Brothers and Sisters

Last week at the Circuit Safeguarders’ meeting we were discussing social media. How do we write and implement a good policy in the face of something which is so rapidly changing and which we only have to begin to understand and use ourselves for our young people to move on to something else; something cooler that we may not even have heard of?

In the 23rd Psalm, we hear:

For you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me.

A staff was used to guide the sheep away from dangerous cliff edges, to pull things back or down for the sheep to pass through or to nibble on. The rod however was a different affair, short and hefty, a much more vicious implement and used to fight off wolves and mountain lions. When it says in Proverbs “Spare the rod and spoil the child” it is I would suggest, talking about fending off the bad influences that hem young people in rather than corporal punishment.

We should take comfort from this notion when it comes to social media and all the other influences in the lives of our children and young people. What matters is that we remain vigilant, noticing when our young people’s behaviour changes without explanation, asking the good questions and following up with parents or leaders or safeguarding officers when things don’t quite sit well with us.

Mark and I always promised ourselves that we would not criticise our children’s choice of music. We would be broad-minded enough and wise enough to understand that each generation seeks and finds different ways of expressing itself. After all, we were born in the ‘60’s! What could possibly shock us? When they started to play their music however, my husband rebelled. “It’s terrible!” he said. “Yes,” I said, “But remember that this is what our parents said about our music and we always promised ourselves we wouldn’t do that to our children.” “Okay,” he agreed. “That’s all very well, but our music was good and theirs really is dreadful!”

Everything changes and nothing changes. As we continue to open up our churches and restart our activities, however new or different the dangers that are there for our children and young people, our job remains to beat off the wolves. We do it by managing our systems well, speaking our concerns to the right person and not ignoring potential danger just because we don’t fully understand it. In the end, good safeguarding is not a function of systems or rules, but a function of love: of caring, of noticing, of guiding the sheep back from the cliff edge with one hand and beating off the wolf that dares to attack our vulnerable, old or young, with the other. May we all have a safe summer.

God bless,


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