Sample Standards for Interactions with Minors and/or Vulnerable Adults

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Adult and Minor Interactions

(Taken from
Examples of appropriate contact with minors for Church programs include, but are not limited to:

  1. Verbal praise
  2. Brief side hugs or arm around the shoulder
  3. Brief pat on the shoulder or upper back
  4. Handshakes, “high-fives”, knuckle bumps or hand slaps
  5. Brief touching of hand, face, head, shoulder, or arm of minor
  6. Holding hands while walking with small children.
  7. Sitting beside small children
  8. Kneeling or bending down for a brief hug with small children
  9. Holding hands during prayer

Examples of contact with minors that are not to be used include, but are not limited to:

  1. Long and/or inappropriate frontal embraces
  2. Kisses on the mouth
  3. Holding minors over four years old on the lap or in one’s arms; holding younger minors should only be “as needed” (e.g., for comfort) or at the invitation of the parent
  4. Touching knees, legs, buttocks, chests or genital areas
  5. Being alone in isolated areas such as closets, staff-only areas or other private rooms
  6. Playing with hair of a minor
  7. Being on a bed with a minor (unless a bed becomes designated “seating space” during daytime hours)
  8. Wrestling with minors, tickling minors or piggyback rides
  9. Any type of massage, whether given by minor to adult or adult to minor
  10. Any form of unwanted affection
  11. Oral or written comments that relate to physique, body development, expression of overt physical affection and/or involve other boundary violations
  12. Providing alcohol, drugs, tobacco or illegal materials to a minor
  13. Giving of gifts or money to a minor without the parent’s knowledge
  14. Undressing or being nude
  15. Taking a shower with a minor
  16. Sleeping in the same bed, sleeping bag or tent with a minor, unless the adult is an immediate family member of the minor

Guidelines for conduct between adults and minors in their virtual contacts include:

  1. Adults must have written permission from a minor’s parent or guardian before contacting the minor through any virtual contact or before posting pictures, video, and other information that may identify that minor.
  2. All communications between adult leaders and minors should be transparent and for legitimate ministry related purposes.
  3. “Friending” requests should be initiated by the minor and not the adult.
  4. Minors should never be invited or accepted as a “friend” at a private social media page or account of an adult in a supervisory position of that minor.
  5. Employees and volunteers should set personal profile pages to a “private” setting so that youth do not have access to personal information.

Michelle Markgraf, Freedom for the Captives

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This entry is part 6 of 12 in the series Steps to Safe Church