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Safe for Children

Keeping Children and Youth Safe at Christmas and in the New Year

Picture of three children wearing red sweaters and santa hats laying down on the ground laughing with each other

An article based on the Safety Member Certification training module "Protecting Children from Abuse."[1]

From the Bible

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:16).

How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings (Psalm 36:7).


Product labels are important, especially when they address safety. When Christmas shopping, we see some items marked, "Safe for Children," and some others marked, "Keep out of Reach of Children" or, "Not Safe for Children." Other labels may specify that they're appropriate for certain age groups, which may mean they're not safe for those younger than that age.

In the church, we aim to protect our children from what is not safe for them.

We keep children and youth safe by working with church leadership and the children and youth ministries.

In the News

North Carolina, October 15, 2023 - A man left his gun in the back of his vehicle in the parking lot of a church. Children were in the parking lot. A boy saw the gun and took it. It accidentally discharged, wounding his brother (age 2). The owner of the vehicle is charged with failing to properly store a firearm to protect minors.[2]

Poulsbo, Washington, July 26, 2023 - A church in Poulsbo was hosting an event on a Wednesday evening. During the event, some of the youth were pushing a car. About 7:30 pm, one teenaged boy fell, and the car's tires rolled over his arm and leg, maybe also his abdomen. He was transported to a hospital in Seattle to check for internal injuries.[3]

Moody, Alabama, May 3, 2017 - A worker at a church's daycare center used "more force than necessary" on a three-year-old girl, then sat on the floor with her and cried, saying that she didn't mean to hurt her. When the girl got home, the mother saw bruises and scratches and called the police.

The parents were given a DVD with the surveillance video of the incident, and they gave it to the police. The worker was dismissed from her job, and the police charged her with abuse of a child in her care.

The daycare and the church sent a note to all the daycare's parents. Since the incident was apparently not even reported to the church at first, members of the community doubted whether the church would have reported it to police.[4]

Cordova, Tennessee, July 15, 2020 - Parents of a teen sued a large and prominent church in Cordova for not heeding red flags in hiring a staff member and in allowing him to continue in his position. The case is complicated by a past affair of the staff member and his past advice to couples.

The offender was a coordinator of volunteers, and convinced the couple's teen daughter to be a volunteer. He then used the staff relationship to engage in sexual conduct, sometimes taking her off campus or having her meet him somewhere. The abuse came to light when police found the two in a car off campus and he was arrested. He had already resigned two months earlier for undisclosed reasons.

The church's director of that department claimed to have no knowledge of the staffer meeting alone with the teen volunteer, leaving the campus with her, and other red flags. However, the church had been warned about the man years earlier, and that was part of the basis for the lawsuit.

A lawyer dealing with issues like this said church members themselves (including young people) should be trained to recognize and report "red flag" behaviors - such as between an adult and a child or teen - to the church leaders.[5]

Chester, England, United Kingdom, October 11, 2019 - A bookcase in a nursery (British daycare center) fell on a toddler who tried to climb it. The attendant who called the child's mother said she was "fine." However, when the mother came, she saw her daughter's bruises and other injuries and took her to the hospital. The girl reportedly "slept" for a quarter hour right after the impact, which made Mum suspect a concussion. The incident raised questions on why the girl could try to climb the bookcase unnoticed by staff, why it fell, and how the staff responded.[6]

* Notes:

  1. It is advisable for high furniture, such as a bookcase, to be anchored to the wall (preferably to studs).
  2. As much as possible, staff and volunteers should always be aware of what toddlers are doing (or are about to do).
  3. With that kind of mishap, the injured person should be watched for signs of a concussion - such as the immediate "nap."

A Videocast to Watch

Kris Moloney has a videocast, "Protecting Children with Preventive Procedures," on teaching children how to protect themselves from sexual predators by recognizing and avoiding them. The videocast is on the YouTube channel Sheepdog Church Security Academy. The audio is in a Church Security Roll Call podcast.[7][8][9]

When it comes to keeping children safe, we should not only teach them how to be safe from predators, but also to be safe from physical dangers.

Child Safety Concerns Never Take a Holiday

Just ask law enforcement officers how they spent their holidays. Most will say that they were on duty, like my state patrol nephew in another state. If you watch the sidelines and cross-overs while traveling the highways on a holiday weekend, you'll see patrol cars watching the traffic. You might see a few "Blue Light Specials" along the way, maybe with a pulled-over driver walking along a chalk line (I have seen that). You may hear a siren and see a patrol car and/or rescue truck on a mission. The men and women in blue, gray, and brown uniforms are on duty to keep us safe.

Likewise, in church safety & security, team members are needed on Sundays/Sabbaths, special events, and holidays, especially just before Christmas. The stresses of holiday shopping and preparation lead to short tempers with some people. If there is domestic abuse, it may get worse with the strains and can affect temperaments when people come to church.

Abduction Prevention

For separated and divorced parents, there is often tension over who has the children and when. A non-custodial parent could be more likely to try getting the kids when the other parent is in a service, an adult class, or choir practice. This means we cannot afford to let down on access control for children. If a child is checked into the nursery, toddler care room, or primary kids' space, use a safe check in-check out system with tokens, and watch the hallway to the Children's Department.

Predator Prevention

When a church has many visitors, a child predator may try to get in to a get a kid unnoticed. Keep a special watch on places in the church where children are. Greet and assess any stranger (adult or older teen) wandering into the children's areas. As always, be observant, alert for signs of predator behavior or of a child or youth being abused.

Check to see that child safety procedures in the church are followed.

Activity Risks

Holiday activities mean more opportunities for accidents. A few examples are:

Cold Weather Safety

Children often carol with adults. When caroling outdoors in freezing weather, guard against hypothermia and frostbite:


In a Babylon Bee satire story, protesters interrupted a children's choir singing Christmas music at Rockefeller Center. This story may be fiction, but the reality is that there are now activists in this country who are willing to do that. Children may feel threatened or intimidated by protesters, especially if they are boisterous and in-your-face obnoxious. Find out how to handle those who may try to disrupt a children's program in your church, just in case they do try.


Our Christmas gift to the children in our churches is to keep them safe during the Holiday Season and through the coming year.

Training for Safety

"Protecting Children from Abuse" is the fourth of eight training modules in the Safety Member Certification program. Each Church Safety Ministry is encouraged to have all its members trained and certified. The certification is good for two years, then recertification is needed, which serves three purposes:

Three training formats are available:

The 2023-2024 Online Events school year is in progress:





Training Module


Sep 10

Nov 12

Jan 28

Mar 24

Safety Team Fundamentals


Sep 17

Nov 19

Feb 4

Apr 7

Active Shooter Response


Sep 24

Dec 3

Feb 11

Apr 14

Deescalating Disruptive Persons


Oct 1

Dec 10

Feb 18

Apr 21

Protecting Children from Abuse


Oct 8

Dec 17

Feb 25

Apr 28

Basic Use of Force Laws


Oct 15

Jan 7

Mar 3

May 5

Arson and Fire Safety


Oct 22

Jan 14

Mar 10

May 19

Storms and Disasters


Nov 5

Jan 21

Mar 17

Jun 2

Mass Trauma Emergencies

Another training resource is the Church Security Guide. Its nine articles cover topics from the "Introduction to Church Safety and Security" to "Church Safety Teams and Active Shooter Training." The 6th article is "Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults in the Church." These articles can be used to preview the topic of a training class, then later, after passing the class, to review and refresh the subject.[10][11]


  1. Kris Moloney, "Protecting Children from Abuse," Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020 [] .
  2. Stephanie Moore, "Deputies: Charge filed after pastor's son accidentally shoots 2-year-old brother outside NC church," WYFF, November 29, 2023 [] .
  3. Nathan Pilling, "Child injured, flown to Harborview following incident at Gateway Fellowship in Poulsbo," Kitsap Sun, July 27, 2023 [] .
  4. Brandon Varner, "Woman arrested and charged with abuse after child reportedly injured at church daycare," WIAT - CBS 42, May 10, 2017 [] .
  5. Adelle M. Banks, "Suit alleges Southern Baptist church's negligence led to abuse of teen," Religion News Service, July 15, 2020 [] .
  6. Steve Creswell and Kelly-Ann Mills, "Toddler hospitalised after getting crushed by falling bookcase at nursery," Mirror, October 23, 2019 [] .
  7. Kris Moloney, "Protecting Children with Preventive Procedures," Church Security Roll Call 330, Sheepdog Church Security Academy, September 26, 2022 [] .
  8. Kris Moloney, Sheepdog Church Security Academy channel, YouTube [] .
  9. Kris Moloney, Church Security Roll Call channel, SoundCloud [] .
  10. Kris Moloney, Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2018 [] .
  11. Kris Moloney, "Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults in the Church," Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2018 [] .