Our Website Policy
1. Website Administrator
The Kirk Session will designate a Primary Site Administrator who will have overall responsibility for:
Adding and removing material from the website.
Providing a safe online environment.
Connecting and informing congregational members and site visitors.
Protecting the privacy of congregational members and site visitors.
Promoting the current mission of the congregation in a creative and attractive manner.
Other members may be authorised, as administrators, to add or remove material. These administrators must be approved by the Kirk Session. The website will be under frequent review by the Kirk Session whose decision over the inclusion of content will be final.
2. Website Content
The administrator(s) will ensure that:
All web content supports the congregation’s mission and fellowship.
Any material which the Kirk Session and/or its representatives consider contrary to Church doctrine or congregational ethos shall be removed immediately.
No content which is posted may subject the congregation to claims of copyright breaches, or to claims for libel or slander.
A copy of this policy and privacy statement shall be made available for review by site visitors from every web page via hyperlink at the bottom of each page.
3. External Links
The administrator(s) will ensure that:
External links which are considered helpful to site visitors are included.
All external links shall contain the following disclaimer:
“First Presbyterian Church Ballymoney is not responsible for the content of external websites nor does it necessarily endorse their sponsoring organisations.”
The congregation assumes no responsibility for material on websites linked to the congregational website.
External links will open a new browser window to indicate that the visitor is exiting the congregational website.
Links to sites which contain material unsuitable for children will not be included.
The content of every external linked site shall be reviewed by the Primary Site Administrator for suitability prior to inclusion.
4. Consent Issues
All site material must have the consent of those represented or whose material is used.
The administrator(s) will ensure:
Express permission will be sought before any e-mail address or phone number, other than that of congregational staff or church office, is included on the website.
An email alias e.g. "user"@firstballymoney.co.uk rather than a personal email address is used where appropriate.
No personal information of congregational members, young people and children or site visitors will be shared with third parties. This includes names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses.
E-mail links to individuals should be minimized. Online forms are preferred for interactive communications from the site.
The congregation will not send unsolicited email (spam).
All material included must comply with copyright requirements.
Copyrighted works can include, but are not limited to, news stories, software, novels, screenplays, graphics, pictures, music, video clips and email, and should not be used without permission.
C. Use of Photographic Material
The use of photographs of individuals appearing on any congregational webpage should be minimal. Express permission from each congregational member in a picture to be used must be obtained.
Parental permission must be obtained, as given on Parental Consent Forms, before using any pictures of a child/group of children on a webpage.
Children’s names will not be captioned on photographs of children online.
No other identifying details (place, address) should appear on any photographs of a child or children on a webpage.
Photographs of individual children which can be easily copied onto other sites should be avoided. It is preferable to use a group photograph.
Stock photography of children not connected with the congregation may be used, as long as material is not protected by copyright
No one other than designated site administrator(s) shall have access to passwords for posting website material. Passwords should be regularly changed.
Appropriate firewall software and anti-virus software should be installed and regularly updated to ensure the protection of restricted data.
If necessary, a ‘closed’ page or password protected area is provided to help to limit who can view certain webpages.
Leaders are aware that by advertising dates and times of events online, there is the possibility that other people, who would not have otherwise heard of an event, may turn up without warning.
All forums/message boards/chat rooms must be moderated and monitored by the leader-in-charge of the organisation.
Users of forums/message boards/chat rooms must register details before being allowed access via their username and password.
It is made very clear to young people that the website should not be used to make arrangements to meet up with each other casually, e.g. going out for coffee. They need to be reminded that they don’t know who is reading their conversation.
Reasonable steps will be taken to provide access to website services for people with disabilities who may use specially designed software or hardware to access content on the internet. Web content should follow World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines: www.w3.org/wai
The congregation shall ensure indemnity for all internet use.
All software used for developing and maintaining the website will be legally registered (if necessary) with appropriate fees paid.
Website policy adopted by Kirk Session in June 2018 and reviewed at the end of September 2018. The policy will be reviewed in September 2019.
If you have any questions, queries or concerns about our website, please get in touch with our website administrator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Internet and Communication Policy
Children, Young People and the Internet
Those who care for children people need to be aware of the opportunities for abuse through the misuse of the Internet, text messaging, video and other media. While good use of such media can be beneficial we must be vigilant and alert to the possibilities of misuse and the consequent harm that can result to young people.
1. Using Computers
If a computer is being used by children or young people within any of our youth and children’s organisations, guidelines must be drawn up by that organisation to ensure it is used for its correct purpose and that it is looked after properly (see Taking Care Two for advice). The leaders should agree on a computer contract which must be given to and signed by all children, parents and leaders. This must be agreed by Kirk Session.
2. Access to the Internet
If internet access is provided by First Ballymoney Presbyterian Church, computers and other equipment belonging to organisations will be placed in an open position allowing group leaders to monitor internet activity with constant supervision.
The following guidelines should apply:
i. No one will be allowed to view offensive or abusive material.
ii. All internet access for children and young people on church owned hardware shall be covered by appropriate parental controls and by child-content monitoring/firewall software. Appropriate anti-virus software shall be installed and frequently updated.
iii. The inappropriate use of internet resources will result in the immediate withdrawal of access to the Internet.
iv. All web material used by leaders should be previously checked to ensure that it is appropriate for the age group taking part.
v. No material shall be downloaded illegally.
vi. All software used for accessing internet services will be legally registered (if required) with the appropriate fees paid.
Leaders should be aware of the prevalence of online grooming and cyber bullying. Bullying through the use of social media can be more intense and more difficult to escape than bullying children experience within the playground or school. Child Exploitation Online Protection (CEOP) works to educate parents, leaders, young people and children about safety issues regarding the Internet. Leaders should keep up-to-date with the work of CEOP.
3. Communication with Young People via the Internet
If used well, methods of communication via the Internet can be effective tools in youth ministry.
However, leaders should not engage in personal communication with children or young people under the age of 18 via text messaging, email, blogs, or social media sites. They should not add or accept friend requests from young people under the age of 18 in personal accounts.
Social networking sites with a group facility (e.g. private Facebook pages) may be used. This allows online groups to meet in a virtual space through public forums. If using a group facility on a social networking site:
Access should only be by request or invitation.
One account should be created for the leader-in-charge to use or a small group to share.
A copy of these login details should be supplied to and stored by the designated person.
All messages, information and comments should be communicated via the ‘Wall’ and therefore seen by everyone in that group but no one else.
Content and membership must be closely monitored by the leader-in-charge.
If there is a need to communicate something directly to a specific individual’s inbox, a copy should be sent to the record email account.
Written parental permission must be sought if an organisation decides to set up a group account.
Leaders should be aware that the legal minimum age for social networking sites is 13 years old.
Leaders should not post photographs of young people from the organisation in which they are a leader on a social networking site or anywhere on the Internet, unless they have written parental consent.
Leaders should remember that everything posted on the Internet – comments, opinions and photos – can potentially be seen and copied by anyone else using the Internet. Social networking sites have privacy settings for this reason and should be used.
Comments made on the Internet should be considered the same as if they were made in a public place. If a child discloses something to a leader via a social networking site, a chat room or any other public domain publishing method, then the disclosure must be dealt with by following the normal referral process. If a leader is concerned about something that a young person communicates to him or her via the Internet, he or she should encourage the child to talk to a suitable adult about it or arrange to meet with the child (within the usual child protection parameters).
4. Communication with Young People via Mobile Phones
Leaders involved in children’s work i.e. Jigsaw and Youth Club should not have children’s mobile phone numbers.
Leaders involved in Bible Class and Youth Fellowship should only have young people’s mobile numbers if they are required to phone or text young people. Leaders must take care to protect themselves and the young people in their care.
Kirk Session should be informed which leaders need to contact young people at the beginning of each academic year.
If a leader is contacting young people via mobile phone:
Parental permission must be sought.
Copies of texts must be sent to parents as a method of accountability.
Group rather than individual texting should be used where possible.
The young person’s mobile phone number should only be used for the purposes it has been given i.e. the leader should not share this information with other church members.
Texts should be used for the purposes of reminding young people about events which are forthcoming.
Texts can also be used as a means to encourage young people if it is appropriate e.g. ‘hope exam goes o.k.’
Communication should be ended if it turns into a conversation. A leader can suggest discussing the subject further at the next event or, if they are concerned about the young person, arrange to meet up to talk further (within the usual child protection parameters).
It is recommended by the Taking Care Office that an employed youth worker has a separate phone for work purposes rather than using their personal phone for contacting young people.
This policy will be reviewed by Kirk Session each September.
Child Protection Policy
This policy is aimed at creating an environment where children and young people may enjoy social contact, personal and spiritual development and where they and the leaders and helpers working with them will be kept safe. Adults selected to work within Children and Youth Ministries should be secure in the knowledge that they have the full support of the Kirk Session.
The Kirk Session of First Presbyterian Church Ballymoney has adopted the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s child protection guidelines, Taking Care, approved by the General Assembly and revised in 2011. All organisations must adhere to these guidelines as agreed by the General Assembly in 2008. The Kirk Session will review the policy every year and keep Taking Care on the agenda of the Kirk Session meetings.
The Kirk Session believes that the recruitment and appointment process outlined in the Taking Care guidelines greatly assist the assessment of a person’s suitability to work with children and young people. As a result of implementing such procedures, leaders and helpers within this congregation will be more assured of their position and of the confidence placed in them by the Kirk Session.
The following procedures must be followed for the appointment of leaders who are 18 years and over:
1) All leaders will be required to complete an application form for leaders.
2) The application form includes the vetting process according to legislation and good practice.
3) The Kirk Session will appoint up to two interviewers to meet informally with the applicant. At the interview the Child Protection Policy will be provided and explained, ‘We Care 4 U Too!’ will also be provided.
4) Applicants will be required to provide two references by persons who are not relatives.
5) A letter of approval will be sent to the Designated Person from the Taking Care Office.
Leaders and helpers who work with children and young people should attend Taking Care training every 3 years (as church policy or legislation demands). Even those who have a good knowledge of child protection issues in another field should attend as Taking Care Training is the only training available that is specifically dealing with church activities within a church environment.
3. Reporting of Concerns
The leaders in each of our organisations will be fully conversant with the reporting procedure where there is a concern about the welfare of a child, as outlined in the Taking Care guidelines. Leaders must not hesitate to report a concern about a child if they are at any time worried about their welfare.
4. The Designated Person
The Kirk Session has appointed the following Designated Person: - Stephanie Fulton
The Designated Person will give advice and support to organisations and to the Kirk Session on matters concerning the welfare of children and young people. The Kirk Session will keep organisational leaders updated with the name of the Designated Person. Any matter brought to the attention of the Designated Person will be treated in strict confidence. Information will be divulged only where there is a legitimate need to know.
5. Parental Consent Forms
Organisational leaders must ensure that they have home contact numbers, parental consent and medical information regarding the children in the organisations which they are working with. A master copy of these forms should be kept in a locked filing cabinet in the resource room. Special consent forms will be issued for any ‘off the premises’ activity and residential programmes.
6. Good Standards of Practice
Each organisation will be expected to comply with good standards of practice as outlined in the Taking Care guidelines. This includes: physical contact, recommended ratios, transport, residential programmes and outings, church sleepovers, photographs, working with children who have special needs and working with vulnerable adults.
7. Working Together
It is important that all leaders know the boundaries and rules of an organisation and that these are explained to children and parents. A code of conduct for children and young people will be drawn up at the commencement of the year’s activities in each organisation. A code of conduct will help to create a safe, secure environment and an atmosphere where children will feel that they can relate to the leaders and helpers. All leaders must abide by the discipline guidelines as set out in Taking Care.
Leaders should refer to both the Internet and Communication and Website Policies adopted by the Kirk Session for guidelines in this area.
9. Health and Safety
The Kirk Session expects organisations to adhere to the guidance on health and safety matters outlined in the Taking Care guidelines. A Risk Assessment form should be completed for each organisation as well as for any outings or occasional events. Leaders will be informed of fire and first aid procedures.
10. Implementation and Review
The Kirk Session is responsible for overseeing the implementation of this policy and will review it every September.