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Religious EducationRELIGIOUS EDUCATION AND CHILDREN Our Religious Education programs for children and youth entail a high degree of responsibility for the adults working directly and peripherally with the young people. All of us in the congregation teach
Safety for Religious Education and Children
Safe Congregations, Keeping Children Safe, Safety and Staffing in Congregations

Our Religious Education programs for children and youth entail a high degree of responsibility for the adults working directly and peripherally with the young people. All of us in the congregation teach our children not just how to be Unitarian Universalist but, perhaps more importantly, how to live in a Unitarian Universalist community, a community that gives to, cares for, critiques, affirms, questions, and blesses those within its fold.

Thus, for a people who expect their adults to be faith-keepers, trust-builders, and caregivers, it is easy to see why it is so important for us to be clear about how adults interact with children. Our responsibility to nurture spiritually and emotionally the children in our community is huge. With the stakes so high, we must not fail to guard them adequately against physical and emotional abuse. Will we safeguard against every perceivable abuse? This is not likely. However, we can significantly reduce the risk by creating and following preventative policies.

When we create explicit guidelines for appropriate behavior, we define the values that are important to us as religious people. Our statements about safe relationships create a structure in which our religious community can thrive.

—Rev. Tera Klein and Laurel Amabile

An essential tool for any congregation’s religious education program, and the first place to begin, is a Safety Assessment for Ministry with Children, available from the UU Interim Religious Education blog, In Liminal Time.

Recommended Practices for Children's Safety

Learning from suggested practices and industry standards regarding children’s safety, the UUA Safety Team has developed recommendations for congregations to keep children safer from harm. We invite you to explore the recommendations and resources in each of these areas:

  1. Hiring and Screening

  2. Training

  3. Supervision

  4. Abuse Prevention

  5. Mandated Reporting

  6. Pastoral Care

  7. Check-In and Check-Out

  8. Diapering, Bathroom, and Toileting

  9. Food Allergies

  10. Youth as Childcare Providers

Additional Resources and Policy Examples for Children's Safety

About the Authors

  • Kim Sweeney is a Unitarian Universalist Credentialed Religious Educator and consultant.
  • The regional Congregational Life staff are congregations' local connection to the UUA. All of the program Congregational Life staff have expertise in most aspects of congregational life and each also has a few program areas of expertise. See the UUA Congregational Life Staff...

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For more information contact safecongregations@uua.org.