CARING WELL POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Hillsboro encourages children to attend the worship portion of Sunday service at 10:00am with their families before being dismissed to Children’s Church. In their Children's Church class, which is located in the education wing, they will learn and discuss a story from the Bible, occasionally watch a related video, sing songs, and do fun crafts/games related to the story. This is provided for children ages 3 through 10. Nursery care is also available for 0-2 year olds, from the beginning to the end of the Sunday morning service.
Along with an annual summer VBS program, Hillsboro offers other special events geared towards children and their families throughout the year.
Every Wednesday at 6:00pm we gather to pray, typically at Pastor Jimmy D.'s home. EM Bounds said, "To be little with God is to be little for God," and "Without prayer, the Gospel can neither be preached effectively, promulgated faithfully, experienced in the heart, nor be practiced in the life. And for the very simple reason that by leaving prayer out of the catalogue of religious duties, we leave God out, and His work cannot progress without Him." We take seriously the privilege and command to pray at Hillsboro.
Join us in this vital work as we pray for the church, one another, the country and the nations.
Sunday evenings from 5:00-7:00pm Pause meets together, a time for students to dive into God's Word and cultivate community in a Christian context. Pause typically meets in the fellowship hall and begins with some food, fun games, and time in God's Word. Previous studies we have done include David Platt's Counter Culture, JD Greear's
Gospel Above All, and studies through different books of the Bible. Pause is focused on encouraging students to take a break from the hectic parts of their lives and grow together in Christ while also having fun.
Other special student activities and events are planned throughout the year, such as missions trips, conferences, and retreats.
GriefShare is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. You don’t have to go through the grieving process alone. Whether the loss of your loved one is recent or many years ago, GriefShare can help equip you with the tools you need to walk through your grief.
There is no cost to attend GriefShare meetings, and no one is ever required to speak if they don't wish to. Sessions typically run for 12 weeks. More information will be posted when a new group begins. Please share this information with friends, coworkers, neighbors, or family who may be walking through a season of grief.
The Adult Ministries program exists to help connect, grow, and equip people for life, ministry, service, and outreach. We accomplish this through a Bible teaching, worship filled service each Sunday, a dynamic worship ministry, different mission opportunities, small group studies and fellowship gatherings.
Men's Bible study meets Saturday mornings at 6:30am for breakfast and time in the Word.
Women's Bible Study meets Thursday evenings at 6:00pm in the fellowship hall.
Sunday School happens at 9:00am for all ages Sunday morning, meeting for about 10 weeks before taking a month break.
Youth/Young Adult Ministries
The following was formally adopted by a unanimous congregational vote on September 24, 2023
Hillsboro Baptist Church’s Caring Well Policies and Procedures
As a church, our goal is to glorify Jesus by faithfully serving others with His grace and truth. We strive in all areas for Hillsboro Baptist Church to remain a place free of abuse and a place where abuse survivors feel safe and heard. These policies and procedures will help us prevent, identify and report sexual abuse. To God be the glory in all things.
Below you will find three main components:
1. Hiring/Screening Policies
2. Operating Practices and Procedures for the Children’s Ministry
3. Dealing with Disclosure; Reporting Instances of Abuse
Below are the six components of our hiring/screening policy for all employees and ministry leader volunteers wanting to serve anyone below eighteen years of age.
1. Written application.
2. Background check.
3. Reference checks.
4. Interview with pastor and ministry leader.
5. Social media review.
6. Orientation and training.
Of note: an individual must be actively engaged in the life of the congregation for one full year before the opportunity to regularly volunteer as a ministry leader in the children and/or youth ministry.
1. WRITTEN APPLICATION
Applicant will need to fill out a written application by answering the following:
Please list all experience you have working with children/youth. Include any paid positions, babysitting, volunteer positions, summer jobs, camps, or church work. Please provide start date, reason for leaving, position and responsibilities, supervisor, and contact information.
Have you ever been suspended, asked to leave, or fired from a job? Please explain.
Have you ever been suspended or expelled from high school or college? Please explain.
Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Please list dates and nature of offense.
Have you ever been accused of hurting or abusing a child?
Have you ever been asked to step down from a position of leadership in a church? Please explain time frame and details.
Describe an area where you need improvement or is challenging for you in working with children or youth.
What characteristics do you possess that make you a good fit for working with children/youth?
Do you consent to the church reaching out to check all previous employment and volunteer positions related to your work with children, including references you may not have listed?
2. BACKGROUND CHECK
For those wanting to serve as a children’s ministry leader, background checks must be done prior to an individual serving with those under eighteen years of age. (Youth between the ages of 14-17, unless convicted as an adult of a serious violent or sexual crime, will not have any available criminal record to see. However, a teenager may have a criminal “adjudication” of guilty for such a crime on their sealed juvenile record. Often, such instances of abuse are inflicted upon child victims to whom the offending youth has access. So then, for a youth who wants to serve in the children’s ministry, the parent(s) are required to disclose any such adjudication prior to being allowed to volunteer with the children. Such disclosure will be maintained in confidence except on a need-to-know basis among church staff, legal counsel, etc.)
Background checks must be re-done every two years if an individual wants to keep serving in the children’s or youth ministries as a leader.
To complete a background check, please email the church secretary (email@example.com) with your full name and email address. She will then relay your information to Sure Hire Background Checks (https://surehirebackgroundchecks.com), and they will follow up by email requesting more information (such as SSN, addresses, etc.).
Once Hillsboro Baptist Church receives the report from Sure Hire, know that only pertinent church employees or ministry leaders will have access to this private information.
To be clear, anyone who has a record involving violent crimes, sexual crimes, or crimes against minors will not be allowed to volunteer with children or youth.
3. REFERENCE CHECKS
An applicant must provide three references: a professional, a personal (non-family), and a previous pastor. Please provide each reference’s full name, phone number, and email address.
Representatives from Hillsboro will reach out to conduct a phone interview to ensure the applicant is suitable for serving children and/or youth.
Reference checks will occur prior to making a staff or volunteer placement decision and will be taken seriously.
Employment references will be verified for accuracy and job performance.
Other churches or ministries where the applicant has served will be contacted regarding those positions and the individual’s interaction with children and youth.
The following is a list of questions each reference will be asked:
Verify the position, responsibilities, and start and end date of the applicant.
Relationship with the applicant, and how long have you known him/her?
Describe the applicant’s interaction with children/youth.
Describe the applicant’s interaction with supervisors and those in authority.
What strengths does the applicant possess in working with children/youth?
What weaknesses or challenges did the applicant have in working with children/youth?
Do you have any hesitancy in recommending this applicant to work with children/youth?
Would your organization have this person back in the future?
4. INTERVIEW WITH PASTOR, MINISTRY LEADER, AND PERSONNEL
Applicant will answer direct questions in-person about prior jobs and interaction with children and youth. Applicant will be informed of the child protection policies and the expected adherence. Questions will include:
What makes you desire to serve with our organization?
Is there an age group of children you prefer to work with? If so, why?
What sort of supervisors do you work well with and what sort of supervisors are difficult for you?
Have you reviewed our child protection policies? What did you think of them?
Is there anything in your past we should know about as we consider you for this position?
Would anyone be concerned about you working with children or students? Why or why not?
What would you do if a student expressed to you a hesitancy to be around another employee or volunteer or a dislike for that individual?
Tell me what you would do in this scenario. We have a policy of avoiding isolation with a child. One day, you walk through the hall and find a child alone with a teacher in a classroom behind a closed door. When you come in, the teacher says that the child was misbehaving and needed to be corrected in private. Nothing appears to be going on that is inappropriate. The teacher says they are ready to rejoin the others. What do you do?
You notice bruises up and down the legs of one of your students. When you ask what happened the child gets teary eyed and says his dad whipped him. Under our policies, would you report this to the authorities?
What do you like to do with your free time?
5. SOCIAL MEDIA REVIEW
Applicant’s social media profiles and history will be reviewed. Please provide usernames, social profiles, and relevant links.
6. ORIENTATION AND TRAINING
The final step in the hiring and recruitment process is the orientation and training of new volunteers and employees regarding the specified ministry area (nursery, children’s or youth) and the Caring Well policies we have in place.
Caring Well orientation has two main components:
1. Review the entirety of the Hillsboro Baptist Church Caring Well Policies and Procedures document.
2. Complete the online curriculum, “Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused.” To gain access to this course, which can be tracked to ensure completion, please provide your full name and email address to the church secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org). The link to create and access your account will be emailed to you. https://ministrygrid.lifeway.com. This online training will take approximately 2 hours.
Operating Policies, Practices and Procedures for Children’s Ministry
CHECK IN/OUT PROCEDURES
Children are a blessing from God and are more than welcome to be a part of the entire main service in the sanctuary. However, after the songs and prayer, children (ages 3-10) are welcome to attend “children's church” to further grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus while parents do the same in the sanctuary.
For those who would like for their children to be a part of the children’s service, upon arriving at Hillsboro parents will need to check in their child with a children’s ministry leader (the greeter will be able to direct parents to the proper contact point). Parents of first time children’s church participants will need to provide their phone number, the child’s name, who’s allowed to pick up their children, and any allergies their child may have.
During dismissal time in the middle of the service, a children’s ministry leader and a member of the security team will lead the children to the adjacent education wing.
During or after the service, only the child’s parents or those who have been given explicit permission will be able to pick the children up.
For children 0-2 years of age, a nursery is provided for the entirety of the main service. Parents who would like to drop off a child in the nursery need to provide their phone number, the child’s name, who’s allowed to pick their children up, and any allergies their child may have to a nursery volunteer in the education wing.
WHO WILL BE WITH MY KIDS?
To ensure children’s safety, at least one background-checked and vetted adult leader will be present with the children.
WHO ELSE MAY BE PRESENT IN THE CHILDREN’S WING?
Other volunteers, including younger members of the congregation (14-17) known to the church, may also be present with a background-checked, vetted ministry leader assisting in children’s church.
“KNOWN TO THE CHURCH” RULE
To become a children’s ministry leader or nursery leader, one must be “known to the church” for one full year. That is, a potential children’s ministry leader must have twelve months of consistent attendance and engagement in the life of the congregation. Only then will he/she be able to begin the application process to serve as a leader in the children’s or youth ministry.
DOORS WITH WINDOWS
All rooms are fixated with a door that has a window. In addition, during children’s church all classroom doors will be locked.
SECURITY CAMERA SYSTEM
The church building and grounds are being continuously monitored by a camera surveillance system.
CHILDREN’S WING SECURITY TEAM
During dismissal time for children’s church, a designated member of the security team will accompany the children’s ministry leader to the education wing to ensure the children arrive to their classrooms safely. Later on, a security team member will circulate the education wing to check on the safety and well-being of the children, volunteers and leaders.
SPECIAL EVENTS (SUCH AS VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL)
We realize that certain events are naturally more open to the public in terms of children that may be involved and the interest level of potential volunteers. So, if a person who is not normally connected to the church would like to volunteer for an event such as VBS, he or she must sign a waiver stating he or she will walk in an upright manner before God and others, and specifically he or she will acknowledge he or she cannot and will not be left alone with kids. The special events volunteer will always be alongside a ministry leader who has been background-checked and vetted.
In order to stay unified as a team and alert at all times, volunteers and staff will need to complete yearly training. Every year this will alternate between online training and in-person training. This will typically occur on the 3rd weekend of September, involving a Friday evening and/or Saturday morning session(s). The online training to be conducted every other year can be completed remotely.
Resources that may be used for reference and training:
Safe Ministries sample policies: https://safeministry.org.au/resource-docs/
The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches by Boz Tchividjian and Shira M Berkovits: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Safeguarding-Policy-Churches-Ministries/dp/1945270055
Sample policies and free awareness training by MinistrySafe: https://ministrysafe.com/the-safety-system/policies-procedures/
GRACE Safeguarding Initiative: If a church goes through the GRACE certification pro- gram, they will have at least one expert help them in developing their policies: https://www.netgrace.org/policy-review
Safe Hiring Solutions provides resources on how to incorporate sexual abuse prevention into your general safety policies for your church: https://www.safehiringsolutions.com/southern-baptist-convention
CDC policy guide: The Centers for Disease Control has an online guide on developing policies which includes sample questions for screening, etc.: https://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/PreventingChildSexualAbuse-a.pdf
Darkness to Light sample code of conduct: https://www.d2l.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/SAMPLE-CODE-OF-CONDUCT.pdf
Zero Abuse Project has information for parents teaching their children about how to keep themselves safe:https://www.zeroabuseproject.org/victim-assistance/jwrc/keep-kids-safe/
Darkness to Light has written about how to make camp a safer experience for children: https://www.d2l.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/SaferCampExperiences.pdf
How to talk to children about body safety: https://www.d2l.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Talk-to-Kids-Body-Safety_-JTM.pdf
Dealing with Disclosure and Reporting Instances of Abuse
There are four main components of how we as a church will deal with disclosure of abuse.
1. Support of a Care Team.
2. Plan of action for reporting abuse.
3. Connection with local agencies that work with survivors of abuse.
4. Interacting with the accused perpetrator.
1. CARE TEAM
A care team is simply a group of faithful church members who are designated to walk alongside a survivor who has disclosed abuse. Each scenario and survivor will be different, so the specific team needed may be different for each survivor as well. The care team will consist of 2-4 people, made up of men and women, as both genders bring a unique and invaluable perspective.
The care team’s responsibility is to 1. Consider the needs and agency (an individual’s ability to make his/her own free choices) of the survivor, and to 2. Protect the survivor’s confidentiality.
1. Consider the needs and agency of the survivor.
Each survivor has walked through a unique nightmare. Some may need immediate medical or mental health attention. Others may simply need a listening ear for the time being as they process what has happened to them. Some may need help discerning their legal options for reporting and holding their perpetrator accountable. Others may be children for whom swift action is required to report the abuse and protect them from a dangerous situation.
Whatever actions need to be taken, it is imperative upon the care team to hear and respect the agency of the survivor. The survivor’s agency, or ability to make his or her own free choices, was taken during the abuse, so the survivor should be allowed to determine when and how care proceeds.
Additionally, it is crucial that the care team respond very delicately if the survivor is a child. For example, expressing anger or disbelief can lead to even more confusion and trauma, causing the child to shut down. Children need to know that we believe them and that we will do everything we can to keep them safe.
2. Ensure the protection of the survivor’s confidentiality.
Protecting the identity and story of the survivor is paramount. A survivor should be consulted about who they want to be told about their abuse. Although it is important to communicate with the congregation when abuse occurs, it is not necessary to identify the survivor or break their trust by divulging their identity. Include only those people who are necessary and have been welcomed by the survivor.
2. REPORTING ABUSE
As we think about abuse against a minor, there are three contexts to consider: 1. A child disclosing an experience of abuse 2. Observations of a child that make us “reasonably suspicious” abuse may be occurring, 3. Hearing from a parent or other adult who knows about the abuse of a child, and is confused about what to do next.
1. Child disclosing abuse - When you realize a child may be disclosing an experience of abuse, you want to affirm their choice to speak. For children, the unpleasant feelings that often come with talking about bad experiences can easily be mistaken for guilt. You want to let the minor know, “I may not be able to keep everything you tell me confidential. If you are in danger, I have a responsibility to make sure you are safe. That may require us to involve people who can help us make sure you’re safe.” This is not to dissuade their disclosure, but help protect the child from feeling betrayed by the report that is filed.
2. Observations of a child - You may see a child with bruises, scars, broken bones, or a flinch reflex to movements from a nearby adult. You may notice highly sexualized or aggressive behavior in a child too young to understand the significance of their actions. You may notice artwork or writing with themes that reveal an awareness of abusive behaviors and pain that are beyond what is age appropriate. They may not want to go home, may be scared of their parents, etc. These traits represent the legal standard for “reasonable suspicion” for which a report should be made. It is not the role of the church to investigate these matters, but to ensure that they are investigated by civil authorities and to care for the child.
3. Talking to an adult who knows about abuse - Chances are, the adult talking to you also knows the powerlessness of being abused. They’re not just sharing the child’s story; they are likely sharing their own. It is important to share your obligation to report; even if the adult or parent is the abuser. But in addition to that, listen to their questions, help them organize their questions, invite them to make the phone call to Child Protective Services with you, assure them you’ll ensure they get guidance on their questions before the CPS conversation concludes. During the phone call with the social worker, they will explain what next steps will be taken and discuss advisable safety precautions. Take notes to help your friend remember what is being said, and listen to your friend as they process their fears as the conversation concludes. Your job, in addition to making sure the report is made, is twofold: (a) make sure your friend faces no preventable surprises, and (b) ensure your friend knows that he or she does not have to remember everything that is being said.
When in doubt, Hillsboro will err on the side of making a report to both CPS and law enforcement. There needs to be more than a feeling, but less than certainty.
Under Virginia Code Section 63.2-1509, Section 11 states “Any person 18 years of age of older associated with or employed by any public or private organization responsible for the care, custody or control of children;” and Section 19 states "Any minister...or duly accredited practitioner of any religious organization or denomination usually referred to as a church…”
Also, as per Subsection D of the above Virginia Code Section, a report must be made within 24 hours of having reason to suspect a reportable offense of child abuse or neglect. Failure to do so may result in a fine of up to $500 for the first failed timely report. The fine increases after the first offense and failure to report suspected serious sexual crimes such as rape can result in a criminal violation of a Class 1 Misdemeanor which is currently punishable by incarceration of up 12 months in jail and/or a $2500 fine.
To make a report for children, contact:
1. Albemarle County Department of Social Services (Child Protective Services)
Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm, 434-972-4010
After 5:00pm nights, weekends and holidays, call the statewide Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline toll-free at 800-552-7096 (in Virginia) or 804-786-8536 (Out-of-State).
2. Albemarle County Police Department
1600 5th Street, Suite D
Charlottesville, VA 22902
If child abuse is discovered, the local Child Advocacy Center (CACs) is an invaluable resource to tap into. CACs are designed to protect children from having to tell their traumatic stories of abuse over and over again. When a child makes a disclosure of abuse, he or she should be taken to a CAC where a trained interviewer will ask the right questions to record the child’s story without retraumatizing him or her. From there, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, mental health, prosecution, child protective services, victim advocacy, and other professionals can use the recorded interview to make decisions about how to proceed and protect the child.
Foothills Child Advocacy Center
1106 East High Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
For more information on reporting abuse concerning children, please refer to https://bradhambrick.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Guidelines-for-Reporting-Child-Abuse-and-Neglect.pdf
When abuse is against an adult, the adult victim is granted the choice about whether to get a restraining order (civil court) or to press charges (criminal court). This is a legitimately difficult decision. Legal action makes their experience public and requires them to go through a legal process where “innocent until proven guilty” requires cross examination. Allowing the victim to make this decision is part of restoring their voice and giving them back a sense of control over the major events of their life. It is wise for a victim to make this decision with the advisement of a counselor and/or attorney experienced with abuse cases and the legal process.
When an adult discloses abuse, whether recently or as a child, we will not ask too many questions about the details, or questions such as, “Why didn’t you tell me/anyone sooner?” Often times questions are experienced as disbelief or result in further guilt and shame. Instead, we will ask broader questions, such as, “How are you doing?”, “How can I help you?”, and “What are you fearful of?” Our responsibility is to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15), to let the victim know we recognize the evil they have experienced, and it matters. “I am so sorry. This is wrong. I am grieved to know you have suffered this way. This grieves the heart of God.”
During the initial disclosure, it’s not the time to look for the silver lining or look to see what God’s doing in the situation, try to fix the situation or make things immediately better (those things come later in the counseling journey). The main goal is to listen with compassion, validate the story, and offer support.
1. An Adult Who was Abused as a Child
If an adult discloses that they have been abused as a child, a question that will be raised during this initial conversation is, “Does your abuser have any access to children at this time?” If the answer is “yes,” then this constitutes “reasonable suspicion” of a child being abused and a CPS report needs to be made about the perpetrator.
2. An Adult who Discloses Current Physical, Sexual, Emotional or Verbal Abuse
The goal of the care team is to (1) believe the victim and affirm their courage (2) connect the victim to experienced resources, and (3) help them create a safety plan (https://bradhambrick.com/safetyplan/)
On a related note, the church will report to authorities anyone who intends to physically hurt him or herself or others.
3. LOCAL CONNECTIONS
When someone at Hillsboro makes a disclosure of abuse, we see it as imperative to utilize local law enforcement and appropriate professionals who are trained and prepared to handle such difficult situations. The resources available in the community as listed below will help to take the pressure off in the midst of crisis. To be clear, we do not think of referral as a handoff, for the church will continue to walk alongside the survivor as they desire.
Child Protective Services (CPS), Albemarle County Department of Social Services, 434-972-4010, M-F, 8-5. After 5pm nights, weekends and holidays, call the statewide Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline toll-free at 800-552-7096 (in Virginia) or 804-786-8536 (Out-of-State).
Foothills Child Advocacy Center
1106 East High Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Albemarle County Police Department
1600 5th Street, Suite D
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Adult Protective Services (APS), To report concerns of abuse, neglect, or exploitation directly to Albemarle County call 434-972-4010, Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm. Ask to speak to the Adult Service Intake Worker. For after-hours and on weekends, please call the State Hotline at 888-832-3858.
Peter Schmidt Counseling and Consulting, LLC
500 Westfield Road, Charlottesville, VA 22901
Redemptive Promise Biblical Counseling
4891 Helios Path, Barboursville, VA
Virginia Center for Family Relations
Charlottesville - 434-973-5640
Sachem Village Professional Center
1450 Sachem Place, Suite 101 Charlottesville, Virginia 22901
Staunton - 540-885-3481
100 Mactanly Place, Suite B, Staunton, VA 24401
Restoration Counseling Center
3595 Grand Forks Blvd, Charlottesville, VA 22911
Located inside of Laurel Hill Baptist Church
4. INTERACTING WITH AN ACCUSED PERPETRATOR
When it comes to interacting with an accused perpetrator, our first priority is always to the survivor of abuse and protecting potential victims. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, false allegations of sexual violence overall fall between 2-10%. Thus, when it comes to accusations of physical or sexual abuse, we will receive disclosures as credible until outside professionals demonstrate otherwise and the church leadership affirms their reinstatement. Assuming innocence can endanger children and others in the congregation.
The accused perpetrator, then, will not be allowed on church property at any time, as they will be served a “No Trespassing” notice. This will remain in place until and unless the church grants them access again. In the meantime, the accused is encouraged to listen to sermons online and send prayer requests through the contact submission form on the church’s website.
Appendix I: Virginia State Laws
…laws on mandatory reporting of child abuse, statute of limitations for criminal acts of abuse, and age of consent laws.
Child Abuse Reporting
Statutes and Regulations: Va. Code Ann. § 63.2-1501 (2019) // Va. Code Ann. §§ 63.2-1508 through 1510 (2019)
Who Must Report: Virginia statutes provide a list of mandated reporters which includes medical personnel, mental health providers, social workers, childcare providers, school employees, coaches, camp personnel, and law enforcement. Please refer to Va. Code Ann. § 63.2-1509 for the complete list of mandated reporters. Enacted 3/18/19: 19. Any minister, priest, rabbi, imam, or duly accredited practitioner of any religious organization or denomination usually referred to as a church as it relates to (i) information, unless the information supporting the suspicion of child abuse or neglect (i) is required by the doctrine of the religious organization or denomination to be kept in a confidential manner or (ii) information that would be subject to Section 8.01-400 or 19.2-271.3 if offered as evidence in court.
What Must Be Reported: Physical, sexual, or mental abuse or neglect by parent or other caretaker.
Legal Standard: Reason to Suspect
Penalty for Failure to Report: Fine of $500 ABUSED
State Resource Link: http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/cps/index.cgi
Clergy Privilege: - § 19.2-271.3. Communications between ministers of religion and persons they counsel or advise (Supreme Court Rule 2:503 derived in part from this section). No regular minister, priest, rabbi or accredited practitioner over the age of eighteen years, of any religious organization or denomination usually referred to as a church, shall be required in giving testimony as a witness in any criminal action to disclose any information communicated to him by the accused in a confidential manner, properly entrusted to him in his professional capacity and necessary to enable him to discharge the functions of his office according to the usual course of his practice or discipline, where such person so communicating such information about himself or another is seeking spiritual counsel and advice relative to and growing out of the information so imparted.
Statute of Limitations for Criminal Prosecution
Statute and Case Law: Va. Code § 19.2-8 (2019); Foster v. Virginia, 606 S.E. 2d 518, (Va. Ct. App. 2004)
Felonies: In Virginia there is no statute of limitations for felonies.
Misdemeanors: One year
DNA Exception: No
Statutory Rape / Age of Consent
Statutes: Va. Code § 18.2-6; § 18.2-63; and § 18.2-371 (2019). In Virginia, it is illegal for an individual to “carnally know” or engage in sexual activity with an individual under the age of 18.
Appendix II: Anecdotal Awareness of Groomers
It is difficult to believe someone you know would abuse a child or that it would happen at your church, but that mindset can be problematic. Churches and youth-serving organizations attract offenders. Ninety percent of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser. One study also found that 93% of abusers self-identified as religious. Churches, specifically, are easy targets because there tends to be a high level of trust, as well as a great need for volunteers to ensure that child and student serving programs operate and run smoothly.
Offenders can use relationships, positions of authority, and the trust of parents and organizations to groom children and those who care for them and to find opportunities to be isolated with their victims. This creates an environment where they can do harm and keep their victims compliant without using actual, physical force. Here are several grooming practices we watch for:
Gifts or special attention given to a specific child
Attempts to get a child alone
Increased physical touch of a child
Helping a child break rules
Keeping secrets with a child
Shaming or blaming a child
Inappropriate communication with a child in person, by phone, or online
These are helpful to be aware of as we seek to hire staff or volunteers that will be working with children or students. Working with children is not a right. There may be potential volunteers who walk away and don’t go through the process because of the added hassle of review, but it is important in the process to not make access to children easier, but to do what we can to ensure their safety.
We as a church want to remain thorough in our hiring of staff and volunteers for the children and youth ministries. This requires effort, but it takes seriously the duty of the shepherd to protect the flock. It also heeds Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:6, “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”