Saturday, November 22, 2008

Child safety redux - Who is in charge of looking out for dangers?

Thinking Out Loud.
I came across this fabulous set of PSA's. They are fun and simple. Click the video tests, in order, below. Make sure your children aren't in the room, b/c unexpected words may fly out of your mouth.

Now that you've got the hang of it, watch this one.

Page down ...

These are from

I was all proud of myself when I saw the bear in the second video. After the first video, I was looking for a bear, and I found it, then noticed it change. I was not a little dismissive of the video, given, ::eyes roll:: how easy it was.

Normally, I'm the queen of continuity errors. In the middle of a film, if someone's cigarette grows a quarter inch when the angle changes, or if the coffee handle turns left instead of right, I have a good grumble, out loud. If continuity errors continue, I often add a dramatic Tony Soprano arm wave to the grumble. And whomever is in the living room with me is resentful of my interruption of their experience. They'd not noticed continuity errors, and so it was I, not the film's inattention to detail, that interrupted their experience.

I'm embarrassed to say in this case, I stopped at the bear, even though I knew the gist of the exercise. I stopped looking. I stopped seeing. I watched, but didn't see.

So I find myself pondering this in relation to our congregations and the safety of children (and elders, and other vulnerable people.)
It's so easy to miss something you're not looking for.
Is this why DRE's and church staff are more aware of the number of people in the building who are not congregants, in fact, the number who live on the edge of sanity, sobriety, and the law? (This is likely most true of those of us in downtown congregations).

Is this why, given people's natural (and I would say appropriate) desire for congregations to be places of safety and sanctuary, that they resist efforts to increase security in ways that require them to be inconvenienced or, frankly, to have to notice that bad things happen even in church?

So is this part of an explanation of why we seem to be the only people who notice when matches are left out on the edges of things, or when a door is unlocked because it's inconvenient to have to continually walk to open it during committee meetings? Because we are looking?

And if members are not looking, even when there are policies that say they ought, then of course members are going to be uncomfortable or even resentful of us when we point out risks. It is not the fact of a unlocked door, or the matches, or the suddenly covered security-window-in-the-door that interrupted their sense of sanctuary. It was the staff, the DRE, or the identified safety wonk on the RE Committee who interrupted their sense of sanctuary.

I wonder if this is a partial explanation for why congregations sometimes seem to expect us to write and implement policies, to monitor and ensure safety, but push comes to shove, not really bother membership about their behavior when that behavior impacts safety.

And if it is, what's the solution?

As Harriet the Spy said so frequently, Hmm, think about this.