Policy regarding minors in building with no adults

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michaelfish
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Policy regarding minors in building with no adults

Postby michaelfish » Fri May 30, 2014 1:24 am

Is there a church policy regarding the use of church buildings when no adult is on the premises?

Teenagers and children (minors) sometimes use the cultural hall basketball court by obtaining keys from their parents. They access and use the building when no one else is there.

There are policies regarding activities requiring priesthood. For instance adult supervision is required if its an overnight activity (Handbook 2, 13.6.2) I.

Is there a policy regarding minors accessing buildings without adults present such as for basketball practice?

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Re: Policy regarding minors in building with no adults

Postby Mikerowaved » Fri May 30, 2014 1:54 am

The only thing I saw was in HB1 8.3.5, where it's counciled that instruction be given to women and children to not be alone in an unlocked church building.

So does that mean if they are in a group and/or lock the door behind them it's OK? Obviously, not in every case. I guess I'd be OK with it if the bishop over the youth gave it his approval (and hopefully a generous helping of guidelines to go with).
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Re: Policy regarding minors in building with no adults

Postby russellhltn » Fri May 30, 2014 2:36 am

Mikerowaved wrote:The only thing I saw was in HB1 8.3.5, where it's counciled that instruction be given to women and children to not be alone in an unlocked church building.

In the same section I noticed that leaders control key distribution. So I'd question if this is under their control or not. Which in the end probably comes back to permission.
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Re: Policy regarding minors in building with no adults

Postby lajackson » Fri May 30, 2014 7:33 pm

michaelfish wrote:Is there a church policy regarding the use of church buildings when no adult is on the premises?

At least two adult supervisors should be present at every activity. See the attachment to the First Presidency letter dated May 15, 2014, item 8. This letter seems to come out over and over and over. Perhaps there is a reason.

After I provided instructions to the parents involved, I would take away their keys if they let their children run around the Church unsupervised.

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Re: Policy regarding minors in building with no adults

Postby TinMan » Fri May 30, 2014 8:27 pm

But the letter you quoted is "General guidelines for planning activities for members, especially children youth and young single adults." These are not planned activities.

There is also in handbook 2:21.2 in the not approved section: "6.Holding organized athletic events that are not sponsored by the Church, including practices." But that still doesn't seem to cover the opening post's question as these are not organized athletic events. It is kids playing basketball with their friends.

We have been both directions on this. You could certainly do as lajackson suggests. We did it. But we found it caused more problems than it solved. Kids would leave small pebbles in the funeral doors (that are rarely checked) in the chapel so they didn't close all the way. They would leave windows unlocked. They used coat hangers to go between the doors and grab the crash bars.
The FM group changed the doors so they couldn't do that. We had stiffer patrols at night making sure the windows were all closed and locked. And so on. But they still found ways to get in. One kid even stole his dads key. Dad thought he lost it and so we got him a replacement.

So. We met as an agent bishopric and discussed the problem. We had lots fewer problems when we made the rule they had to tell someone in the bishopric they were going to used the gym to play with their friends.

We meet with all the young men and women and their parents for a fifth Sunday in the fall every year. One of the things we talk about is the policy for using the gym for pick up games with their friends. We tell them that if we have even one problem, it will ruin it for everyone and we will lock up the building and not allow access. We explain the rules. Stay out of the chapel. no roller blades/skates on the basketball floor, turn out the lights and make sure the entire building is locked up when they leave. Notify one of the bishopric they are using it. And so on. For the most part, if you trust them and explain the rules, we have good success. We discourage younger kids from doing this. We tell the 11 year old scouts it is a privileged they can look forward to.

We figure if they are in the church and behaving themselves, it is better that the parents at least know where they are.

We have had much fewer problems. Once in a while we drop in on their games and either join in or let them know that we check up on them. But over the years, I have developed some pretty close relationship with some of the boys I might not otherwise, simply by having them drop by my house to borrow the loaner key so they can play with their friends. They take ownership in the responsibility

I suggest you discuss it with the bishoprics in your building and the Stake President and come up with a policy. We may do something different depending on the maturity of the kids, but for now, it works well for us.

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Re: Policy regarding minors in building with no adults

Postby lajackson » Sat May 31, 2014 7:00 am

TinMan wrote:These are not planned activities.
. . . these are not organized athletic events.

I agree with almost everything you said, right down to the pebble in the funeral door. Been there. Done that.

You will be fine until something goes wrong that could have been prevented, and then you will wish for the rest of your life that you had insisted there be at least one responsible adult present.

But as for written policy, unless there is something in the Facilities Handbook, I know of no other guidance than what has been shared, including by others, in this topic.

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Re: Policy regarding minors in building with no adults

Postby aebrown » Sat May 31, 2014 9:19 am

TinMan wrote:But the letter you quoted is "General guidelines for planning activities for members, especially children youth and young single adults." These are not planned activities.

The Safety in Church Activities letter says nothing about "planned activities." It talks about "activities" and this is definitely an activity (see virtually any dictionary definition of "activity"). If an activity takes place that isn't planned, that doesn't make it cease to be an activity, and doesn't exempt it from the wise counsel of our Church leaders.

That said, it's still the responsibility of local leaders with priesthood keys to make decisions for a particular situation, considering all the relevant risks and benefits, and seeking inspiration.

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Re: Policy regarding minors in building with no adults

Postby TinMan » Sat May 31, 2014 8:44 pm

aebrown wrote:
TinMan wrote:But the letter you quoted is "General guidelines for planning activities for members, especially children youth and young single adults." These are not planned activities.

The Safety in Church Activities letter says nothing about "planned activities." It talks about "activities" and this is definitely an activity (see virtually any dictionary definition of "activity"). If an activity takes place that isn't planned, that doesn't make it cease to be an activity, and doesn't exempt it from the wise counsel of our Church leaders.

From the cover letter:"Stake Presidents and bishoprics are responsible to oversee the planning of Church activities. Leaders should approve only those activities with a minimal risk for injury or illness. Stake and ward council meetings provide opportunities to carefully plan activities and discuss safety guidelines and safe practices."

That is the part that to me says that these guidelines, while good in a general sense are specifically for activities planned by the bishopric and ward council, and not necessarily for pick up games approved by parents.

YMMV

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Re: Policy regarding minors in building with no adults

Postby TinMan » Sat May 31, 2014 8:53 pm

lajackson wrote:I agree with almost everything you said, right down to the pebble in the funeral door. Been there. Done that.

You will be fine until something goes wrong that could have been prevented, and then you will wish for the rest of your life that you had insisted there be at least one responsible adult present.


Just anecdotal evidence: We have had more damage to the building and one life threatening injury from kids trying to break in to play basketball than we have had with our "open door" policy. Our building has the kind of windows that pivot horizontally in the center, leaving a small space above and below the window to crawl through when they are open all the way. Instead of going underneath the window to get in, one deacon went over the top of the glass, put his leg through it and severed the femoral artery. He nearly bled to death in the relief society room.

Accidents can happen either way.

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Re: Policy regarding minors in building with no adults

Postby TinMan » Sat May 31, 2014 9:00 pm

What if a bunch of kids come play Ultimate Frisbee on the church lawn. Or come ride bikes in the Church Parking lot. Should we also insist they bring two adults along with them?

Is outside the church different than inside the church?


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