My Two Cents
January 23, 2022, 9:00 AM

"Keeping Our Kids Safe"

Did you know that over the past year we have had a small group of people meeting regularly to talk about ways Christian Temple can be more actively involved in keeping the children and youth of our community and congregation as safe as possible. This effort arises out of two continuing congregational priorities.

First, when we dedicate children in the sanctuary as infants, we ask the parents and the family to make promises around how they will raise their children. But we also ask the congregation to make a promise "to do all we can to end all wars, and all prejudice and all hatred and all things that are hurtful to a growing child". While there are many ways we can fulfill that promise, certainly one way is to draw upon the wisdom of our members to give us suggestions around keeping our kids safe in this crazy world where we live. Below you will find such a list.

The other congregational emphasis that gives rise to this group's efforts comes from an event we held almost three years ago now led by Victoria Wick, called "Deepening Our Welcome- Safe Spaces and Beyond". At this event we talked about how we as a congregation might be more proactive about becoming a safe space. At that event we talked about being a safe place for kids to explore their sexual and gender orientation. We talked about being a safe place for youth to gather and talk about what really matters to them. We talked about being more diligent in following our own Child Protection Policy. And, we talked about providing practical safety tips for parents who are navigating the tricky waters of raising kids.

So, this list arises out of both of these priorities. And it has been timed to come out during the same week when The Samaritan Women" (an organization that is dedicated to ending the reality of human trafficking around the country) will be celebrating their annual "Light the Darkness" day. On Thursday, January 27th you are invited to share a light on your front porch or somewhere around your house. And you are of course welcome to look over this list of ways to keep our kids safe. While some of the items on this list may seem obvious, most kids who become estranged from their parents and families have given us hints that something was going on along the way.

Finally, to layer one more effort happening in the life of our congregation around "Keeping Our Kids Safe", this Sunday Christy Page, Volunteer Director for the Catonsville Children's Home, will make a video presentation about the work of this important child service organization right in our backyard. Before Christmas our CYF (with a big assist from YOU!) went shopping for individual kids at CCH and also presented them with a check to provide something for one of the residence cottages.

For now, we offer this list of suggestions. But, I wonder what we might do next to continue to follow our call to "Keep our Kids Safe"!

Shalom   ~Rick


Tips for Parents

1. Be attentive, and observant. When your child/teen wants to talk, take the time to sit down and listen, and be present.

2. Be observant if your child/teen behavior changes such as change in appearance, demeanor, inappropriately dressed, getting into trouble at school.

3. Set boundaries on the amount of time per day your child/teen spends on social media.

4. Discourage your child/teen from spending the night at someone else's house. Visits are fine, but pick them up before bedtime.

5. If a teen has an "older boyfriend" this could be a red flag

6. Speak to your child/teen about the photos they post on social media, and the personal information that is freely given out such as school, address, cell phone no etc....

7. Encourage your child/teen to participate in activities to keep them free from boredom. Sports, dancing, theater, school/church activities etc..


Tips for Children/Teens

1. Do not post personal information online. (age, DOB, address, telephone no., school)

2. Do not communicate with someone who has made you feel uncomfortable and afraid. Be sure to tell your parents or a trusted adult.

3. Do not join online groups, chats, or games without talking to your parents.

4. Do not meet with someone you met online without telling your parents/guardian first.

5. Do not click on any link that you do not know, and you are not sure is legitimate.

6. Do remember that people may lie online, and say they are something or someone they are not.