Tragedies such as what happened in Connecticut stir countless emotions. As leaders, however, these emotions should spur us towards evaluating how we can reduce the risk and increase the safety for the children who are in our care. While it is true that we can never prevent every potential harm and we absolutely can not live in fear, we also have a great responsibility to protect those God has entrusted to us. Use these days to evaluate how your ministry environment can be safer. Here are a few talking points to get started:
1. Evaluate entry points and access. How many ways can people enter your space? Do you restrict who enters? What happens while services are going on? Who is allowed in your space and how do you address “wanderers”? Who can you enlist (police officer or someone else trained in emergency response) to walk through the space with you and look with different eyes?
2. Evaluate people who can help increase security. Do you have a security team? Do you have greeters who know what to do if something weird occurs? Do you have law enforcement officers that are in your church that can be “on call”? Do you have men who can be in your space during ministry times when everyone else is in the classrooms?
3. Evaluate emergency plan. Do you have a written plan for what happens if an intruder/dangerous person is on the campus? Where do kids need to evacuate to or hide? How will you communicate to classroom teachers to enact their safety plan?
4. Evaluate leader training. You may have plans on paper, but how well do your leaders know them? Even if you happened to review plans two weeks ago, this is an excellent time to send reminders to your leaders as these questions are fresh on their minds. Remember, once you are tired of talking about something, many of your volunteers are just starting to hear you.
This is a continual conversation and a continual learning curve for all of us! Add to the conversation… what else are you currently evaluating in regards to safety?