EXECUTIVE SUMMARY FOR CHILD PROTECTION PROCESS FOR SHORT-TERM MISSION TRIP PARTICIPANTS
Children are a precious resource entrusted to us and their care and protection is a top priority. In a world where sexual and physical abuse of children is a sad reality, many churches are taking steps to assure that the children related to their ministry are safe and secure from sexual and physical abuse. IMB is joining the growing number of churches in implementing a child protection process. Because almost everyone serving on the mission field interacts with children, we are asking that all short term mission trip participants ages 18 and older receive protection training and go through a background screening process.
Child Protection Training
Many churches have training in place for those who work with children and youth. Child protection training materials are also available from IMB and can be accessed through the links listed below. Each person should participate in their church’s training or review the materials provided by IMB.
The training video includes:
• The problem of child sexual abuse
• Critical components to reduce the risk of child abuse
• Signs of sexual abuse
• Responding to reports of child sexual abuse
• Ways to protect workers from false allegations
Individual learner's guides and leader's guides are available:
You can also view and download reference and personal interview forms at the bottom of this page. If you have trouble viewing or downloading any of these files, please call us at (800) 999-3113(800) 999-3113 FREE
, option 3.
Many churches utilize a screening process that includes a criminal background check, an interview, and confidential references. IMB is requesting that this three-part process be utilized for those participating on a short-term mission trip. The sending church (or other sending organization) should interview each potential team member, gather and evaluate personal references and secure a company to conduct a criminal background check for each team member. The check should include a county, state and national record check.
Many churches already have engaged a company to conduct criminal background checks. For churches or partner groups that do not have a process in place, IMB has established a relationship with Protect My Ministry
to facilitate the criminal background check process.
Protect My Ministry provides discounted rates and a streamlined online process for conducting the checks, reviewing the results and safeguarding the data. Churches may establish an account with Protect My Ministry.
IMB offers sample interview questions and a sample confidential reference form that can be used to complete the other two parts of the background screening process. If a church uses Protect My Ministry, the interview is built into the background check process and need not be separately repeated.
For more detailed, step-by-step procedures for completing the training and background screening components of the child protection process, see the materials below.
Team leaders should confirm in writing via email to their host contact on the field that each short term mission trip participant has completed the child protection process. The email may be a simple one sentence notice. The training and screening needs to be completed only every four years, no matter how many trips a person may make.
For short term mission trip participants under the age of 18, the sending church or entity should conduct a reference check only. The training and the other elements of the background screening are not required.
Policy for Short Term Mission Trip Participants
1. As a Christian missionary organization, IMB is committed to providing, as much as possible, a safe and secure environment for all children entrusted to its care. This includes protecting children from sexual predators and anyone else whose history or character suggest that they reasonably pose a risk to the health and well-being of children with whom they may come in contact in connection with their service to or with the board.
2. Unfortunately, experience has shown that members of the body of Christ are not immune from temptations and personal struggles that involve taking inappropriate physical or sexual liberties with minor children. All of us share a responsibility to protect children from harm at the hands of those for whom children are perceived as objects of sexual desire or fascination. It is a part of our overall responsibility as Christian stewards and witnesses.
3. The primary goal of this policy is to reduce the risk of harm to children. By implementing sound child protection procedures, it is also the goal to reduce the risk of false accusations against short term mission trip participants who work with, supervise, provide care to, or interact with children. Because all short-term mission trip participants have the potential of interaction with children, whether in formal or informal settings, this policy applies to all participants, ages 18 and older,* who work with IMB personnel overseas.
4. The term “Child” in this policy shall refer to any individual under 18 years of age.
5. The term “Physical Abuse” of a child in this policy includes, but is not limited to the following: any action that causes or threatens to cause a non-accidental physical injury to a child; placing a child in a situation where the child is likely to be injured; neglecting or refusing to provide adequate food, shelter, emotional nurturing, or health care to a child; failing to provide adequate supervision in relation to the child’s age or development level.
6. The term “Sexual Abuse” of a child in this policy includes, but is not limited to the following: committing, allowing to be committed, or threatening any sexual act upon a child, including, without limitation, fondling of breasts or genitalia in or outside of the clothing, masturbation, oral-genital contact, digital penetration, vaginal intercourse, or anal intercourse; any action undertaken with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desire of any individual; indecent exposure in the presence of a child; allowing a child to view sexually explicit or pornographic material; allowing a child to be used in creating any sexually explicit or pornographic material; or allowing a child to witness a sexual act.
Requirements for Short Term Mission Trip Participants
7. All short-term mission trip participants, ages 18 and above, will, prior to commencement of service in collaboration with IMB, voluntarily submit to background screening and will complete training in the prevention of child sexual and physical abuse. The background screening will include, but not be limited to the following: An independent background check that includes a nationwide review of criminal history information and sexual predator databases, an interview, and references; each reference will be asked if they have concerns about that individual working with children and, if so, to specify the nature of their concerns.
For short-term mission trip participants under the age of 18, the sending church or entity should conduct a reference check only. The other elements of the background screening are not requested.
8. An individual shall not be allowed to serve as a short-term mission trip participant engaged in work in collaboration with IMB where the background screening or any other information reveals any information demonstrating that the individual engaged in (1) any prior behavior constituting sexual abuse of a child, (2) any crime of a sexual nature, or (3) any other behavior that reasonably indicates that this individual would pose a risk of sexually abusing a child. An individual shall not be allowed to serve on a short-term mission trip that is in collaboration with IMB if that individual has engaged in any behavior that reasonably indicates that this individual would pose a risk of physically abusing a child.
9. The background screening will ordinarily be completed by the local church or organization to which the short-term mission trip participant belongs.
Supervision of Children and Training of IMB Personnel
10. The child protection procedures shall, at a minimum, include provisions designed to implement the following:
(1) In any situation in which the parents or guardian of a child entrust short term mission trip participants with the care or supervision of that child, the general rule is that at least two adults trained in child protection procedures shall provide for the care and supervision of that child. For children under 12, at least one of those two adult caregivers shall be a woman. Children are to be supervised at all times; it is never appropriate to leave children unattended. Only where written parental consent is obtained is private one-on-one contact between adults and children permitted. Where such permission is given, the meetings should occur in either a public place or in a room that provides a clear view by others.
(2) Short-term mission trip participants shall never administer discipline to children not their own through spanking or other forms of corporal punishment.
(3) Child protection training shall address and define age appropriate forms of proper and improper physical contact between children and their adult supervisors and how to detect and prevent child physical and sexual abuse.
11. All short-term mission trip participants ages 18 and above shall receive appropriate child protection training and be aware of IMB policies and procedures relevant to child abuse before they participate in a short-term mission trip.
Certification of Screening and Training
12. Before a mission team leaves for the mission field, the church, ministry partner and/or mission trip team leader will certify in writing (email is acceptable) that every member of the mission team has:
(1) completed and passed the three elements of the required background screening described in paragraph 7, and
(2) completed training in how to prevent child abuse. That written certification will go to IMB host contact on the field. Re-screening and retraining should be conducted at least every four years.
Responding to Allegations or Incidents of Physical or Sexual Abuse of a Child
Any suspected incident of sexual or physical abuse of a child should be reported immediately. Appropriate means of reporting include the following: IMB leadership or IMB’s confidential hotline for reporting abuse (866) 211-4648(866) 211-4648 FREE
if in the U.S., or (804) 749-3254(804) 749-3254
if outside the U.S.
14. Sexual or physical abuse of a child by a short term mission trip participant will not be tolerated. A single act of sexual abuse, regardless of when that act occurred, will result in appropriate legal/administrative action, including the permanent and immediate cessation of short term mission trip participation with IMB. A single act of physical abuse by a short-term mission trip participant, regardless of when that act occurred, will result in appropriate legal/administrative action, including the permanent and immediate cessation of short-term mission trip participation with IMB.