Safe Environment Policy

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 age eighteen or over 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.

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 one-on-one interactions should be held in full view of other adults. This practice protects both children and the adults with whom they interact. If an adult is working alone with a minor, the adult must act transparently and take care to act consistently with the Behavioral Guidelines.

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 as well as other mandated training.

5. Appropriate boundaries and behavior

Appropriate boundaries and behavior must be observed by everyone working with children or youth. Behavior should be guided by common sense, decency, and respect for the dignity of each person, as well as the Behavioral 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 reasonable cause to suspect child abuse, a violation of law, or of this Safe Environment Policy must immediately 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 reasonable cause to suspect child abuse may have occurred, this must 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 our behavioral guidelines and be cleared through the Safe Environment Training.

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

Behavioral Guidelines

Roles. Maintain clear and appropriate roles when interacting with children

  • Serve as a role model
  • Act consistently with your appropriate adult role, such as teacher or mentor
  • Avoid acting as a peer or an alternative parent

Boundaries. Set and promote awareness of appropriate boundaries in all relationships with children

  • Establish and maintain healthy boundaries to ensure interactions with children are safe, healthy and positive
  • Be alert to the comfort zones of different children

Power. Use your influence and authority to promote the healthy development of children

  • Be alert to the imbalance of power between adults and children
  • Use your influence to promote the healthy development of children
  • Put the wellbeing and emotional needs of children before your own

Accountability. Act accountably for the benefit of children

  • Always act in the best interest of children
  • Take responsibility for the impact of your actions on children and others
  • Seek and accept assistance for personal issues before they impact children
  • Actively support others in the effort to meet these behavioral standards
  • Communicate concerns about possible misconduct to the appropriate persons