Protecting Our Children

Protecting Our Children

ABWE exists to multiply leaders, churches and missions movements—so we all may do greater things in the Great Commission. We cannot fully realize this vision, however, without ensuring that every member of our community is safe and supported.

It is our passionate desire to see that every church, home, hospital, school, and crossroads within our ministry community is a place where all people—but especially children—are protected.

As a result, ABWE has invested in creating an environment of accountability, action, and education, so that every member—from the Board of Directors to every short-term volunteer—understands our child protection policy and fulfills our organizational expectation to protect children and create communities where our staff, missionaries, volunteers and partners can safely minister and live.

While we wish we could completely eliminate any occurrence of child abuse in our world, we can work diligently to prevent predators from accessing children in our ministries. Through consistent training, clear roles and responsibilities, added accountability and clear reporting structures, we’re eliminating opportunities to prey on the vulnerable in our midst.

Our Child Protection Culture

Recognizing a need for proactive diligence, ABWE has worked hard to clearly define what we expect from our members to keep children safe. Our policies and procedures enable us to build a culture of accountability and visibility and enact swift and potentially severe consequences when those policies are broken.

Background Checks and Clearances

  • Pennsylvania ACT 153 requires that childcare workers have a state police check, child abuse clearance and FBI fingerprint search. As a result of this measure, ABWE worked to ensure all missionaries, teams, and volunteers who are PA residents traveling overseas or working stateside as childcare workers, are in compliance.
  • Additionally, ABWE requires child-safety training and background checks for everyone—regardless of their state of residency, and even if the individual does not have to direct care or supervision of children. While this is not mandated by ACT 153, it is something we’ve put in place as a benchmark for safety and a sign to those around us of the level of seriousness we take regarding child safety.
  • All ABWE missionaries and adult volunteers are required to perform a background check every 5 years. However, we know that not all background checks are equal. To ensure quality, we do not accept previous background checks (*except in pre-approved cases). Typically, staff members, missionaries and adult volunteers, interns, or teams are required to have background checks through Proforma, a NAPBS-accredited background screening company.
  • While minors are not required to have background checks, they are also not allowed to watch children in a ministry setting alone—per our two-adult policy—which requires that two adults are always present in ministry settings with minors.

Training

  • All ABWE staff, missionaries, and adult volunteers are required to take child-safety training through Praesidium Armatus. This training includes an ABWE Policies Course developed especially for ABWE to help those in our ministry understand our child-protection policy, as well as requirements for mandatory reporting and applicable laws.
  • In addition to the online Praesidium training, all missionaries are trained in ABWE’s child-protection policy twice onsite at ABWE before they ever even leave for the field— including how to apply the policies in real-life ministry scenarios.
  • We are proactively training parents and our teams on awareness and prevention for the sake of children and the safety of the communities where we serve.
  • We have looked to experts in the field to create and implement our child-safety training, because we are not the experts. We have gone to some of the very best in the business to have trainings created that address the unique circumstances of an international ministry working in various countries.

Sharing What We've Learned

  • Our child-safety policy is available in French and Spanish so that national partners and other ministries can also take the training.
  • Our international schools, ministry affiliates, and NGO partners have an agreement with ABWE and an affiliate child-protection policy that they are required to follow.
  • Each affiliate has a primary child-safety advocate and a secondary child-safety advocate for local reporting, who is required to know the local reporting laws as well as how to apply the child-safety policy in their ministry context.
  • We also make our trainings available to partners churches to help the evangelical church learn more about how we call all play a role in the safety of our children. In instances where partner churches couldn't afford the training fee, but were interested in the training, ABWE has covered the cost.