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Standard 3: Preventing harm to children


What is the Standard?

Church organisations develop a culture of safety that minimises risk to children. Some people who work in, or who seek to work in Church organisations (whether it is paid or voluntary work) pose a risk to children and young people.

Church organisations can minimise the risk of children and young people being abused by:

  • safe recruitment and vetting practices – helping prevent those who pose a risk to children from holding positions of trust
  • codes of behaviour – having clear guidelines that set out what is and is not acceptable behaviour as an essential part of keeping children safe
  • operating safe activities for children – can help ensure a safe environment for children.Criteria – safe recruitment and vetting

Ways of providing evidence

The following documents can be used to provide evidence that the Standard has been met:

  • a copy of agreed methods for recruiting
  • examples of application, reference and declaration forms
  • evidence of registration with or access to agencies that are in a position to provide details of an applicant’s past behaviour, such as An Garda Síochána Central Vetting Unit or Access Northern Ireland.
  • guidelines for adult-to-child behaviour and for child-to-child behaviour
  • guidance on physical contact
  • a copy of the document explaining how Church personnel can confidentially discuss their allegations and suspicions about children with senior staff (whistle-blowing scheme) and information about this procedure.
  • example of child welfare plan for transporting children when taking them on trips, overnight
  • stays, pilgrimages and retreats
  • a copy of guidelines on the use of mobile phones, email, the Internet and filming and
  • photography of children
  • evidence to show compliance with national guidance on adult ratio to children.


Standards and Guidance Document (Full)


Safe recruitment and vetting

3.1 There are policies and procedures for recruiting Church personnel and assessing their suitability to work with children.

3.2 The safe recruitment and vetting policy is in line with best practice guidance.

3.3 All those who have the opportunity for regular contact with children, or who are in positions of trust, complete a form declaring any previous court convictions and undergo other checks as required by legislation and guidance and this information is then properly assessed and recorded.

Codes of Behaviour

3.4 The Church organisation provides guidance on appropriate/ expected standards of behaviour of, adults towards children.

3.5 There is guidance on expected and acceptable behaviour of children towards other children (anti-bullying policy).

3.6 There are clear ways in which Church personnel can raise allegations and suspicions about unacceptable behaviour towards children by other Church personnel or volunteers (‘whistle-blowing’),confidentially if necessary.

3.7 There are processes for dealing with children’s unacceptable behaviour that do not involve physical punishment or any other form of degrading or humiliating treatment.

3.8 Guidance to staff and children makes it clear that discriminatory behaviour or language in relation to any of the following is not acceptable: race, culture, age, gender, disability, religion, sexuality or political views.

3.9 Policies include guidelines on the personal/ intimate care of children with disabilities, including appropriate and inappropriate touch.

Operating safe activities for children

3.10 There is guidance on assessing all possible risks when working with children – especially in activities that involve time spent away from home.

3.11 When operating projects/ activities children are adequately supervised and protected at all times.

3.12 Guidelines exist for appropriate use of information technology (such as mobile phones, email, digital cameras, websites, the Internet) to make sure that children are not put in danger and exposed to abuse and exploitation.