To insure the safety of our youth and protect our youth workers, we have developed safety protocols which our ministry enforces.
Disclosure: Suicide/Self Harm
Dangerous & Illegal Activities
Disclosure: Sexual and Physical Abuse
DISCLOSURE: SUICIDE/ SELF HARM
Suicide is the second-leading cause of teen death. When a student discusses suicide, we don’t take it lightly. What constitutes a serious threat? Although no disclosures should be minimized, if a student has a plan—a time, place or method (any one of these three issues) then we must act immediately. Self harm, like cutting, could be treated differently, but consult with your sphere leader for advice.
- Never promise to keep it a secret. Tell them you will be responsible with the information.
- Try to remove any accessibility to the means; however, never try to physically remove a weapon from a suicidal person. You want them to surrender it voluntarily
- Stay with them and use positive persuasion. Be positive, remain calm and empathetic. Use questions to help separate and define the issues. This will help remove some of the confusion in their minds. Show them how suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Persuade how they can have a positive impact on others. Don't stress the kind of pain it would cause their family or you (punishment is one key motives for suicide). Don't call the person's bluff, daring him or her to go through with it.
- Make sure the parents are informed. If a student has a plan, then in most cases, you should call the parents immediately. If the student doesn’t have a plan, but only passing thoughts, it is wise to persuade the student to tell his/her parents. Follow up later with the parents to verify the student has told them. Verify with the parents sooner rather than later. If the parents already know about the danger and have the child in counseling, this could be adequate, but timing and frequency of ideation is important, so consult your sphere leader for advice.
- Refer suicide threats or ideation to outside professional counseling. We do not feel youth workers are qualified to handle such dangerous situations. These cases should be referred to a licensed medical professional, so immediate referral is imperative.
- What if threat is urgent?
- Life threatening cases: Immediately call 911. While waiting for police to arrive, consider contacting one of the crises hotline centers listed below for advice. Also, try to get the student to talk with them while you are present.
- Call Hotline Centers Open 24/7, 365 days per year.
- Franklin County Psychiatric Crises Hotline (614) 722-1800. For students ages 17 and under
- NetCare (614) 276-2273. For students ages 18+
- National Suicide Hotline 988
- Teen Hotline (614) 294-3300
- Franklin County Suicide Hotline (614) 221-5445. For any age
- North Central Mental Care (614)221-5445. This number also serves as a text hotline from 12 pm -10 pm, Monday-Friday
- Crisis Text Line 741-741. 24 hr service via text
- Intake or Outpatient Psychiatric Centers
- Nationwide Children’s for students ages 14 and under
- OSU Wexner Center for students ages 15-17
- NetCare for students ages 18+
- Report and get advice
- Please know we treat sensitive information with the utmost discretion
- Contact your home church and sphere leader for advice.
- Email email@example.com and copy your home church and sphere leader as soon as possible. The report should include the student’s first and last name, age, a description of what was disclosed, what you advised and any action you took, including any communication to the parents.
- For other forms of self harm, like cutting, please consult with your sphere leader and email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DANGEROUS & ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES
The following policy should be adhered to regarding the participation in potentially dangerous & illegal activities while engaged in youth work. Failure to comply with this policy will result in disciplinary action. Please see to it that all of the work force in your group is familiar with this policy.
- No minor or adult youth worker is permitted to engage in illegal activities, as provided for in the City Ordinance of Columbus, the Ohio Revised Code, or other applicable laws or statutes during a Dwell sponsored event.
- If there is an activity that is potentially dangerous, yet legal, the student group youth worker must receive a signed written waiver from the participating minor's parents or guardians in order for the minor to participate. Additionally, student groups workers must exercise good judgment not to incur undue risks.
The following is a policy to be adhered to regarding the consumption of alcohol while engaging in youth work. Failure to comply with this policy will result in disciplinary action which could include the withdrawal of an individual youth worker from the student group or the withdrawal of an individual from a position of leadership in Dwell. As per the enclosed Ohio Revised Code, no one under the age of 21 years can legally consume alcohol without consent and presence of their parents, legal guardians, or spouse (if spouse is 21 years of age or older). Accordingly, we observe three rules outlined below. See the attached relevant sections of the Ohio Revised Code as well. Please see to it that all of the work force in your group is familiar with this policy. As per Sections 4301.63 and 4301.69 of the Ohio Revised Code, "Underage person" includes any person under the age of 21 years.
- No underage person is permitted to consume alcohol at any Dwell sponsored event except as otherwise provided in Section 4301.69 (B) of the enclosed Ohio Revised Code.
- Under no circumstances should any youth student worker provide underage persons with alcoholic beverages except as otherwise provided in Section 4301.69 (A) of the enclosed Ohio Revised Code.
- Youth workers may not consume alcohol at youth sponsored events.
The leaders of the Dwell Community Church felt it necessary to adopt a policy for the Student Ministries Division regarding sexual misconduct and youth workers. By no means do we believe that our church could be immune to such an occurrence; therefore, we feel an aggressive position should be taken in protecting against incidents of sexual misconduct between youth workers and minors in our youth groups. In doing this we will be protecting minors and their families from the trauma associated with such incidents, as well as protecting our church. The risk of sexual contacts between youth workers and youth group members can never be eliminated, but steps can be taken to significantly reduce the risk of sexual seduction. Below are policies that need to be followed by all youth workers.
- Youth workers should not be alone with a youth member of the opposite sex.
- This means that a youth male worker should not be permitted to drive an unaccompanied female student either to or from fellowship activities. Youth male workers should be strictly prohibited from having sole custody of a female member of the youth group at any time, for any reason, with few exceptions (e.g., a younger brother or sister of the youth worker). Youth female workers should also follow this guideline with male members of the youth group. It also means that the male youth worker and a female member of the youth group should not be permitted to engage in private counseling sessions, or to associate alone, with few exceptions. The same would be true with a youth female worker and a male youth student. Also, it would be wise to have at least two youth workers, preferably male and female, chaperone until the last youth leaves the meeting.
- Inappropriate touch
- The youth worker should not engage in inappropriate physical touch with youth members of the opposite sex. Some types are listed below:
- Sitting on the lap of an youth worker
- Prolonged frontal embrace
- Inappropriate communication
- The youth worker should not engage in inappropriate discussions with youth members of the opposite sex.
Any suspicions of inappropriate conduct should be immediately confronted and investigated.
Investigations into any possible violations of this policy or other types of sexual misconduct, should be conducted. Failure of youth workers to comply with this policy will result in disciplinary action that could include the withdrawal of the worker from the student group. If the worker is not dismissed, prompt warnings should be issued when appropriate, and the situation monitored very closely by the leadership of the group.
Any violations of the above policies should be immediately reported to the Senior Leader of the Ministry Team. If the Senior Leader of the youth program has violated the above policies, then the Division Coordinator of Student Outreach and/or the eldership of Dwell should be notified.
Sexual relationships with minor members of the youth group could lead to a felony conviction and imprisonment in a state penitentiary.
DISCLOSURE: SEXUAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSE
Physical and Sexual Abuse
1. Do not promise to keep it a secret. Tell them you will be responsible with the information.
2. Because churches are mandatory reporters by law and for the well being of children, we must report abuse disclosures to Franklin County Children’s Services (FCCS) as soon as possible. Call 614-229-7000. Because Dwell youth workers are mandated reporters, FCCS requires you give them your name. However, FCCS is not permitted to disclose your name to the family. If you are not certain abuse is in play, contact your sphere leader for advice and email our email@example.com for advice.
3. FCCS advises we don't communicate our reporting actions to the student or family so as not to raise any unnecessary concerns.
4. Use questions and do not assume anything. Questions help separate and define issues and will help inform the direction you need to take. Be empathetic and understanding.
5. Report. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and copy your home church and sphere leader as soon as possible. The report should include the student’s first and last name, age, a description of what was disclosed, the date of the disclosure, what you advised and any whether you reported the issue to FCCS.
6. In the event of an emergency, call 911. If non-life threatening, call the city police non- emergency line.
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