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Disruptive Behavior Policies

Why develop a Disruptive Behavior Policy?

Congregational leaders and members have the responsibility to provide a safe and welcoming environment for children and adults—both regular attendees and visitors. Developing a Disruptive Behavior Policy (DBP) indicates a commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment by confirming a list of expectations for everyone's behavior. A DBP establishes behavioral guidelines that consider the community's well-being first and foremost.

Disruptive behaviors may impact perceived safety of any adult or child, the disruption of church activities, and the diminishment of the potential and existing membership. When any person's physical and/or emotional well-being or freedom to safely express his or her opinions is threatened, action must be taken. The guidelines provided by a DBP mean that all are held to the same set of standards. The DPB provides a process that leaves less room for singling out a person based on stereotyping or personality conflicts. Disruptive behavior can be summarized as one or more of the following

  • Dangerous: is the individual the source of a threat or perceived threat to persons or property?
  • Disruptive: what is the level of interference with church activities?
  • Offensive: is the behavior likely to drive existing members and visitors away?

In addition to developing a policy for addressing disruptive behavior, it is recommended that the minister(s) and congregational leaders are diligent in keeping accurate and timely records while approaching a problem and resolution. Written records provide context and continuity should similar issues arise again either involving the same individual or someone different.

Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. The goals of the Ethics in Congregational Life program are to support leaders in creating safer space within their congregations, encouraging right relations among persons who are part of the congregation, and encouraging just relations between the congregation and the larger community of which it is a part. Addressing disruptive behavior calls upon us to create fair and sensitive policy in a less than perfect world.

Some Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations have kindly shared their policies to provide others with an array of examples that help guide the process in developing policies specific to your congregation:

For more information contact safecongregations @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, April 22, 2011.

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