Whether you are working with a group of seven or 170 teens, their parents have placed their trust in you, making youth group security an essential issue.
Ideas for Ensuring Youth Group Security
You can ensure the security of your group with a bit of forethought and planning.
Security starts when youth group members arrive and doesn't end until everyone has safely left the premises. Make sure the parking lot and entranceways are well-lit. Set up car pools or groups of people walking home to the same neighborhood to further ensure that everyone arrives home safely.
Youth groups can take a cue from schools in protecting the young people in their care. Provide photo identification badges to all workers and volunteers. Require all visitors to report to a main office, reception desk, or other central location. This will make it easier to spot unauthorized guests. Along with the badges, you may want to create a single point of entry to further monitor traffic.
Depending on their needs, some groups may go so far as to hire a security guard. Security guards aren't just for high-crime locations. They can provide an authoritative presence in any group and extra help if an incident occurs. However, sometimes a friendly face at the front entrance is all you need. It provides attendees with a warm welcome while also letting potential troublemakers know they've been noticed.
Make sure the building doesn't provide hiding places for teens to sneak off to. Although some teens have innocent intentions and just want to get away from the larger group, these spaces may be used as the location for a fight or by someone looking to spend some time alone with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Lock unused classrooms and keep the lights on in all hallways.
Obey all fire codes. Make sure there is a working sprinkler system and an appropriate number of fire extinguishers. In addition, make sure that all youth group leaders are aware of their location and comfortable with their use. If you light candles, such as during a prayer or reflection time, don't leave them unattended. Don't block exits and don't exceed the recommended occupancy of a room, even if it means changing your plans or finding a new venue for a large event.
In case of an emergency, access to phones is essential. Although most people have a cell phone handy, it is still a good idea to have a phone in as many meeting and activity rooms as possible. This will make sure you get the help you need when you need it.
- Keep the group occupied. Boredom often leads to mischief. If they are presented with a constant schedule of youth group activities, teens won't have a chance to get in trouble.
- Provide plenty of adult supervision. In addition to increasing youth group security, this will provide additional role models and listening ears for teens.
- Be prepared for medical emergencies. A well-stocked first aid kit is your first line of defense. Encourage or require workers to become trained in CPR and basic first aid.
- Have a plan in place for weather-related emergencies, such as tornado warnings. Post this information in each room, and consider having a drill, such as those planned by schools, to inform youth group members of the procedures.
Whether they are religious in nature or community-based, such as the Boys and Girls Club, youth groups provide teens with a structured place in which to interact with their peers. By keeping security concerns in mind, adults can provide a safe experience that's guaranteed to provide lasting memories for all the right reasons.