You know from your Safe Gatherings training that it is inappropriate to be alone with a child or youth other than your own when you are serving with your organization. This is for your protection as well as the young person. In addition, the two-deep leadership policy ensures that there are at least two adults in classrooms, youth meetings and other activities with the vulnerable. Again, this is in the interest of transparent communication, where nothing is hidden. Churches and faith-based organizations are responsible for ensuring that sufficient leadership is provided for all activities, no matter what the venue.
The COVID-19 situation has thrown churches and other organizations for many loops, but one thing should remain consistent: two adults should be present around a group of children or youth.
You may be asking yourself, “What’s the harm in running a Zoom meeting with just one adult? After all, there’s no risk of inappropriate contact or behavior because no one is in the same room.” Well, if history has taught us anything, it has shown that the opportunity for risky behavior can present itself in any scenario. Virtual instruction is no exception.
Some of the risks include inappropriate chatting or texting, inappropriate comments or content, and escalating grooming behavior. Abuse can happen anywhere despite our best efforts.
Don’t have enough volunteers? In this time when in-person worship has been suspended in many congregations across the country, encourage parents and other interested congregants to go through the Safe Gatherings training and commit to sitting in on virtual instruction. You may find more availability now that many activities have slowed down and people have more time to commit to this important work.
Technology can be used for great things during this pandemic, including outreach to others outside of your community and expanding your reach to those who cannot make it to worship. But it’s important to know that there are dangers even with virtual ministry. In all of your online ministry, make sure there are two Safe Gatherings-approved adults present when working with children and youth.