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Ma youth advisor series boundaries and safety issues


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Ma youth advisor series boundaries and safety issues

  1. 1. The Workshop Will Begin in a Moment The Workshop Will Begin in a Moment
  2. 2. Youth Advisor Series February 28, 2012 Working With Youth: Boundaries and Safety Guidelines Nancy Combs-Morgan MidAmerica Coordinator for Emerging Models in Youth and Young Adult Ministries, [email_address]
  3. 3. Introductions
  4. 4. Where do we begin? <ul><li>Important question to consider : “How can we develop a fine tuned sense of the difference between safety and comfort? </li></ul><ul><li>As adult advocates for youth we must be aware of and to practice appropriate boundaries , which requires us to self-differentiated leaders. </li></ul>
  5. 5. What are “appropriate boundaries?” <ul><li>Appropriate boundaries with youth involve: </li></ul><ul><li>Maintaining awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Having a clear sense of accountability (personal and institutional) </li></ul><ul><li>Keeping a balance of responsibility and protection. “Balancing Compassion and Protection,” Debra Haffner, </li></ul>
  6. 6. “ Why are these issues are so important?” <ul><li>Youth in Unitarian Universalist congregations need a safe environment in which they can share themselves in a genuine way and develop as leaders . </li></ul><ul><li>Rev. Sarah Gibb, “Creating Policies in Youth Groups”, </li></ul>
  7. 7. Practice the “Balance ” <ul><li>Seek a balance of maintaining good boundaries and being youth empowering. </li></ul><ul><li>Be explicit and transparent about your responsibilities around confidentiality. </li></ul><ul><li>When you have a “red flag,” or a sense of uncertainity about a particular situation, use a team approach! </li></ul>
  8. 8. Practicing the Balance <ul><li>Share early and often with youth that you use a “team approach,” and that any information shared that the youth is at risk of being a danger to themselves or others will be shared. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Balancing Acts,” </li></ul>
  9. 9. Good Policies Serve the Health and Well-Being of our youth <ul><li>Does your congregation have a written policy on safe congregations? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you have a six-month rule for adults working with youth? </li></ul><ul><li>Does your congregation use a written application for church volunteers? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Does Your Congregation… <ul><li>Require two adults be present in each class or program for children and youth? </li></ul><ul><li>Use a Code of Ethics for persons working with children and youth? </li></ul><ul><li>Have a Safe Congregations Committee or a Sexual Misconduct and Abuse Response Team? </li></ul>
  11. 11. “ Safe Congregations” Policies <ul><li>Safe Congregation policies afford good preventative measures, but the application of such policies requires a team approach. </li></ul><ul><li>Annual review and trainin g is extremely helpful in reviewing the your congregation’s Safe Congregations policies. Use real examples to explore application of good boundaries. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Good Boundaries and Safety Guidelines <ul><li>When we set up clear limitations, expectations, responsibilities and accountability, then we… </li></ul><ul><li>model the expectation that adults working with youth will be, “ faith-keepers, trust builders and care-givers.”* </li></ul><ul><li>*(“Upholding Trust in the Religious Education Community.”) </li></ul>
  13. 13. When there isn’t explicit clarity of next steps… <ul><li>There will always be those situations where clear next steps are not evident. </li></ul><ul><li>Respond by first trusting your instincts. “If it feels uncomfortable, move towards gathering more information , not taking immediate action”. Marie Fortune, </li></ul>
  14. 14. When next steps are clearly indicated…. <ul><li>Review with your team the shared expectations of when next steps must be taken. </li></ul><ul><li>Action is required when issues of safety, abuse, drug or alcohol use are indicated. </li></ul><ul><li>You may discover that by sharing with youth that you must report will engender a sense of safe keeping and even trust. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Remember…. <ul><li>“ Our responsibility to spiritually and emotionally nurture our children and youth is everpresent and siginificant… </li></ul><ul><li>We can significantly “reduce the risk” by creating and following preventative policies </li></ul><ul><li>For, when we create explicit guidelines for appropriate behavior we define the values that are important to us.” </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  16. 16. Our Shared Pledge <ul><li>“ Adults working with children and youth in the context of our Unitarian Universalist faith have a crucial and privileged role, one that can carry a great deal of power and influence… adults have a special opportunity to interact with young people in ways that are affirming and inspiring…while it is important that adults be capable of meaningful friendships with the young people with whom they work, adults must exercise good judgment and mature wisdom in using their influence with children and young adults and refrain from using young people to fulfill their own needs. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Keeping Children and Youth Safe,” UUA Congregational Handbook, 1995,;safe/children/23444.shtml </li></ul>
  17. 17. Q & A
  18. 18. Thank You