Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. -Matthew 19:13-15

What we believe

Protecting children, especially those in our care, is our priority. In accordance with Christ’s warning in Matthew 18:6, we want to take every reasonable step to ensure their safety in our schools and Bruderhof communities.

What we require

1. Mandatory screening

References, a criminal background check, and a sex-offender registry check will be required for anyone over the age of eighteen who works in a position of trust and authority with children in our communities.

  • At least two references will be required to provide confirmation that there is no known reason why someone is unsuitable to work with children.
    • For individuals who have been on one of our communities for less than two years, we will obtain reference checks from third party institutions or employers who have had occasion to observe and evaluate the individual’s suitability for work with children.
    • In the case of adults from within our communities who are new to working with children, the best references are from people within our own communities who are known and trusted by us and who know the individual in question.
  • Youth helpers from our communities who assist adults in working with children must have demonstrated appropriate maturity and responsibility and be under appropriate adult supervision.

2. One Year Rule

In order to give us a longer period to evaluate the suitability of potential carers for work with children, no one should be involved in the care of children on our communities unless they have been part of our community for at least one year. In some exceptional cases, this length of time may be reduced based on character references from trusted third parties or a person’s prior history of work with children.

3. Supervision Practices

Supervision practices that reduce isolation and increase accountability must be used by all who work with children and youth. Whenever feasible, two adults should be present, or at minimum, one-on-one interactions should be held in full view of other adults. This practice protects children and the adults with whom they interact from false accusations. Note that it is acceptable for an adult cleared through the Safe Environment Training to be alone with a group of children, but they should not be alone in seclusion with a minor that is not their son or daughter. Any exceptions to this must be by express parental consent or expressly communicated to a department head ahead of time.

4. Training

We require all who work with children to successfully complete the Safe Environment Training or its equivalent as updated from time to time.

5. Appropriate boundaries for physical contact

Appropriate boundaries must be observed by everyone working with children or youth. Common sense, decency, and respect for the dignity of each person are our guidelines. No one should ever feel uncomfortable in the way they are touched. Corporal punishment in any form is prohibited.

6. Reporting

Anyone working with children or youth who has observed or has good cause to suspect a violation of law or of this Safe Environment Policy should promptly report that to an appropriate department head or any other trusted adult. This also means that once anyone working with children or young people has good cause to suspect child abuse may have occurred, this should be reported immediately as required by law to local child protective services and/or law enforcement.

7. Procedures for verification of suitability for work with children and young people

Anyone working in a position of responsibility, supervision, or authority with children and young people must observe this policy and be cleared through the Safe Environment Training.

All individuals who work with children are periodically retrained in safe environment best practices.