What Would You Do?

Monday, July 27th, 2020

You attend a virtual youth group meeting on a Sunday morning as an adult leader. After the meeting, you get a text message from one of the youth to clarify something that the other leader had said to her when they were chatting online during the meeting. She does not mention any inappropriate behavior, but you aren’t sure from her tone if she is reaching out for help or just wants a clarification on one of the topics in the meeting. But you do know that it isn’t appropriate for the leader to be chatting one-on-one with a youth (including the text message you just received). In fact, you thought that function had been disabled from your virtual meeting platform for security reasons. What do you do?

Chatting online one-on-one with members of your youth group does not follow the definition of “transparent” conversations. Leaders should not be texting or chatting with just one youth, and the other youth leader is out of line and risks the appearance of impropriety. First, you should discuss it with your leader to get an explanation, but also let them know you will be reaching out to your supervisor in the interest of transparency. Even if nothing inappropriate was going on, the youth leader needs to be reminded of the rules and the consequences for violating those rules. Follow up with the youth with a text that includes another trusted leader or your supervisor, with a reminder about chat functions. The youth is not in trouble for the communication, but they should be aware of safe behaviors in this type of setting.