The Acts of Convention

Year   
         
Full Legislative History

Resolution Number: 2003-B008
Title: Protect Children and Youth from Abuse
Legislative Action Taken: Concurred
Final Text:

Resolved, That the 74th General Convention of The Episcopal Church recommit itself to the vision of the role of children in the church as articulated in A Children's Charter for the Church as adopted by the 72nd General Convention in 1997. The Charter, among other things, calls the church to:

  • Receive, nurture, and treasure each child as a gift from God;
  • Love, shelter, protect, and defend children within its own community and in the world, especially those who are abused, neglected, or in danger; and
  • Advocate for the integrity of childhood and the dignity of all children at every level of our religious, civic, and political structures; and be it further

Resolved, That this Church acknowledge that the times and circumstances demand that the church articulate a clear and firm commitment to the safety of all, especially children; that we support this commitment with clear and firm policies and procedures for the well-being of all; and that we commit this Church to being and becoming a place where children and youth are safe, especially from abuse and neglect; and be it further

Resolved, That each diocese develop and adopt policies for the protection of children and youth from abuse that address the following:

  1. A screening and selection process for all clergy, lay employees, and volunteers who regularly work with children or youth. Dioceses are encouraged to consider:
    a.A written application
    b.A public records check
    c.An interview
    d.Reference checks
    e.A general provision that volunteers not work with children or youth until they have been known to the clergy or congregation for at least six months
  2. The articulation of behavioral standards for clergy, lay employees, and volunteers working with children or youth. Dioceses are encouraged to consider:
    a.Respect for the privacy and dignity of children and youth by not putting them in inappropriate unmonitored one-to-one situations
    b.Age-appropriate arrangements for sleeping, bathing, dressing, or showering
    c.The prohibition of dating, romantic involvements, or sexual contact with a child or youth
    d.The prohibition of any sexually oriented materials (magazines, cards, videos, films, clothing, etc.) in the presence of children and youth except as expressly permitted as part of a pre-authorized educational program
    e.Guidelines for physical contact and expressions of affection that define appropriate and inappropriate behaviors
    f.The prohibition of discussing their own sexual activities and fantasies with children or youth
    g.The prohibition of the non-sacramental use, possession, distribution or being under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or the misuse of legal drugs
  3. The monitoring of programs and interaction with children and youth. Dioceses are encouraged to consider:
    a.The prohibition of the development or initiation of new activities for children or youth without prior approval from the appropriate decision-maker(s)
    b.The recognition that the ordinary standard is the presence of two unrelated adults for any activities involving children or youth
  4. Education and training. Dioceses are encouraged to consider:
    a.Child abuse prevention for clergy, lay employees, and volunteers who regularly work with children or youth
    b.Specialized training for those who recruit, screen, or select persons to work with children or youth
  5. Guidelines for responding to concerns. Dioceses are encouraged to consider:
    a.Inappropriate behavior with children or youth
    b.Violation of policies for the protection of children or youth
    c.Suspected abuse of children or youth;and be it further

Resolved, That each diocese shall report to the House of Bishops Committee on Pastoral Development prior to the Spring 2006 meeting of the House of Bishops with a copy of its adopted and implemented policy and an evaluation of the history of its use. A summary report shall be made to the House of Bishops Spring 2006 meeting and a full report made to the 75th General Convention.

Citation: General Convention, Journal of the General Convention of...The Episcopal Church, Minneapolis, 2003 (New York: General Convention, 2004), pp. 255-257.