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Child Protection Policy (HP)

C.H.E.E.R. Child Protection Policy

Scripture teaches that our children are members of God’s covenant people (Genesis 17:7, Matthew 19:14). CHEER is committed to glorifying God by providing a safe environment for our children, youth, and adults. CHEER intends to promote practices that safeguard our children and youth from all forms of abuse and mistreatment. These guidelines will also protect those who serve children from false accusations. This document applies to any person volunteering at CHEER in any capacity involving children.

Definitions

Legally, a child is any person under the age of 18. Child abuse is any action (or lack of action) which endangers or harms a child’s physical, mental, or emotional health and development. Child abuse occurs in different ways and includes the following:

• Physical abuse – any non-accidental physical injury to a child, such as beating, shaking, burning, or biting

• Emotional abuse – emotional injury when a child is not nurtured or provided with love and security, such as an environment of constant criticism, belittling, persistent threatening, or teasing

• Sexual abuse – any sexual activity between a child and an adult or between a child and another child at least four years older than the victim, including activities such as fondling, intercourse, incest, exhibitionism, and pornography

Safe Conduct and Practices

By approving a person to minister to children, CHEER approves them for a special task: a task that requires, in addition to the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), wisdom and the exercise of good judgment. Children’s safety and welfare must be the primary concern of everyone attending them. Every teacher, parent and caregiver, whether adult or adolescent, is always responsible for providing virtuous care, vigilant protection, and a safe environment for children in their charge. Also, teachers, parents and caregivers must avoid and endeavor to prevent any situation that could appear improper. Those goals are achieved by thoughtful, sincere, and diligent application of the following measures, any time and anywhere children are present.

• Teachers, parents and caregivers should seek to avoid being alone with only one child (unless it is their own child) in any room or isolated area (including situations where visibility from adjoining hallways is obstructed), except restroom visits or diaper changes.

• Teachers, parents and caregivers should not allow any child under the age of six to enter any bathroom or isolated area alone or to remain alone in any bathroom or isolated area.

• Teachers, parents and caregivers should avoid touching any child unless a second adult is present or the child is in imminent danger and should use discretion when initiating touch and refrain from touch that may make a child uncomfortable.

• Teachers, parents and caregivers should use gentle discipline, such as verbal correction or redirection, and should summon a child’s parents if other discipline is required.

• Teachers, parents and caregivers must protect children in their charge from unkind or abusive treatment by any child, youth, or adult.

Reporting Child Abuse

In the case of an accusation of child abuse at CHEER, it must be addressed in accordance with Scripture and the civil authority as ordained by God. Georgia law, in subsection (c) of O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5, requires that persons employed by or volunteering at a business or an organization, whether public, private, for profit, not for profit, or voluntary, that provides care, treatment, education, training, supervision, coaching, counseling, recreational programs, or shelter to children and having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused shall notify the person in charge of the event, or the designated delegate thereof. A volunteer who makes a report to the person designated pursuant to this paragraph shall be deemed to have fully complied with this subsection. At CHEER, the designated delegates are the people in charge of an event- the event coordinator, an E-day director, or the members of the CHEER Board. All incidents will then be reported to the CHEER Board.

If any volunteer has reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused, he/she shall proceed with the following steps:

• Remove the child from the presence of the accused and ensure the safety of other children in the area.

• The volunteer shall immediately report to the event coordinator or a CHEER Board member if appropriate.

• The CHEER Board and/or event coordinator shall notify the civil authorities within 24 hours in accordance with the laws of the State of Georgia. CHEER Child Protection Policy Commitments • I will make an effort not to be alone or isolated with a child, except as permitted by these guidelines

• I will use discretion when initiating touch with children, and I will not do so unless another adult is present. I will refrain from any touch that makes a child uncomfortable.

• If I am the only adult left in a room with a class I will move immediately to an observable area.

• If I observe a violation of our safe conduct and practices I will gently but firmly remind the person of our policy. If they refuse I will inform the event coordinator and/or the CHEER Board.

• I am a mandated reporter of abuse, and I will report in compliance with the procedures of CHEER and Georgia law. I have read and fully understand these children’s ministry guidelines and agree to abide by them.