Co-written by Crispin Ketelhut
This organization is committed to providing a safe environment for children within all activities and ministries. Children are a most precious gift and all the faithful cooperate in taking every reasonable action to ensure their safety. An important tool in creating safe environments for children is a uniform Code of Conduct. The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to make clear to clergy, employees and volunteers that certain behaviors are unacceptable and to ensure proper monitoring of all youth.
These guidelines apply to all of this organization’s activities where youth are present.
All adults performing work, ministry or volunteer service within this organization are expected to follow these guidelines.
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Violations of these guidelines are a serious matter and will be investigated and resolved in accordance with this organization’s policy.
Those who work with children are serving as stewards of God’s precious gift of young life. Keeping this principle in mind will reinforce the need to respect boundaries and to provide an example of a holy life.
A. Adult Volunteer
1. Adult volunteers are defined as those 18 or older who are no longer in high school.
1a. Students who are in high school and have not reached their 19th birthday are to be treated as minors when participating in this organization’s activities.
1b. Adult volunteers may not volunteer in their parish’s youth ministry program until they reach 21 years of age if they were a participant in its youth activities as a minor.
2. Adult volunteers are not counselors. Their response to situations and conversations by minors may have potential legal implications and they should, therefore, know their boundaries. The role of an adult volunteer is limited to compassionate listening.
3. For the purpose of this document, all instances denoting requirements and/or guidelines for “adult volunteer(s)” are also binding for all clergy and this organization’s personnel.
B. Chaperone / Supervisor
1. A Chaperone/Supervisor is defined as an adult volunteer that has oversight or supervisory authority over youth. These individuals share in the responsibility and authority of this organization’s staff person designated to have oversight of a particular youth event or activity and its leaders.
1a. All Chaperones/Supervisors must be at least 21 years of age.
1b. When determining the appropriate ratio of Chaperones/Supervisors to minors for activities, a husband and wife that have direct supervision over the same group of individuals only count as one Chaperone/Supervisor.
1. For the purposes of this Code, “children,” “child,” “minor,” “youth,” or “young person” is defined to mean any person less than 18 years of age.
D. Social Media
1. Social Media is defined as any form of electronic communication through which a user creates, utilizes, accesses, retrieves, and/or visits online communities or systems to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.
2. For the purposes of this Code, Social Media is to encompass, but is not limited to, all of the following: email, texting, chat rooms, instant messaging, social networks, video messaging, on-line message boards, gaming systems, landline and mobile telephones, on- line voice communications, etc.
2a. In accordance with this organization’s Policy, as stated in the Information Security Policy,
“All information and messages that are created, sent, received or stored using this organization’s communication assets are the sole property of this organization, and no user has any ownership interest or expectation of privacy in such communications. This organization retains the right, in its sole discretion, to review all information or communications sent, received, stored, or posted using this organization’s communication assets. This organization also retains the right to track Internet site, chat room and newsgroup visits, as well as file downloads, for compliance with this organization’s policies and for other business reasons.
This organization has the right to conduct such review without prior notice to the employee. The user consents to allow this organizations information’s services department and management department access to, and review of, all materials created, stored, sent or received, by the user through any organizational network or Internet connection. Employees may not intercept or disclose, or assist in intercepting or disclosing, electronic communications.”
“This organization retains the right to monitor the content of electronic communications. The content of electronic communications and the usage of electronic communication systems will be monitored to support operational, maintenance, auditing, security, investigative activities and for other business reasons. IS staff will not review the content of an individual user’s communications out of personal curiosity or at the request of individuals who have not gone through the proper approval process.
A report of misconduct is to be sent to the Chancellor or the Moderator of the Curia to have email messages or Internet activity reviewed or monitored. The Chancellor or Moderator of the Curia will authorize or deny monitoring.
If authorized, the Chancellor or Moderator of the Curia will contact the IS Director to initiate the review / monitoring. The results will be returned to the Chancellor or the Moderator of the Curia.”
SOCIAL MEDIA, COMMUNICATION AND TECHNOLOGY
A. General Guidelines for Social Media
1. All ministry social networks and communication should be open and transparent.
2. All clergy must always self-identify themselves as clergy with the appropriate title in their username and/or profile.
3. Clergy social media accounts are always to be presumed to be ministry accounts and thus to be open and transparent.
4. Personal social media accounts may not be used for ministry communication with minors.
5. Each ministry that communicates with minors should establish a dedicated account that is used exclusively for ministerial purposes and that may be accessed, monitored and used by more than one unrelated adult volunteer.
6. Use of social media communication for private one-on-one contact with minors is not permitted. In the rare event that these activities occur, the communication must be kept on-file and at the organization location in an easily accessible format.
7. Written permission from their parent(s) or the legal guardian is necessary prior to any electronic communication with a minor that cannot be openly seen by the parents and unrelated adults.
8. All text-based communications sent to or received from young people must be copied to their parent(s) or the legal guardian or an additional adult volunteer. These communications must be kept on-file and at the organization location in an easily accessible format.
9. Communication with minors via electronic means is to be restricted to the hours that are appropriate for a phone call to the residence, except in the event of an emergency or to communicate time-sensitive information.
10. The “tagging” of a minor in a picture or video is prohibited.
10a. If an electronic photograph or video is posted on any ministry site, all names related to minors must be removed.
11. Further advancements in technology may require periodic updates and addendums to this section of the Code of Conduct. The universal principles provided for above are to be applied prudently and judiciously in the event an update has not occurred.
THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT PAGE BELOW SHOULD BE SIGNED AND RETURNED.
CODE OF CONDUCT RECEIPT FOR PERSONNEL AND VOLUNTEERS OF THIS ORGANIZATION:
The following is the official receipt denoting that the individual whose signature appears below has read and understands the guidelines contained in the attached document. This sheet will be kept on file at this organization indefinitely.
Please complete and return.
I have read and understand the guidelines contained in this organization’s Code of Conduct. I intend to follow these guidelines and to monitor and protect children and young people in my service to this organization.
Full Legal Name (Please Print)
Signature / Date
Position / Ministry
Parish / School / Organization
Email or Phone Number
This sample Code of Conduct is provided courtesy of Virtus Online, a program and service of The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc., in Tulsa, OK. This verbiage is only an excerpt from a Code of Conduct, and should not be used as an organization’s comprehensive policy guiding all adult behavior.