- You are never to be alone with a youth. There must always be another adult (other than your spouse) within line-of-sight. Appropriate places to meet youth one-on-one are public and non-intimate: Starbucks, I Heart Yogurt, Chick-Fil-A, etc.
- If you choose to go on walks with youth, you must be intentional about remaining in highly visible and populated areas that comply with the line-of-sight rule.
- You are never to meet one-on-one with a youth of the opposite gender, even in highly visible, public places.
- The line-of-sight rule applies to transportation as well. You are never to be in a vehicle with a youth without another adult (other than your spouse).
- Any time you are in a youth’s home, there must be at least two adults present who are not married to one another. In the case that you arrive at a youth home before there is another adult present (other than your spouse), wait outside until they arrive.
- Hugs with the youth are appropriate when they 1) occur at appropriate times, and 2) are done in appropriate ways. Appropriate times for hugs are to welcome, say goodbye or respond to a significant moment. Hugs that do not serve one of these purposes are unnecessary and can be counterproductive to our mission. Appropriate hugs are defined as an embrace where hands touch the shoulders and the upper back only.
- Any physical contact with youth should follow the standards listed above (i.e. they should occur at an appropriate time and be conducted in an appropriate manner). Behaviors that are never appropriate include, but are not limited to, laying down with a youth, a youth sitting in your lap (or vice versa), or any manner of kissing (including forehead, cheek, etc).
- The United Methodist Church and HPUMC Youth encourage celibacy prior to marriage, and we expect you to affirm this value. Conversations and actions that explicitly or implicitly condone or encourage sexual activity among youth are not appropriate.
- The youth of this ministry are not your friends. You are their youth leaders and mentors. At no point should that relationship be blurred. If you feel it has, it is your responsibility to bring it to a youth staff member’s attention. The staff member will work with you to help establish clearer boundaries.
HPUMC Youth Safety and Security Policies
HPUMC is committed to creating a safe environment free from abuse of any kind. We use the following tools to evaluate adults serving in ministry with minors:
- All adults must complete and pass a criminal background check.
- All adults must meet with a staff member to be trained. During this training, those who serve will sign a commitment to uphold the leader policies as listed below.
- During overnight events, the ratio of adults to youth will be no less than one adult per six youth. There will always be a minimum of two adults, with two adults per gender for co-ed events.
- All adults are also required to pass a drivers’ license check for driving violations in order to drive a vehicle with youth. Adults must be at least 25 years old to drive youth.
HPUMC Youth Leader Policies
The mission of HPUMC Youth is to “help junior high and high school students become devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.” In this endeavor, HPUMC Youth stands firm in the profession that Jesus makes in Matthew 18:6 – “If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
We treat our position as spiritual leaders to the youth and children of our church as an enormous privilege and responsibility in the Kingdom of God, and we expect all members of the HPUMC Youth Team to do the same. The following policies are in place to protect those who serve, our staff and to assist all of us in making righteous, beneficial choices during our time as youth leaders.
The staff and those who serve HPUMC Youth truly are a Team. The policies put forth in this document are intended to guide us in our ministry and provide us with boundaries within which we can most effectively minister to the youth. It is our hope that these policies will do nothing but increase your ability to disciple the youth you have relationships with and greatly increase the effectiveness of the HPUMC Youth Team as a whole.
We urge you to use caution and discretion when sharing your personal life with youth. Please use the following guidelines to help decide what and how to appropriately share with the youth:
- Never share a current struggle or problem that you are still addressing.
- Never share details about your personal life that you wouldn’t feel comfortable with a youth’s parent knowing.
- When sharing bad decisions from your past, refrain from the temptation to glorify poor behavior.
- Remember that your responsibility is to glorify God and lead youth into a better relationship with Christ; anything you share should be to that end.
- In recognizing that it is your responsibility to remove all stumbling blocks that would hinder a youth’s relationship with Christ, we urge you to refrain from making divisive statements that are not supported by the Methodist Book of Discipline. This includes, but is not limited to, political belief statements, ethical belief statements and polarizing opinions that are not explicit in the Book of Discipline. Please see the page in your handbook titled, “Tricky Topics: the Official United Methodist Stance,” for assistance or contact a youth staff member with any questions.
- You are required by law to report any abuse (such as sexual, substance, physical, emotional, ritual or neglect). If you ever become aware or suspicious of abuse of any kind, immediately report to a youth staff member.
- If you ever become concerned or suspicious that a youth’s behavior is dangerous to his or herself or anyone else, immediately report to a youth staff member.
- If you ever become suspicious of self-mutilation (including warnings from friends, distressed behavior or talk, or signs of lethargy or disinterest), immediately report to a youth staff member.
- If you ever become suspicious of suicidal thinking (including warnings from friends, distressed behavior or talk, extreme change in appearance or dress, or signs of lethargy or disinterest), immediately report to a youth staff member.
- We encourage you to have healthy and safe relationships with youth via social media and other digital communication (i.e. texting).
- When engaging in digital communication with a youth, we encourage you to use it as a means of communication and not a means of conversation. These conversations are hard to document and generally not as productive. If a digital conversation becomes more in-depth, ask the youth to meet in person to discuss the issue.
- Refrain from using profanity or degrading language on your social media accounts. Please remove any photos, pages or interests that contain profanity or references to sex, drugs or excessive alcohol use.
- Always remember that your social media profiles are public information. We encourage you to consider the youth and your responsibility as their spiritual leader when posting or interacting with social media.
- You are never to come to church, a youth event or an environment where you intend to visit with youth (i.e. sporting events, recitals and other non-programmed activities) after consuming alcohol within the last 8 hours and/or smelling like alcohol. If a youth staff member smells alcohol on you or observes alcohol-related behavior, you will be asked to leave the event and will be relieved of your serving position immediately.
- You are to refrain from using tobacco products in the presence of a youth or youth families. This includes any form of tobacco with youth who are of age to smoke.
- If you are invited to dinner with a youth family, you are not to drink alcohol, even if the parent offers it to you.
- You are never to offer a youth a substance that is illegal for a minor to consume or purchase.
- You are to refrain from the use or consumption of any substance that is illegal for you to use (illegal drugs, alcohol if you are under 21, prescription drugs illegally obtained).