by Patti Chapman/ May 18, 2016
Parents take note of the value we place on the safety of their children. By taking safety and security seriously, we say to them, “We care.” Children’s leaders are constantly involved in planning multiple events every year. Those plans must include a good safety and security plan that protects everyone involved.
Many factors will affect the details of any safety plans you implement. To provide a high level of security for your next event, consider these basic questions to can ask yourself when creating your security plan:
Who will be attending the event? Is the event for children only or is the family included? If the parents or guardians are staying, we assume they will be responsible for their own children. However, even though parents are present, it is still the church’s responsibility to make sure the environment is safe and secure.
If parents are not staying, the level of security must increase. The church must provide a level of security where parents feel comfortable about leaving their child. At minimum this should include a check-in and check-out system. Include the following basic information: the parent or responsible adult’s first and last name, first and last name of the child, emergency contact information, appropriate medical information, allergies, time checked in and time checked out, and an identification worn by the child, e.g., name badge, label.
Have I identified a security team? Some form of security team should be a part of any event that includes children. This team will monitor the surroundings for unusual behavior, unauthorized people, potential accidents, or facilitation of emergency procedures. The security team should have a level of training appropriate to the event. For larger events, in addition to the volunteer-led security team, it is a good idea to have uniformed security officers. There may be people in your church community that work in security and would gladly lend their skill.
How does location affect our safety and security? Whether the event is located inside or outside will affect security. What kinds of environmental elements should you expect based on the location? Do you have control of the environment or are you sharing space with others who are not part of the event? Is this happening in a place where a kid can wonder off? Is this a place where an adult or older child could have opportunity to potentially harm a child? Take time to process and prepare for all potential risks with your event team.
Does our insurance cover what we have planned? Your insurance provider is your friend. They can alert you to any potential problems from an insurance perspective and whether or not there are limitations on what you can do based on the insurance coverage your church carries.
Where is that first-aid kit? This seems very obvious, but have at least one stocked and up-to-date first-aid kit in a well marked, designated first-aid facility or area. Be sure all volunteers know the location. Check to be sure the gloves don’t have holes, especially if you have had the kit for more than a year. When addressing first-aid issues, be very aware of giving more aid than needed. More harm than help can come from administering too much help. For larger events, it’s important to have a trained person ready to address any medical needs that may arise.
Do we want to take pictures or videos to share? Photographs or video seem to be a part of most events, and many of those make it to social media. Never share or post a photograph of a child on social media without their parent’s consent. An easy way to obtain consent is to include a consent form as part of the registration. Then identify those that do not give consent by a bright sticker that photographers and videographers can see. Also make sure your staff and volunteers know these rules apply to them as well.
Well-trained volunteers and staff are key to any event being safe and secure for children. Train your team to be knowledgeable about first-aid policies, emergency protocols, environmental considerations, and physical boundaries. Well-thought-out planning and preparation will help to ensure everyone has the fun you have planned, and after the event they’ll be looking forward to your next great event.