One would hope that, within the Christian community, among people who profess to be followers of Jesus, it would go without saying that all children and young people, whatever their age, gender, racial background, culture, or disability, should always be treated with respect and dignity and that their safety and welfare should be a priority. Experience tells us that what this means in terms of the behaviour, attitude and actions of those who work with children and young people needs to be carefully thought through and clearly defined.
What one person sees as a ‘harmless joke’, another person understands as a form of ridicule that belittles and demeans
What one person offers as a gesture of affection and friendship, can be experienced by another as intrusive and threatening
Behaviour that is perfectly innocent for most people may in a very few be part of a progressive pattern of behaviour that is about developing an abusive relationship with a child or young person (what is often termed ‘grooming’)
Churches should therefore develop and set out a clear code of behaviour
for those who work with children and young people that tries, as far as possible, to make explicit what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. The code of behaviour should not only be seen as an important safeguarding measure, but should also be about modelling positive patterns of Christian behaviour to children and young people.