

In the Diocese of Ottawa, we have in place many policies and procedures to ensure that we are keeping clear records of how, when and why a person has been screened.

Safe environments, situations and people

Safe environments

When we talk about screening we talk about safe people. We must not forget that it is also very important to create safe environments, that is: safe places and safe situations. The first places that come to mind are the environments we provide for children.

Points to consider include:

✓ Two adults are required to be present during any activity for young children or youth.

✓ Activity rooms should have windows that allow an outside person to see in.

In the case of older children there should be two leaders or an open door. A leader should not meet alone with a child but should be joined by another leader if the meeting is to be private.

✓ Arrange for a bathroom monitor to keep the door slightly open when children are using the bathroom.

✓ During diaper changing, the changing table should be in view of another nursery worker.

Safe situations

Safety doesn't apply just to children; it applies to everybody. Priests, leaders, counsellors and other adults in the church are also vulnerable, and need to be protected. Transparency in all our dealings with others is our own best defense.

Some sensible rules, that protect everyone involved, are:

✓ Never be closed up in a room where people cannot see in.

✓ Never be in a car alone with a minor.

✓ When a priest or pastoral care worker gets called to visit a single distressed person, he or she should take another person along if at all possible. In an emergency, and failing all else, the priest or visitor should tell someone else, such as a spouse or secretary, where he/she is going and how long he/she will be.

✓ If a pastoral care worker encounters a compromising situation or crisis, they should deal with it in a compassionate manner, then report the incident as soon as possible to the rector or their pastoral supervisor.

✓ Transparency in our dealings with others is always the diocesan standard.

Safe people

If any of you hurt one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a millstone were hung on your neck and you were thrown into the sea. (Mt 18:6)

In making our churches safer places we must:

✓ Safeguard preschoolers, children, youth and vulnerable others in our church from abuse

✓ Take steps that will protect the church staff and volunteer workers from potential allegations of sexual abuse

✓ Limit the extent of legal risk and liability due to sexual abuse

Vulnerable people

We take it for granted that our children and youth are vulnerable. We know that the elderly or the disabled can also be vulnerable. What is less understood is that there are other vulnerabilities that are much less obvious but nonetheless real.

Examples are:

✓ The bereaved

✓ Both partners in troubled marriages

✓ The survivors of incest or other types of childhood abuse

✓ People of any age during illness or other crisis

This policy has been prepared with the help of a coalition of faith partners and reflects a shared commitment among the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Unitarian Universalist and United churches, and the Pentecostal Assembly. It also reflects the church coalition's co-operation with Volunteer Canada, Scouts Canada, Sports & Recreation Canada and other caring partners.

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