WCCM-USA MWC I – Safety

The World Community for Christian Meditation in the USA endorses and encourages several actions addressing the issue of child safety.

1. Anyone who presents before the public doing work of The World Community for Christian Meditation in the USA needs to be aware of and educated about child safety issues.

2. Anyone who presents before the public doing work of The WCCM-USA relating to children and youth needs to be able to show updated and verifiable formal education in child safety issues.

3. After you complete a formal course or update, please notify The WCCM-USA National Meditation with Children (MWC) Coordination Group for purposes of maintaining our records. Use the email address shown on our Meditation with Children (MWC) Main Page.

4. If you are already credentialed with an educational system or religious group, you might have had such training and updates. Please report those completions to us so we can credit your record accurately in our database.

5. Persons in the WCCM-USA community who have not had formal child safety training and updates may actively support WCCM-USA Meditation with Children (MWC) activities but not before the public and not on site where children and young people are located.

6. Persons in the WCCM-USA community doing Meditation with Children (MWC) outreach should be able to confirm their updated child safety training (as part of their outreach credentials) for anyone in the larger community in charge of the safety of children (school and church administrators, parents / guardians, etc.) The inquirer will need the name of the meditator’s training organization or program in order to look in the relevant on-line database for confirmation.

7. An online search for “child sexual abuse safety training programs” will produce numerous options. They originate from a variety of settings: religious organizations, secular community improvement, law enforcement, comprehensive health care, legal services professionals, and more. Methods range from in-person trainer-led events to online courses and/or media to be ordered for self-instruction. Most robust for our purposes would be in a live-group setting guided by a qualified trainer. Choose a course for which a background check must be completed prior to enrollment in the training. Those programs usually maintain a database of successful completers of the course and updates which can be queried by anyone needing to screen for child safety risks.

8. If you encounter problems locating no-cost or low-cost certified training programs in your area, please let us know. We could work with you to see if there are other options readily available. Also please see information in the following paragraphs.

9. Please work with your WCCM-USA Regional Coordinator and keep them updated on your decisions and your progress. There may be opportunities for several of you in your area to make plans to obtain child safety training together somewhere else in your region.

*** Act to prevent situations in which a WCCM-USA worker would be alone with a young person under age 18 years who is not their relative or ward. All the major child safety education programs emphasize the importance of team management in support of this vulnerable population.
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BACKGROUND:

Safety consists of freedom from threatened or actual damage to any aspect of wholeness: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

It is a mistake to think we can insure a child’s safety simply by restricting direct physical access to the child for suspected persons at specific times.

Sometimes an unintended risk or act of misuse may occur, and it could happen inadvertently with anyone.

In that case we must depend upon knowledgeable others to make us aware of what happened or appears to be impending; we must immediately cease what appears to be risk or misuse; and we must amend the situation to insure safety for the child.

As a result of our new awareness we might also need to involve other responsible adults to insure needed systemic changes (routines, environment, etc.) toward improved ongoing safety for the child.

Predatory child abuse is intentional. It begins with subtle (or not) deliberate acts designed to identify specific children and to break down his/her safety structure, including especially the child’s relationships with those currently providing the child’s safety environment. A predator of children, having the intent to set up situations with opportunities for influence over the child, works over time to achieve trusting relationships with both the child and with responsible adults. Once a level of control has been achieved, physical proximity can later be assured.

Because our WCCM community is based on belief in the interdependence of all human beings, we opt for inclusion. Openness is essential but could be misused by someone entertaining destructive intent. We as a community may rely on the work of the Holy Spirit to cleanse and to change all of us into something closer to the likeness of God. At the same time we must have a healthy respect for safety responsibilities owned by everyone involved in the care and protection of our dependent children and other vulnerable persons.

Protection includes minimizing chances for identification and location of a specific minor at a particular place, date, and time by persons not a part of the child’s current safety plan.  This location principle should be used as a litmus test in all decision-making about teaching tools and publicity for events involving minors.

Some national organizations have created safety training programs. There are at least three certified training programs (see below for examples) run by several Christian denominations. Not all local, regional, or diocesan groups of those denominations subscribe to or offer the courses, but most have an on-line presence where you can obtain information about schedules and locations. Intended participants include church and school staff and volunteers but also secular-sponsored community youth leaders of activities such as sports and Scouts programs. Your registration likely will not require any fees, but you will be asked questions to enable a background check prior to acceptance for assignment to a training session. Most if not all of the church programs do not insist on your being affiliated with that religious denomination in order to take the training, but they will ask questions about your current and intended areas of involvement. Other training programs may be less specific.

Current safety programs include:

o Protecting God’s Children at http://www.virtus.org. According to their website, “VIRTUS is the brand name that identifies best practices programs designed to help prevent wrongdoing and promote ‘right doing’ within religious organizations. The VIRTUS programs empower organizations and people to better control risk and improve the lives of all those who interact with the Church.” VIRTUS was created by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc. as of 1998. There is some degree of online training but you will need to look into it for details.

o Safeguarding God’s Children at http://www.cpg.org created by (The Episcopal Church in the USA) Church Pension Group with Praesidium Religious Services in response to national resolutions to protect and to provide safety for children and youth. This program is used by some other denominations also. Contact your local diocese for training schedules. Online training is coming to some areas, according to their website.

o Safe Sanctuaries. Search for “Safe Sanctuaries” online to obtain information pertinent to your interest and location. As per one United Methodist Church website, “Safe Sanctuaries does not establish a standard of care for churches. Each local church makes its own decisions and determines what is best for it.”

o There are many more training tools shown online which might be your preference. Some of them may have fees in addition to costs or materials to be purchased. Remember to choose a tool which requires a preliminary background check.

Most persons find that this learning experience enables them to become a knowledgeable supporter of safety on more than one level, and they rejoin their communities and families with new understanding, wiser attitudes and pro-active prevention skills.
We must insure that we understand current risks to safety of our young ones. Because everyone has responsibility for creating and for preserving safety for the vulnerable in our communities, we need to be educated and empowered to do our part. Only then can we make a respectful and beneficial entry into their environments to share our gift with children, youth, and their responsible adults.


rev. 02/22/15 las