Creating safe and secure environments for our ministries is a crucial responsibility that is of the highest importance. Churches can set up policies and procedures to help protect the most vulnerable that walk through our doors. 

Predators still see churches as easy targets. N.C. Baptists are committed to providing you with the training and resources you need to prevent abuse from ever happening. 

But what happens when an allegation of abuse is put forward? What are our immediate next steps? We hope this checklist will provide you with the information that you need to move forward.

Report allegations immediately

North Carolina is a must-report state, and there is no pastoral exemption. Any person receiving an allegation of abuse should report this within the first 24 hours to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services Child Protective Services.

It is important to have the name, address and contact information of the person making the allegation so that the Department of Social Services (DSS) may investigate allegations. Any person making a report in good faith is immune from any civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred.

Do not conduct an internal investigation

Allow professionals to conduct investigations to avoid damaging or influencing testimonies or evidence.

Set up an abuse response team

Develop and utilize an abuse response team that includes a media spokesperson and church leaders who can be trusted to maintain confidences of disclosure.

Care well

Offer caring responses and take allegations seriously. Give additional support by offering professional counseling, especially if the alleged abuser is church staff or a volunteer.

Document at every step

Document allegations and the response of the church at each step of the investigation.

Remove alleged abuser from service

If the alleged abuser is a church staff member or volunteer, remove the accused from service until allegations are resolved. The church may decide to continue paying the staff member involved during the investigation, but they should not be allowed to serve with children or teens in any capacity.

Contact your insurance agency

Contact the church’s insurance agency. Be proactive by checking that the church’s insurance policy has an additional rider that covers claims for sexual abuse.

Visit ncbaptist.org/abuse for more resources on preventing and responding to abuse, and caring for survivors and the vulnerable.

by N.C. Baptist Communications