Protecting the children in the church--from us

by Andrée Seu Peterson

Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013, at 11:00 pm

I am about to describe to you an incident that occurred on Sunday that is really a non-incident, or would have been in your grandmother’s time.

I was the “helper” in the kindergarten/first grade Sunday school classroom. A little girl had to go to the restroom so I told the two teachers I would take her down the hallway and be back in a jiffy. The two stopped and said I needed to take another child with me: there must be two at a time. And so a second child was solicited to make the trip.

I thought it slightly odd but took both children, and that was that.

It just so happened that this was also the Sunday I was required to attend a mandatory class on child abuse. It was at this meeting I learned, to my surprise, that the reason for the compulsory escort of two children at a time was for their protection—from me!

This is, evidently, the direction the church has taken in its goal toward zero possibility of harm to the children in their temporary charge. The pastor leading the class said the pages of regulations, and the forms we were to fill out consenting to a government background check, were 98 percent for the sake of the children. I bided my time nervously to learn of the other 2 percent.

It was also established that a teacher is not to enter the restroom (I do not mean the individual stall inside the restroom) with the child. At this point I admitted publicly to my fresh violation but was forgiven because of my ignorance of the rule.

Also, a teacher may not be in a room with a child alone. (I raised my hand and said that some of my best experiences in school as a child had been that one-on-one time with a teacher.)

A teacher must be careful regarding any touching of students, we learned. As a real-life example, the pastor mentioned a time years ago when he was sitting cross-legged on the classroom floor, telling Bible stories to a circle of first-graders, and how uncomfortable he felt when two little girls (who both happened to be fatherless) were cuddling a bit too close beside him. He turned to me and said that one of those little girls was mine.

Toward the end of the meeting I learned the exact nature of the teeny-weeny 2 percent of the church’s concern: The pastor disclosed, in a somber tone, that one big lawsuit and we were done.

I went home and thought about a few things. One is that the obsequious capitulation to the government’s ever-encroaching demands leads to ridiculous extremes and will eventually cause the church to lose its soul: The 2 percent will in the end swallow up the 98 percent.

The other is that we know what Jesus would have done with the little children who wanted to be near Him: He would have held them in His arms.

Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.

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