Scenario 1: A child of a first-time visitor starts to act out and give the teachers a very hard time. One of the teachers, Mr. Smith, is a kind, older gentleman. He removes the boy from the classroom, takes him into the hallway, briefly addresses his behavior and has him sit in a chair for a ten-minute time-out.
Questions to consider: Was it okay for Mr. Smith to take the visiting child out in the hallway for a time-out? What would you have done? What guidelines are in your Child Protection Policy for this situation?
Scenario 2: Two childcare workers are watching a group of four- and five-year-olds in the church nursery. One of the girls has to go to the bathroom, so the female volunteer takes her down the hallway to the girls’ room; the male volunteer stays behind to watch the rest of the kids.
Questions to consider: Was it okay for the female volunteer to take the girl to the bathroom? Was it okay to leave the male volunteer alone with the children? Does your Child Protection Policy have guidelines for taking children to the restroom? If so, how would those guidelines apply to this situation?
Scenario 3: A child and his mother are given matching bracelets as the mother drops her son off at the children’s ministry check-in desk. At the end of the service, a parent returns and says to the childcare volunteer in the classroom, “Oops, I must have lost my parent identity bracelet. Sorry about that.” Feeling the awkwardness of the moment, the volunteer responds with a quick, “No worries. It happens all the time.” The mother takes her son and heads home.
Questions to consider: Was it okay for the volunteer to give the child back to the parent, even if she didn’t have the bracelet anymore? Would it ever be okay to do so? For example, what if the volunteer knew the parent really well? Depending on what your church uses for a check-in or checkout process, how would this situation be handled in your church? Does your Child Protection Policy have guidelines for checking in or checking out children in your church? If so, how would those guidelines apply to this situation?
Scenario 4: Jonathan calls the church. There are two boys in his neighborhood who play with his son and who have been coming with their family to church. He can’t bring them this Sunday since they will be out of town, so he wanted to see if someone else could pick them up.
Questions to consider: What are the guidelines for transportation of children to and from the church and the home? Who is allowed to pick them up? Do you need parental consent? If something goes wrong with the kids at church, who will be responsible for them?
Scenario 5: One of the volunteers for the first-grade class calls in sick at the last minute. Parents are arriving with their children, ready to check them in. There is only one adult volunteer in the classroom at this moment.
Questions to consider: Are the parents allowed to leave their children with only one volunteer present? Is there a way to contact other volunteers to ask someone to step in at the last minute? Can you ask parents to fill in? If so, which parents are allowed to help?
Scenario 6: A background screening comes back with a potential volunteer having several DUIs and speeding tickets.
Questions to consider: What should the children’s ministry director do in this situation? Who is responsible for deciding if this person will be allowed to work with children or not? What else would you need to know about this situation in order to make a decision?
Want more? The appendix of On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church, from which this post is excerpted, contains 18 scenarios and many other helpful resources.