As a church, we have been increasing our efforts on security over the past year. For the past 2 weeks, I wanted to ask the community here about your approaches and procedures on security for childrens ministry, but kept getting sidetracked. Then yesterday, my friend's church (which is just minutes away from the site of the San Bernadino shootings) went on lock-down mode. What are you doing to keep the kids safe? 

Tags: kidmin, leadership, safety, security

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Hi Joe,

          I've worked with each of my churches to build a Security team whose only job is the safety and security of the children.  There are clear and written descriptions for them, as well as "response plans" to various dangers and hazards.  The next step after that would be to run some live scenarios (practices with an empty building) so you team becomes familiar with their role in an emergency.  (I can send some of this to you, if you would like.)  Hope this helps!

Coleen

Thanks Coleen! We are in the middle of updating our procedures and ready to do some drills with the staff first. Any info you send is appreciated! Joe  jmontoya@cottonwood.org

Hey Joe,

We just recently started using a new secure check-in system through CCB (Church Community Builder). This has allowed us to do a better job of tracking who is on campus and in our classrooms. We have also had conversations with our leaders concerning bad weather and fire, but never for other reasons. I hate that this is even a conversation in ministry, but would be interested in learning about how your church seeks to approach this matter. We currently only have one door and an elevator that allows people in, and several that are exits only.

Thank you for starting an important convo!

-Kelsey

Joe, you are smart to be doing this. It can be an unsafe world for kids even at church. I have written policies for our church on armed intruder, kidnapping, bomb threats, etc. I'd be happy to send you the wording if  you want but it looks like you've already got some contributions. I'll just include ours here. You are free to change the wording to fit your needs. I wrote policies for the state of OK Advisory Panel and my experience came in real handy when putting these protocols together, especially the training we got in OK after the OK City bombing. 

Potential kidnapping by a divorced parent

If it has been a situation where there has been abuse, PTSD in the parent, church staff needs to be made aware. Without spreading gossip, notify the key team players.

  1. Restraining order:  If there is a restraining order, the church needs to have a copy and key people in the children’s areas need to know where a copy of the retraining order is kept. It should be kept under lock and key in the church office.
  2. If an armed intruder gets into the children’s area and they are one of the parents of one of the children in your group, call the police immediately. Text or call a church leader or an usher.
  3. Code alert:  If the intruder is a divorced parent that everyone knows, be cautious in case the parent is armed. Because the intruder is known to members of the church a predetermined code will alert everyone to the seriousness of the situation. The predetermined code is “Red alert” and it should be texted to church leadership or an usher. Example:  “Samantha’s dad is here. Red alert!”
  4. In most situations like this, if there is anyway you can calm the intruder down or distract him until the authorities have arrived do so.
  5. Do not give his child or children to him. Keep in mind you are there to protect and keep all the children and the adults safe.
  6. Do not talk to the intruder if at all possible. But if he comes into your area and there is no escaping, remain as calm as possible. Speak slowly and distinctly. Stay calm.
  7. While the lead person is talking to the armed parent intruder, other volunteers need to gather the children and if at all possible get them out of the area. If not possible separate them into groups and get them involved in activities to distract them. 

Fire drills or in case of an actual fire
Every room shall have a floor plan of the church posted by the exit door. The straight red line is the main exit to be used in case of a fire or a fire drill. In case the main exit is blocked, a dotted red line indicates an alter route to be used. All doors to classrooms containing children shall open out. 

  1. Quickly gather students by the door and take a head count.

For infants, carry them individually or place them in a crib with wheels

For toddlers, carry or place them in a wagon or other mobile device

  1. Close windows and doors, turn off all electrical devices as you leave and take your class attendance or sign-in sheet with you.
  2. Know your exit route (posted in your room) then quietly and calmly lead students out by proper exit.
  3. Proceed to the pre-determined grassy area away from the building. Keep children together in that area.
  4. Once you have gotten clear of the building, take a head count and attendance.
  5. Return to building only after the “All Clear” has been sounded.
  6. Please do not dismiss any students from outside.
  7. For the safety of the children, parents may NOT take their child/children before the class has left the building or returned after the all clear. Parents may stay with the group and assist as volunteers.

 

 

Armed Intruder protocols
If an armed intruder should enter the church building and in particular the children’s area, follow the protocols below.  

The church staff will alert every one in the church with the following alarm system: 
3 short blast from the fire alarm.

Follow the checklist for lock down procedures.

  1. Lock all inside doors and windows
  2. Take roll immediately
  3. Notify 911 and give the address of your church
  4. Isolate the children and keep them out of sight
  5. Keep children as quiet as possible
  6. If possible have children sit or lie on the floor away from windows or door
  7. Cover windows in doors or other means of looking into a room
  8. Turn off all lights
  9. Do not let anyone into the room without the approval of police or staff person in charge – this includes parents of children.

10. Do not leave the classroom without approval from the police or staff person in charge.

11. Wait until you get an all clear to leave the area or until you are told to evacuate the area from a trusted source.

12. Go to designated meeting place away from the church if directed to evacuate the building.

The designated meeting place is the base of the hill that goes up to WalMart and just to the East of the sanctuary building. Keep all children out of the parking lot and on the grass. Stay in groups according to classrooms. Take attendance once your class has assembled together.

 

When groups of children rotate to other rooms or are directed to go to the designated meeting place away from the church, the attendance list should accompany the children to the new location.  The list should include cell phone or emergency numbers where a parent can be reached in case of evacuation to another location.


This is particularly true in programs such as Vacation Bible School and the parents are not on the property. (This is a good idea in case of a fire evacuation also.)

Bomb Threats

  1. Remain calm and ask the caller

—  When will bomb explode

—  Where is it now

—  What does it look like

—  What kin of bomb is it

—  Did you place the bomb

—  What is your address

—  Why are you doing this

—  Note sex of caller, length of call, etc.

  1. Listen for speech patterns
  2. Listen for background noise
  3. Notice any street noise
  4. Call 911 or rapid response team whichever is in your community
  5. Call pastoral staff
  6. Survey all rooms, closets, bathrooms
  7. Do not touch any suspicious items
  8. Evacuate the area where strange item is found

10. Do not rush children outside onto a playground or parking lot but wait for authorities to direct you

 

Suspected child abuse (responsibility, reporting)

Individual Responsibility

  1. In order to maintain a safe environment for all children and youth, all persons must be aware of their individual responsibility to report any questionable circumstance, observation, admission, or situation which endangers or threatens children.
  2. During services, children are not allowed to wander around the campus. If you see a child who is not in an appropriate place, please approach them or contact a staff member. Take the child to their class or to their parent.
  3. If you see an adult wandering around the building, please ask if you can help them. For security purposes, we do not permit people to wander around the children’s classes or hallways.
  4. Hall monitors and or ushers will be available in the hallways to assist teachers, parents, visitors or workers as needs arise.
  5. All questions or concerns of suspected activity of abuse or harassment by a volunteer should be reported to the Senior Pastor only. If the activity of concern involves a paid church employee, the matter shall be reported to the appropriate pastoral staff member. Pending the outcome of an investigation, all information pertaining to the alleged incident should be kept confidential.

 

Reporting Abuse

In the event anyone personally witnesses an occurrence in violation of this policy, that person will be asked to complete an Incident Report (forms available in the church office). All efforts at handling the incident should be documented.

Anyone witnessing such an occurrence should consider the following recommendations as to how such a situation should be handled to insure the security of the child and to protect against physical, emotional, or psychological injury to all persons involved:

  1. All incidents shall be reported immediately to the Senior Pastor, if available, or to the adult leader in charge of the event or activity. 
  2. The Senior Pastor must notify the parents within 24 hours of being made aware of the incident. 
  3. Personally secure the safety of child or children. Do not leave the child while reporting the incident.
  4. Do not personally confront the alleged or accused violator of the policy.
  5. The director or pastor will report the incident to the parents or guardians of the victim(s).
  6. A duly authorized representative of FBC will be responsible for all communication on behalf of the church.
  7. A prepared statement to the press and to the congregation should only be made as advised by the appropriate staff member(s). 

 

In the event a child or youth reports alleged abusive conduct, regardless of where the conduct occurred, (at church, offsite church event, or non-church event.) the person initially contacted by the child or the person who noticed cause for concern for the child’s safety must complete a written Incident Report which should include, as much as possible, the precise wording of the child or youth.

In the event a child makes an accusation of abuse or neglect occurring in the child’s home or else were off church property the person initially contacted will report to the senior pastor for disposition of the matter.

Response to the Accuser

  • Allegations should be taken seriously, and emotional support given to the accuser. The care and safety of the accuser is the first priority.
  • All efforts should be made to reach out to the accuser and the accuser’s family, extending whatever pastoral and professional resources may be needed.

 

Response to the Accused

  • Treat the accused with dignity and support. If the accuser is a worker/volunteer, he/she will be relieved of his/her duties until the investigation is finished.
  • Pastoral and/or professional resources should likewise be extended.

 

 

Thanks for joining in the conversation Kelsey. I wish I didn't have to spend so much time on security, but times have changed. I'm actually having a security meeting next week to assess our security for the children's ministry. We get to be in a building just for kidmin, so that has it's advantages like you mentioned: one entrance. We are looking at options for check-in, so I will check out CCB. Thanks! ~Joe

Kelsey Townsell said:

Hey Joe,

We just recently started using a new secure check-in system through CCB (Church Community Builder). This has allowed us to do a better job of tracking who is on campus and in our classrooms. We have also had conversations with our leaders concerning bad weather and fire, but never for other reasons. I hate that this is even a conversation in ministry, but would be interested in learning about how your church seeks to approach this matter. We currently only have one door and an elevator that allows people in, and several that are exits only.

Thank you for starting an important convo!

-Kelsey

Thank you Linda!

Can you email me the actual document? If so, jmontoya@cottonwood.org

I have a meeting next week with our Security head and exec team to assess the security of our children's ministry. And if it's ok with you, may I share this with another regional kidmin group on FaceBook? I appreciate you sharing this resource and your experience. ~Joe

Linda Ranson Jacobs said:

Joe, you are smart to be doing this. It can be an unsafe world for kids even at church. I have written policies for our church on armed intruder, kidnapping, bomb threats, etc. I'd be happy to send you the wording if  you want but it looks like you've already got some contributions. I'll just include ours here. You are free to change the wording to fit your needs. I wrote policies for the state of OK Advisory Panel and my experience came in real handy when putting these protocols together, especially the training we got in OK after the OK City bombing. 

Potential kidnapping by a divorced parent

If it has been a situation where there has been abuse, PTSD in the parent, church staff needs to be made aware. Without spreading gossip, notify the key team players.

  1. Restraining order:  If there is a restraining order, the church needs to have a copy and key people in the children’s areas need to know where a copy of the retraining order is kept. It should be kept under lock and key in the church office.
  2. If an armed intruder gets into the children’s area and they are one of the parents of one of the children in your group, call the police immediately. Text or call a church leader or an usher.
  3. Code alert:  If the intruder is a divorced parent that everyone knows, be cautious in case the parent is armed. Because the intruder is known to members of the church a predetermined code will alert everyone to the seriousness of the situation. The predetermined code is “Red alert” and it should be texted to church leadership or an usher. Example:  “Samantha’s dad is here. Red alert!”
  4. In most situations like this, if there is anyway you can calm the intruder down or distract him until the authorities have arrived do so.
  5. Do not give his child or children to him. Keep in mind you are there to protect and keep all the children and the adults safe.
  6. Do not talk to the intruder if at all possible. But if he comes into your area and there is no escaping, remain as calm as possible. Speak slowly and distinctly. Stay calm.
  7. While the lead person is talking to the armed parent intruder, other volunteers need to gather the children and if at all possible get them out of the area. If not possible separate them into groups and get them involved in activities to distract them. 

Fire drills or in case of an actual fire
Every room shall have a floor plan of the church posted by the exit door. The straight red line is the main exit to be used in case of a fire or a fire drill. In case the main exit is blocked, a dotted red line indicates an alter route to be used. All doors to classrooms containing children shall open out. 

  1. Quickly gather students by the door and take a head count.

For infants, carry them individually or place them in a crib with wheels

For toddlers, carry or place them in a wagon or other mobile device

  1. Close windows and doors, turn off all electrical devices as you leave and take your class attendance or sign-in sheet with you.
  2. Know your exit route (posted in your room) then quietly and calmly lead students out by proper exit.
  3. Proceed to the pre-determined grassy area away from the building. Keep children together in that area.
  4. Once you have gotten clear of the building, take a head count and attendance.
  5. Return to building only after the “All Clear” has been sounded.
  6. Please do not dismiss any students from outside.
  7. For the safety of the children, parents may NOT take their child/children before the class has left the building or returned after the all clear. Parents may stay with the group and assist as volunteers.

 

 

Armed Intruder protocols
If an armed intruder should enter the church building and in particular the children’s area, follow the protocols below.  

The church staff will alert every one in the church with the following alarm system: 
3 short blast from the fire alarm.

Follow the checklist for lock down procedures.

  1. Lock all inside doors and windows
  2. Take roll immediately
  3. Notify 911 and give the address of your church
  4. Isolate the children and keep them out of sight
  5. Keep children as quiet as possible
  6. If possible have children sit or lie on the floor away from windows or door
  7. Cover windows in doors or other means of looking into a room
  8. Turn off all lights
  9. Do not let anyone into the room without the approval of police or staff person in charge – this includes parents of children.

10. Do not leave the classroom without approval from the police or staff person in charge.

11. Wait until you get an all clear to leave the area or until you are told to evacuate the area from a trusted source.

12. Go to designated meeting place away from the church if directed to evacuate the building.

The designated meeting place is the base of the hill that goes up to WalMart and just to the East of the sanctuary building. Keep all children out of the parking lot and on the grass. Stay in groups according to classrooms. Take attendance once your class has assembled together.

 

When groups of children rotate to other rooms or are directed to go to the designated meeting place away from the church, the attendance list should accompany the children to the new location.  The list should include cell phone or emergency numbers where a parent can be reached in case of evacuation to another location.


This is particularly true in programs such as Vacation Bible School and the parents are not on the property. (This is a good idea in case of a fire evacuation also.)

Bomb Threats

  1. Remain calm and ask the caller

—  When will bomb explode

—  Where is it now

—  What does it look like

—  What kin of bomb is it

—  Did you place the bomb

—  What is your address

—  Why are you doing this

—  Note sex of caller, length of call, etc.

  1. Listen for speech patterns
  2. Listen for background noise
  3. Notice any street noise
  4. Call 911 or rapid response team whichever is in your community
  5. Call pastoral staff
  6. Survey all rooms, closets, bathrooms
  7. Do not touch any suspicious items
  8. Evacuate the area where strange item is found

10. Do not rush children outside onto a playground or parking lot but wait for authorities to direct you

 

Suspected child abuse (responsibility, reporting)

Individual Responsibility

  1. In order to maintain a safe environment for all children and youth, all persons must be aware of their individual responsibility to report any questionable circumstance, observation, admission, or situation which endangers or threatens children.
  2. During services, children are not allowed to wander around the campus. If you see a child who is not in an appropriate place, please approach them or contact a staff member. Take the child to their class or to their parent.
  3. If you see an adult wandering around the building, please ask if you can help them. For security purposes, we do not permit people to wander around the children’s classes or hallways.
  4. Hall monitors and or ushers will be available in the hallways to assist teachers, parents, visitors or workers as needs arise.
  5. All questions or concerns of suspected activity of abuse or harassment by a volunteer should be reported to the Senior Pastor only. If the activity of concern involves a paid church employee, the matter shall be reported to the appropriate pastoral staff member. Pending the outcome of an investigation, all information pertaining to the alleged incident should be kept confidential.

 

Reporting Abuse

In the event anyone personally witnesses an occurrence in violation of this policy, that person will be asked to complete an Incident Report (forms available in the church office). All efforts at handling the incident should be documented.

Anyone witnessing such an occurrence should consider the following recommendations as to how such a situation should be handled to insure the security of the child and to protect against physical, emotional, or psychological injury to all persons involved:

  1. All incidents shall be reported immediately to the Senior Pastor, if available, or to the adult leader in charge of the event or activity. 
  2. The Senior Pastor must notify the parents within 24 hours of being made aware of the incident. 
  3. Personally secure the safety of child or children. Do not leave the child while reporting the incident.
  4. Do not personally confront the alleged or accused violator of the policy.
  5. The director or pastor will report the incident to the parents or guardians of the victim(s).
  6. A duly authorized representative of FBC will be responsible for all communication on behalf of the church.
  7. A prepared statement to the press and to the congregation should only be made as advised by the appropriate staff member(s). 

 

In the event a child or youth reports alleged abusive conduct, regardless of where the conduct occurred, (at church, offsite church event, or non-church event.) the person initially contacted by the child or the person who noticed cause for concern for the child’s safety must complete a written Incident Report which should include, as much as possible, the precise wording of the child or youth.

In the event a child makes an accusation of abuse or neglect occurring in the child’s home or else were off church property the person initially contacted will report to the senior pastor for disposition of the matter.

Response to the Accuser

  • Allegations should be taken seriously, and emotional support given to the accuser. The care and safety of the accuser is the first priority.
  • All efforts should be made to reach out to the accuser and the accuser’s family, extending whatever pastoral and professional resources may be needed.

 

Response to the Accused

  • Treat the accused with dignity and support. If the accuser is a worker/volunteer, he/she will be relieved of his/her duties until the investigation is finished.
  • Pastoral and/or professional resources should likewise be extended.

 

 

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