Church's Efforts Reveal One Pathway to Creating a Safe Environment for All

By Michael Klazema on 3/17/2020

What does it take to create a safe environment in a school, church, or business? This question is on the minds of leaders around the country as their organizations face threats ranging from harassment to gun violence. Schools and religious organizations face an especially intense level of scrutiny following years of headlines highlighting institutional failures that led to real harm for the vulnerable, including children. 

There is a growing consensus that baseline preventative efforts are not enough to combat the array of concerns that such organizations face today. Even smaller churches and private schools may choose to pursue a culture of safety founded on a robust risk management process. Fostering a culture of safety requires a comprehensive set of protocols that create and promote a safe environment.

One Catholic diocese in West Virginia has embraced that principle, creating a Safe Environment Program that encompasses all the layers necessary for robust security. The church had background checks in place already, but it chose to expand them to include not only clergy and religious school staff but also volunteers. Even the Bishop must undergo a fingerprint background check under the new policy. 

Upgraded background checks are only part of the new efforts. To improve safety over the long term, the diocese elected to engage an outside business for continuous employee monitoring and periodic on-site spot checks. The protocols aim to ensure that every location in the diocese follows the rules and has the appropriate systems in place. For added effectiveness, the diocese has developed an outside resource for reporting concerns anonymously, providing a neutral pathway for raising flags about concerning behavior. 

To oversee all these changes, the diocese created a new agency: the Office of Safe Environment. For other organizations and even commercial businesses, there are vital lessons to consider here. Replicating a similar process of codifying safety protocols could pay dividends. 

An encompassing set of rules and guidelines, powered by the right services, will develop a foundation for not only a safe environment but also a culture of safety. When every employee or individual in an organization feels supported, they are more likely to speak up when something isn't right. With appropriate oversight, everyone can do their part to protect one another and, in the case of schools and churches, the most vulnerable people under their care.

The lesson is clear: "trust but verify" is a viable way to create a culture of safety within an organization. Granting others a second chance is often crucial to organizations, but so is balancing equitable opportunity with safety. 

With, laying the groundwork for a comprehensive safety protocol is fast and simple. From church background checks to ongoing criminal monitoring, the right processes should incorporate all the right tools. 

Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • April 02 Advocates of fair hiring say that "ban the box" laws aid individuals with criminal records in finding work. Some studies suggest that they may have the opposite effect.
  • March 31 Georgia is one step closer to rewriting its expungement laws thanks to the State Senate’s unanimous approval of a piece of reform legislation. The law, if passed, would make more ex-offenders in the state eligible to petition for expungement.
  • March 26 Advocacy for "second chance" policies have led to broad changes for employers, but landlords could see fundamental shifts, too. Is there a developing trend of disallowing tenant background checks? 
  • March 24

    Devising an internal policy for employee background checks is a hurdle that all organizations must face. Here’s how to balance your employment process with legal requirements.

  • March 24 Regarding background checks for actors, the process varies by production company, film, or even role. Lesser-known actors filling supporting roles or stepping in as extras may be subject to standard temporary worker background checks.
  • March 19

    With the growth of "ban the box" laws and the contraction of the labor pool, the modern workforce has changed. Ongoing monitoring solutions are a vital tool in this new environment.

  • March 17 Every organization must provide a safe environment for the people it employs and serves. One West Virginia church's extensive efforts showcase the importance of well-defined protocols in creating safer spaces.
  • March 17 Landlords use a variety of tools to vet rental applicants before offering them a lease agreement. We explore whether evictions appear on the criminal history reports often used by property managers.
  • March 12 Choosing to go beyond its legal requirements, UMD may soon require background checks for all positions in the university. Some opponents question the necessity for such a policy. 
  • March 10 Handing over your passport at United States border crossing is a standard part of entry procedures, but what can border agents do with that info? We investigate background checks at border control.