The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA is deeply committed to the protection of its children and youth. Those who work with our young people are accountable to God and the community to ensure their safety, well-being, and spiritual formation. As a Church, we must provide a safe and secure environment where young people can grow and mature in the Faith. While we can never eliminate the possibility of abuse or injury, we can take steps to ensure that our programs are as safe as possible.
What is Youth Protection? Youth Protection is a set of policies, training and regulations put in place for the safety and care for youth in organizational settings. Brian Wendell, with the Boy Scouts of America, describes youth protection this way, “Think of Youth Protection like the virus-protection software on your computer. The software is updated regularly with the newest definitions of ways your computer could be threatened. The software company—McAfee, Norton, etc.— blocks known malicious sites and software, and it warns you when a link could be harmful. But it’s still up to you to use common sense and not click those links. And reporting suspicious Web sites is your job, too.”
What does this have to do with the church? As the church, the body of Christ, the protection and safety of all its members should be foremost in our thoughts and actions. When we drive a car, we put on our safety belts, follow the rules of the road, stay sober, don’t text, etc. We hopefully do everything we can to keep our body safe from harm and from harming others while on the road. Protecting the “body” of Christ’s church is just as important and just as many factors should be considered when doing so. With concern to our youth, it is our responsibility as adults in our parish communities to care for those in our charge. Just as parents put the safety of their children as a priority. St. John Chrysostom tells us, “With us everything should be secondary compared to our concern with children, and their upbringing in the instruction and teaching of the Lord.” If we are to be an integral part in the upbringing, instruction and teaching of the Lord, then we must also integrate how we keep them safe while doing so.
The best practice document below will provide you with a guideline for developing youth protection in your parish. This is not an exhaustive guide but hopes to provide clergy, youth workers and parishes with a strong basis to establish their work.
Best Practices Guide (English Version) Download Here!
Best Practices Guide (Ukrainian Version) Download Here!
Sample Forms and Resources
Emergency Information Sheet (youth worker reference)
Here is some information on Child Welfare put out by the U.S Government to help.