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Safe Church Policies

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Safe Church Policies

Faith communities offer children and youth a place for spiritual formation and connection to a caring community. It is vital that our churches provide a safe and secure environment for all who participate in programs and activities.

A formal, written child safety policy can help prevent the occurrence of abuse, protecting children, youth, employees, volunteers, and the entire church family.

We know that one of the significant vulnerabilities for children and youth who are exploited and trafficked is a history of child sexual abuse. Don’t wait for a child to be harmed; create a policy and a culture of awareness and prevention to protect children from harm.

The following resources can help you get started to create a policy within your church, or to strengthen the work already being done in your church to protect children. The resources also provide information regarding how to respond to an allegation, using the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) Guidelines.

Please refer to your local ELCA Synod office for additional guidelines, sample policies, Boundaries training for clergy and staff, background checks, and reporting steps

Two boys sitting on the grassTraining Programs

Safeguarding God’s Children is a training program created by the Episcopal Church for the prevention of sexual abuse of children and youth. The training informs participants of the ways predators gain access to and groom children for abuse and provides information needed to protect and care for children in ministry settings. The Church Pension Group also offers Safeguarding Online, a flexible, easy-to-access, and cost effective training.

Stewards of Children is a child sexual abuse prevention and response training program for adults, created by Darkness2light. This program provides steps adults can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse. Online training is available, as well as numerous other resources for parents, organizations, and communities.


"Suffer the Children: Developing Effective Church Policies on Child Maltreatment".  Victor I. Vieth, Jacobs Hope, June, 2011. Ten suggestions for faith communities developing and implementing policies to keep children safe.

“Tip Sheet: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention for Faith Communities”, Stop It Now!, 2019

“When the Abuser Is Among Us: One Church’s Response to a Perpetrator”, Carol J. Adams, Faith Trust Institute articles, 2010.

Links to ELCA Resources

Preventing Sexual Misconduct in Congregations

Clergy Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Resources

Report Misconduct

Responding to a Sex Offender in a Congregation

US Department of Health and Human Services

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures