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What is breaking the silence?

Some Christians give-in to the temptation to sexually violate or offend others. In other cases, people outside the church may seek association with church ministries in order to gain access to children and other vulnerable people. While hoping that such people will be open to the gospel dynamic of repentance, confession, forgiveness and personal renewal, the church must be realistic about what can, does and has happened.…Mum and child

Breaking the Silence: Policy and procedures for protecting against and dealing with Sexual Abuse within the church, Presbyterian Social Services, 1st Edition, November 1995

 

 

 

In 1994 the Wood Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service was given a specific reference to investigate and report on paedophilia and pederasty in New South Wales.  The churches came under the spotlight in the Commission’s investigations, and were in the most part found wanting in their failure to protect children from abusers in the church. The Presbyterian Church of New South Wales was commended for the policy already in place, known as Breaking the Silence.

Breaking the Silence was adopted by the General Assembly in 1997, and revisions were adopted in 1998.  This represented a very significant step towards understanding and dealing with the problem of abuse within the church in New South Wales, the ACT, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

Since then there have been significant developments in child protection legislation, mandatory and voluntary reporting procedures, the participation of offices such as the Ombudsman in monitoring investigations of allegations, the involvement of government departments responsible for caring for children, such as  Community Services, and the development of Commissions for Children and Young people in various States and Territories.

Breaking the Silence in its present form is intended to address these issues and provide all congregations, Presbyteries, organisations, and committees within the church with a comprehensive tool to meet our legislated obligations and the Presbyterian Church of Australia’s Code of Discipline.

Breaking the Silence 2015 replaces all existing policies and processes in place in the church. This includes previous editions of Breaking the Silence and any policies and processes.

Breaking the Silence acknowledges that some organisations, such as schools, pre-schools, childcare centres and hospitals, within the church may wish to establish or have already established policies and procedures for dealing with and preventing abuse. These organisations may seek to become an approved organisation and thereby be exempt from the provisions of Breaking the Silence.

Breaking the Silence applies to anyone with a position of authority within the church, paid or unpaid, and to all those who work with children and young people. Breaking the Silence applies in the Presbyterian Church of Australia in the State of New South Wales including the Australian Capital Territory, in the State of Western Australia, in the State of Tasmania, in the State of South Australia, Presbyterian Inland Mission and APWM.

Where to find help

There are people who can help you… and who want to help you…

Conduct Protocol Unit

Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance in relation to a complaint, an enquiry or if you would simply like more information about conduct protocol issues. Please be assured that all matters will be dealt with promptly and confidentially.

Jon Flood, Director
Conduct Protocol Unit
Presbyterian Social Services
Email:  jflood@pcnsw.org.au
Tel:  (02) 9690 9325

Jericho Road Counselling Service
Free call 1800 818 133

 

Quick reference contact numbers

 

Australian Capital Territory  ACT Community Services – 1300 556 729
New South Wales 24 hours – 132 111 for the general public

FACS (DoCS) Helpline 13 3627 (or 13 DOCS for easy memory recall) for Mandatory Reporters to get priority access to a FACS Helpline Child Protection Caseworker.

Northern Territory  Child Abuse Task Force, Sexual Offences involving Children – 1800 700 250
Queensland Child Abuse Prevention Service – 07 3224 8045 or 1800 811 810 after hours Crisis Care – 07 3235 9999 or 1800 177 135
South Australia Families SA Child Abuse Report Line – 13 14 78
Tasmania  Child Protection Services – 1300 737 639
Victoria Child Protection Crisis Line – 13 12 78
Western Australia Department of Child Protection and Family Support, Crisis Care Helpline – 08 9223 1111 or 1800 199 008

Child abuse

Jesus’ teachings about children are sobering:

If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone tied around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6

Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin!  Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come.”  Matthew 18:7

These words reflect a recognition of a child’s particular vulnerability to harm and a particular obligation of God’s people to be mindful of their interests and, most certainly, to protect them from harm in all situations and environments.

There are many formal and acceptable definitions of child abuse. Within Breaking the Silence, child abuse will include those actions defined as child abuse under various items of State and Territory legislation.  The provisions of this Section apply to all States and Territories within the church unless specifically indicated.

The following is the definition of child abuse adopted by the church. There are different kinds of child abuse and all of them require our attention:

  • Neglect: Chronic failure to provide the basic necessities of life, such as love and affection, safety, food, clothing, hygiene, medical care and education.
  • Emotional Abuse: Depriving a child or young person of love and attention which can include but is not limited to constant criticism, isolation, excessive teasing or terrorising. These actions and others are used by a person in a position of power to make the child feel worthless. It may also include actions that cause serious mental anguish without any legitimate disciplinary purpose as judged by the standards of the time when the incidents occurred.
  • Physical Abuse: All non-accidental physical injuries. This can include but is not limited to hitting, beating, burning, scalding or shaking, and actions that cause serious pain without any legitimate disciplinary purpose as judged by the standards of the time when the incidents occurred.
  • Sexual Abuse: Involvement in sexual activities with anyone who is older, bigger, in authority or perceived authority or more powerful where the child or young person is unable to give informed consent. These activities may be initiated by either party. This includes but is not limited to touching in a sexual way, masturbating, flashing, oral sex, intercourse or eroding the sexual boundary between the two people through sexual innuendo, kissing, unwanted or unnecessary touching and overly long hugs. It can involve apparently consensual intercourse or sexual activity but the validity of consent is negated by the power differential or the fact that one person has a moral and spiritual responsibility towards the other. It also includes permitting another person to undertake these activities with your knowledge or in your presence. It is not possible for a person under the age set by legislation to legally consent to sexual activity.
  • Domestic Violence: Any of the above four forms of abuse within the context of a family.  It also includes social isolation and / or financial control or deprivation. Domestic violence can be carried out upon a child or young person or they can be a witness to violence. That is, to fall within this provision, the violence does not have to be directed at the child.

Child abuse may also be sexual misconduct or reportable conduct and is a notifiable circumstance.

Sexual misconduct

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3,4

What is sexual misconduct?

Sexual misconduct is contact or invitation, via any means, of a sexual nature which is inconsistent with the integrity of a person in a position of authority within the church. Sexual misconduct includes any behaviour that could be reasonably considered to be sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, coercion or grooming of an adult or a child or young peGirl thinkingrson.

Sexualised behaviour is any behaviour that may reasonably be perceived to be of a sexual nature according to the standards of the time by the per
son to whom it is directed. Sexualised behaviour is only permitted as set out in the Word of God.

Sexual misconduct is a notifiable circumstance.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault means any intentional or reckless act, use of force or threat to use force against an adult, child or young person without their consent, including:

  • sexual touching and fondling;
  • being forced to touch or fondle another person;
  • kissing or holding in a sexual manner;
  • being forced to perform oral sex;
  • sexual intercourse; and
  • sexual penetration.

Sexual assault is a form of sexual misconduct and is a notifiable circumstance.

Sexual exploitation

Sexual exploitation refers to any form of sexualised behaviour with an adult, child or young person, whether or not there is consent and regardless of who initiated the behaviour, where that behaviour is contrary to the Word of God. This includes among other things:

  • a range of behaviours or a pattern of behaviour aimed at the involvement of others in sexual acts, including but not limited to coercionor grooming behaviour,
  • sexualised behaviour with a person below the age of consent,
  • sexualised behaviour with a person with whom there is a supervisory, pastoral care, or counselling relationship,
  • the production, distribution, possession of or accessing of pornographic material of any kind,
  • taking advantage of the conscious or unconscious use of sexually provocative behaviour that some victims of abuse display,
  • engaging the services of a prostitute, or soliciting or providing such services,
  • visiting, without legitimate reason, a brothel or any place maintained for the abuse-of-sex industry,
  • viewing or reading, in print or otherwise, material of a sexually explicit nature, except for a legitimate purpose,
  • participating in sexually explicit conversation via social media, chat rooms, gaming or any other means, and
  • asking, without legitimate reason, any questions about the intimate details of a person’s sexual life or providing details of your own sexual life.

Very occasionally, it may be necessary within the context of pastoral care to ask questions about a person’s sexual life or history. This should be done extremely carefully and with another person present (such as the person’s husband or wife or a trusted friend).

Sexual exploitation is a form of sexual misconduct and is a notifiable circumstance.

SexuaNo harassmentl harassment

Sexual harassment means unwelcome sexualised behaviour, whether intended or not, in relation to an adult, child or young person where that person reasonably feels in all circumstances offended, belittled or threatened. Such behaviour may consist of a single incident or several incidents over a period of time. It includes among other things:

  • implicit or explicit demands or suggestions for sexual activities,
  • making any gesture, action or comment of a sexual nature to a person or about a person in their presence,
  • making jokes containing sexual references or innuendo using any form of communication,
  • exposure to any form of sexually explicit or suggestive material, including but not limited to pornography of any kind,
  • physical contact that is inappropriate to the situation or uncomfortable or confusing for the receiver, including kissing, hugging, touching, pinching, patting or aggressive physical conduct,
  • touching any sexual part of the body, including the “only kidding” or accidental occ
    asions of sexual touch,
  • generating or participating in inappropriate personal correspondence (including electronic communication) in respect of sexual or romantic feelings or in breach of the Code of Conduct,
  • inappropriate giving of gifts, including those of a sexual, suggestive or romantic nature that is in breach of the Code of Conduct,
  • inappropriate or unnecessary discussion of, or inquiry about, personal matters of a sexual nature,
  • inappropriate intrusion of personal space or physical privacy, including being alone in a bedroom or bathroom or allowing inappropriate exposure during activities that require dressing or changing clothes,
  • voyeurism, and
  • persistent following or stalking.

Very occasionally, it may be necessary within the context of pastoral care to ask questions about a person’s sexual life or history. This should be done extremely carefully and with another person present (such as the person’s husband or wife or a trusted friend).

Sexual harassment is a form of sexual misconduct and is a notifiable circumstance.

Coercion or grooming behaviour

Coercion or grooming behaviour refers to physical or psychological actions intrinsic to initiating or hiding abusive behaviour, which involved the manipulative cultivation of relationships with vulnerable adults, children and/or young people, their carers and others in authority.

Grooming behaviour or coercion is a pattern of behaviour aimed at engaging an adult, child or young person as a precursor to abuse. The behaviour can include persuading the person that a “special” relationship exists through spending inappropriate special time with them, inappropriately giving gifts, showing special favours to them but not others, allowing them to overstep rules etc. It can also include the testing of boundaries, such as undressing in front of them, allowing them to sit on the lap, talking about sex, “accidental” touching of genitals etc. These behaviours may not indicate a risk if occurring in isolation but if there is a pattern of behaviour occurring it may indicategrooming or coercion.

Abusers often cultivate relationships with children and young people and use grooming behaviour to prepare them for abuse. This can be done in a number of ways, including but not limited to:

  • identifying children or young people who are emotionally needy,
  • establishing a relationship with the child or young person’s family to gain trust,
  • touching the child or young person in the presence of the family to get them and the family used to the behaviour,
  • initiating contact in situations where no other adult is present or setting up situations where this is the case,
  • setting a child or young person apart from peers and / or siblings as “special”, and/or
  • establishing a “peer” or “buddy” relationship with them.

Similar manipulative behaviours may be used with regard to vulnerable adults.

Grooming behaviour or coercion may include, among other things, actions that could be considered to be sexual exploitation.

Coercion or grooming behaviour is a form of sexual misconduct and is a notifiable circumstance.

Every day we come into contact with people, (adults, children and young people) who are vulnerable in one way or another. As a church we are privileged to be in a position where these people trust us.Happy boys

We therefore need to be clear that when we become aware someone has been abused we have an obligation to report. The legal reporting requirements can differ depending upon what kind of abuse has taken place and who is involved.

All abuse will be reported to the appropriate civil authorities and the CPU.

Abuse is a broad term. For the purposes of Breaking the Silence, abuse includes:

  • child abuse
  • risk of significant harm,
  • reportable conduct,
  • sexual misconduct, and/or
  • conduct that breaches the Breaking the Silence Code of Conduct.

All abuse is unacceptable. In the church we aim to provide a safe environment for adults, children and young people no matter how they come into contact with us. Further, many of our leaders and employees are required under law to report any evidence of reportable conduct or risk of significant harm. Therefore it is essential that we clearly understand what it is and how to recognise it.

 

What is a notifiable circumstance?

Notifiable circumstance: The CPU must be advised of all notifiable circumstances, including:

  • any fact, circumstance, allegation, notification, knowledge of, verbal advice of, direct or indirect connection to, or attempt of abuse, and
  • all allegations, complaints, reportable allegations and allegations: reportable conduct.

A notifiable circumstance may identify someone who is currently or has been a member of the church, someone who is currently or has been a person in a position of authority within the church, a current or ex-employee, a current or ex-student, a current or ex-volunteer and / or a current or ex-third party.


Who needs to report?

All notifiable circumstances must be reported to the CPU immediately.

Anyone may make a report to the Police or Community Services if they have reasonable grounds to believe a child is at risk of significant harm.

In the church it has been agreed that any person with a position of authority within the church, be it paid or unpaid, or any person working with children or young people in any capacity will consider themselves to be mandatory reporters, even where they may only be voluntary reporters under legislation.

In all States and Territories, regardless of whether mandatory reporting is required under legislation, any person in a position of authority within the church who knows, believes or suspects on reasonable grounds, that a child or young person is at risk of harm or has suffered abuse must make a report.

In States and Territories where mandatory reporting applies to a person because of their role within the church this report must be made to the appropriate authority. For those whose role within the church does not make them a mandatory reporter, and in those States and Territories where mandatory reporting does not apply, the report must be made within the church to the CPU.

The CPU makes appropriate notification to insurers on behalf of supervising bodies.

 

Reportable conduct

Reportable conduct: is a defined term that appears in the Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW) and also in the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 (NSW). Section 25A of the Ombudsman Act defines reportable conduct as:

  • any sexual offence, or sexual misconduct, committed against, with or in the presence of a child (including a child pornography offence), or
  • any assault, ill-treatment or neglect of a child, or
  • any behaviour that causes psychological harm to a child, whether or not, in any case, with the consent of the child.

Reportable conduct does not extend to:

  • conduct that is reasonable for the purposes of the discipline, management or care of children, having regard to the age, maturity, health or other characteristics of the children and to any relevant codes of conduct or professional standards, or
  • the use of physical force that, in all the circumstances, is trivial or negligible, but only if the matter is to be investigated and the result of the investigation recorded under workplace employment procedures, or
  • conduct of a class or kind exempted from being reportable conduct by the Ombudsman under section 25CA.

Reportable conduct is a standard that is applied to all people in a position of authority within the church under the Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW).  Reportable conduct includes conduct that is defined in relevant legislation that occurs within a leader’s public ministry as well as their personal life.  All reportable conduct is a notifiable circumstance.

 

Risk of significant harm

Risk of significant harm is a term used by Community Services for situations where a reasonable person has current concerns about the safety, welfare or wellbeing of a child or young person.

In New South Wales, this includes current concerns for any of the following reasons:

  • the basic physical or psychological needs of the child or young person are not being met (neglect),
  • the parents or caregivers have not arranged necessary medical care (unwilling or unable to do so),
  • risk of physical or sexual abuse or ill-treatment (physical or sexual abuse),
  • parent or caregiver’s behaviour towards the child causes or risks psychological harm (emotional abuse), and / or
  • incidents of domestic violence and as a consequence a child is at risk of serious physical or psychological harm (domestic or family violence).

Conduct putting a child or young person at risk of significant harm may also be reportable conduct and is a notifiable circumstance.

 

Notification of the Police

An aggrieved person always has the right to seek lawful remedies outside the church and our internal procedure may not always be a substitute for other actions. A matter must be reported to the Police if:

  • someone is in danger,
  • Community Services or the CPU requests that a report is made,
  • there is knowledge which would assist authorities to apprehend or convict a person of a serious offence, or
  • the incident involves either physical or sexual assault regardless of age.

 

Notification of external agencies

The CPU will assist in identifying which civil authorities (including Community Services, the NSW Ombudsman, the Commission for Children and Young People etc) need to be notified in relation to each specific report.

 

Protection of persons making reports

If, in relation to a child or young person, a person makes a report in good faith to Community Services or to a person who has the power or responsibility to protect the child or young person, such as the Police, legislation in most States and Territories provides significant protection. If you have any concerns about this aspect of reporting, please contact the CPU.

Our policy

This statement applies to all persons holding a position of authority within the church, and all congregations, presbyteries, organisations, and committees within the church. It is our commitment to dealing with abuse within the church.

This policy statement relates to abuse as defined in Breaking the Silence. It does not apply to any other forms of abuse, grievance or personal injury claim.

POLICY STATEMENT

  • We commit ourselves to respect other people’s minds, emotions and bodies. We have established Breaking the Silence as the public criteria according to which the community may judge the resolve of the church to address issues of abuse within the church.
  • We acknowledge and accept the trust granted to us by those who are taking part in church activities, their families, and the wider community. We therefore commit ourselves to striving to ensure that all our actions are morally upright.
  • We acknowledge that, as a church, our responses to victims in the past have varied greatly. We express regret and sorrow for the hurt caused whenever the response appeared to deny or minimise the pain that victims have experienced.
  • We are committed to establishing a process that strives for truth and confidentiality. We will ensure as far as possible that a compassionate response is the first priority in all allegations, even at a time when it is not yet certain that the allegations are accurate, through offering assistance, protection and care without passing judgement or prejudicing the rights of the alleged offender. We acknowledge that concealing the truth is contrary to the character of God, unjust to victims and a disservice to offenders.
  • We understand and value the need for support to all parties involved in an allegation, including the aggrieved person and the alleged offender, and we actively seek to provide this support.
  • We acknowledge the personal and public difficulties that a false, misconceived, malicious or vexatious allegation can cause for the person accused. We will take whatever steps are possible to address these difficulties.
  • We are willing to know the full extent of the problem of abuse and the causes of such behaviour within the church. We will strive to be aware of our legal responsibilities and obligations in relation to prevention, reporting and processing requirements and seek to meet them at all times.
  • We acknowledge that we have had to make changes in the way that we relate to children and young people and others, as a result, some good things have been lost, however we will bear this loss to ensure as far as possible that the vulnerable are safe.
  • We will ensure as far as possible that all people in positions of authority within the church and/or working with children and young people are aware of the appropriate standard of conduct and boundaries. We require those who work on behalf of the church to indicate their agreement with this policy statement and work towards providing an environment that prevents abuse.
  • We believe that churches ought to be places of safety and refuge for children, young people and others, where they should be and feel safe from any threat when on church property or involved in activities operated by the church, or accessing services provided by the church. We believe that the church should be a place where people can disclose abuse and have it dealt with effectively.
  • We will establish a prevention strategy that includes screening, sound recruitment and selection procedures, clear boundaries, risk identification and management, education, support, supervision and training.
  • We acknowledge that the age of consent for sexual activity is determined by legislation. However, we are mindful that this must be read in the light of our moral and spiritual responsibility. All people in a position of authority within the church, be it real or perceived, paid or unpaid, have a moral and spiritual responsibility towards those over whom they have authority. In this situation it is never appropriate to take part in sexual activity of any kind, regardless of the person’s age. We affirm that sexual behaviour belongs in a marriage relationship only and that in this context it is a good gift of God.
  • All allegations will be notified to the appropriate external authorities, overseen by the CPU, investigated thoroughly and determined as described in Breaking the Silence.
  • Irrespective of any other action that may be taken by authorities outside the church, the church reserves the right to exercise its powers according to the Code of Discipline and Breaking the Silence wherever this action is deemed necessary.

Our Code of Conduct

The following constitutes the church’s Code of Conduct for behaviour for a person in a position of authority within the church:

  1. As a person in a position of authority within the church you must always be concerned about the integrity of your position, likely perceptions of the church and the wider community, and the need to acknowledge the real or perceived power given to you as a result of holding this position. You should avoid situations where you are vulnerable to temptation or where your conduct may be construed to be a breach of this Code of Conduct. You will make yourself familiar with the provisions of Breaking the Silence.
  2. You must not fail to take action to prevent to the best of your ability and report as required any of the following:
    • child abuse,
    • a child or young person at risk of significant harm,
    • reportable conduct,
    • sexual misconduct, and / or
    • conduct that breaches the Breaking the Silence Code of Conduct.
  3. Sexualised behaviour is any behaviour that may reasonably be perceived to be of a sexual nature according to the standards of the time by the person to whom it is directed. Sexualised behaviour is only permitted as set out in the Word of God. Except with one’s own marriage partner, all sexualised behaviour is forbidden. If you are not married you must abstain from all sexual or sexualised behaviour.
  4. You must not engage in or condone any behaviour that could be considered to be:
    • child abuse,
    • putting a child or young person at risk of significant harm,
    • reportable conduct, and / or
    • conduct that breaches this Breaking the Silence Code of Conduct.
  5. You must not engage in or condone any behaviour that could be considered to be sexual misconduct, understanding that sexual misconduct is contact or invitation, via any means, of a sexual nature which is inconsistent with the integrity of a person in a position of authority within the church. Sexual misconduct includes any behaviour that could be reasonably considered to be sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, coercion or grooming of an adult or a child or young person.
  6. Sexual exploitation refers to any form of sexualised behaviour with an adult, child or young person, whether or not there is consent and regardless of who initiated the behaviour, where that behaviour is contrary to the Word of God. Therefore, you will not among other things engage in or condone any of the following:
    • behaviour or a pattern of behaviour aimed at the involvement of others in sexual acts, including but not limited to coercion or grooming behaviour,
    • sexualised behaviour with a person below the age of consent,
    • sexualised behaviour with a person with whom there is a supervisory, pastoral care, or counselling relationship,
    • the production, distribution, possession of or accessing of pornographic material of any kind,
    • taking advantage of the conscious or unconscious use of sexually provocative behaviour that some victims of abuse display,
    • engaging the services of a prostitute, or soliciting or providing such services,
    • visiting, without legitimate reason, a brothel or any place maintained for the abuse-of-sex industry,
    • viewing or reading, in print or otherwise, material of a sexually explicit nature, except for a legitimate purpose,
    • participating in sexually explicit conversation via social media, chat rooms, gaming or any other means, and
    • asking, without legitimate reason, any questions about the intimate details of a person’s sexual life or providing details of your own sexual life.
  7. Sexual harassment means unwelcome sexualised behaviour, whether intended or not, in relation to an adult, child or young person where that person reasonably feels in all circumstances offended, belittled or threatened. Such behaviour may consist of a single incident or several incidents over a period of time. Therefore, you will not, among other things engage in or condone:
    • implicit or explicit demands or suggestions for sexual activities,
    • making any gesture, action or comment of a sexual nature to a person or about a person in their presence,
    • making jokes containing sexual references or innuendo using any form of communication,
    • exposure to any form of sexually explicit or suggestive material, including but not limited to pornography of any kind,
    • physical contact that is inappropriate to the situation or uncomfortable or confusing for the receiver, including kissing, hugging, touching, pinching, patting or aggressive physical conduct,
    • touching any sexual part of the body, including the “only kidding” or accidental occasions of sexual touch,
    • generating or participating in inappropriate personal correspondence (including electronic communication) in respect of sexual or romantic feelings or in breach of the Code of Conduct,
    • inappropriate giving of gifts, including those of a sexual, suggestive or romantic nature that is in breach of the Code of Conduct,
    • inappropriate or unnecessary discussion of, or inquiry about, personal matters of a sexual nature,
    • inappropriate intrusion of personal space or physical privacy, including being alone in a bedroom or bathroom or allowing inappropriate exposure during activities that require dressing or changing clothes,
    • voyeurism, and
    • persistent following or stalking.
  8. Coercion or grooming behaviour refers to physical or psychological actions intrinsic to initiating or hiding abusive behaviour, which involved the manipulative cultivation of relationships with vulnerable adults, children and / or young people, their carers and others in authority. You will not exhibit any behaviour that could be considered to be coercion or grooming behaviour.
  9. With regard to children and young people:
    • You will not visit a child or young person in their own home unless a parent is present or you visit with another person in a position of authority within the church with parental permission.
    • You will not conduct a camp or other activity involving overnight accommodation without appropriate “camp parents” (ideally a married couple over the age of 25 years, of known maturity and Christian commitment) approved by the supervising body.
    • You will not provide any form of accommodation for any reason where there is not strict segregation by sex, with the exception of married couples and families. Supervision of children and/or young people must be provided by a person of the same sex.
    • You will ensure that any activity involving children and / or young people is open to observation by parents and other adults with a legitimate interest.
  10. With regard to adults, children and young people:
    • You will not condone or participate in bullying behaviour, where bullying is the repeated seeking out or targeting of an adult, child or young person to cause them distress and humiliation or to exploit them, including exclusion from a peer group, intimidation and extortion.
    • You will not condone or participate in domestic or family violence, which involves violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour carried out by a partner, carer or family member to control, dominate or instil fear. This includes physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial or other types of abuse,
    • You will not participate in or allow nude swimming or other such activities.
    • You will not participate in or allow initiations and secret ceremonies.
  11. With regard to adults, children and young people, either the Presbytery or Session may make temporary variations in respect to the details of the following. These temporary variations will be formally recorded by the Presbytery or Session and will be made on a restricted basis for individuals in specific circumstances for a specific period of time. Where no temporary variation is formally recorded, the following will apply without change:
    • You will take care to ensure an appropriate balance of transparency and confidentiality so that the private concerns of others are not disclosed or revealed improperly. In ordinary circumstances, when you are providing pastoral care to, or working with members of the opposite sex, you will strive to do so in an environment that allows visual surveillance and, where reasonable, have other people within hearing distance.
    • You will not allow a child to sleep in close proximity to an adult, other than a parent or guardian, unless there is a significant separation, and privacy of all parties is respected.
    • You will not allow an adult to share accommodation with one child or young person only unless they are a parent or guardian of that child or young person.
    • You will not drive a child or young person unaccompanied.

Where specified provisions cannot be followed in an emergency, the circumstances of the emergency and the actions taken should be reported to and approved by the supervising body. Where the actions taken are not approved they will be considered to be a breach of the Code of Conduct.

Any breaches of this Code of Conduct for any reason will be reported to the appropriate supervising body as soon as possible. The supervising body will then report the matter to the CPU.

Disclaimer

Breaking the Silence deals specifically with the issue of abuse of children, young people and other vulnerable people, and the abuse of authority by those in a position of authority within the church. It does not deal with any other form of grievance or personal injury claim.

Breaking the Silence is provided on the terms and understanding that the writer and the church is not responsible for the results of any action taken on the basis of information in this publication, nor for any error in, or omission from, this publication. The author, the publisher, its employees or any other persons involved in the preparation of Breaking the Silence expressly disclaim all and any liability and responsibility to any person, in respect of anything, and of the consequences of anything, done or omitted to be done, by any such person in reliance, whether wholly or partially, upon the whole or any part of this publication. Where a specific issue / incident arises, expert professional advice should always be sought.

The information and advice is made available in good faith, reflects current knowledge, literature, legislation, regulations and standards and is derived from sources believed to be accurate at the time of publication. Breaking the Silence should be read in conjunction with relevant legislation and is not a substitute for it. The content will require updating in line with amendments or additions, which may supersede those cited, later in time, after the publication of this document.

Confidentiality

You have the absolute right to confidentiality in your contacts with the CPU, except in the following circumstances, in which the CPU is mandated to break confidentiality and report to the relevant authorities:

  1. If you indicate that you intend to harm either yourself or another person
  2. If you disclose that a child or vulnerable adult is at risk of harm
  3. If the CPU or your notes are subpoenaed for evidence in court
  4. If you disclose that you have committed a serious crime that has not been reported.

Other than the scenarios above, the CPU may ask your permission to share information with other parties in addressing an issue or situation.