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to be wary of woman who recently joint our church & is 'homing in' on youth members?

(52 Posts)
Bumblequeen Sun 09-Jan-11 08:43:03

Hi guys,

My friend and I have ran youth ministry for several years. New church member has shown interest (very overkeen) in working with youth and has experience in this area (proven). This woman is friendly and very enthusiastic but but there is something I cannot put my finger on. At every opportunity she rallies round youth and pushes to get to know them wanting to know all about their lives, swapping numbers and Facebook details.

I feel she has too much influence over them. They are teenagers so able to make up their own minds on who they give time to. However I am aware teenagers can be naive and are happy to give their time to someone who hangs onto their every word and appears to care.

My friend has suggested she works alongside us but I am uncomfortable with this as I feel this woman has her own agenda.

Unsure how to deal with this as I have already been accused of feeling threatened by her in that the youth have warmed to her in a short space of time.

Bumblequeen Sun 09-Jan-11 08:44:55

Oops! Title should read joined and NOT joint!

justaboutmaintainingorder Sun 09-Jan-11 08:47:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

theevildead2 Sun 09-Jan-11 08:52:16

I think making her work beside you is the best idea. You can watch what happens, personally I don't think it is appropriate for adults who aren't related to be friends with young people on FB etc. DO you have a policy on that at the church? Maybe explain it isn't totally on. She may just be keen.

Shakirasma Sun 09-Jan-11 08:53:22

I think you may well be worried that this woman is trying to take over. If you have run the youth ministry for years then it's understandable that you feel railroaded, but she may bring a new freshness to the group if you can manage to keep her on a tight rein.

I wonder what church sort of church she has come from, because some are more involved than others. Some are
Ike a community in their own right where everyone knows each others business and act like a big family.this could be why she's so eager to get to know the kids, like a mother hen perhaps.

Besom Sun 09-Jan-11 08:54:43

Do you do any training with volunteers? Could you set up a training session and discuss appropriate boundaries within it? Do you have any policies written on this or on volunteering in general?

When I've volunteered in the past with young people it was made very clear to me what was/wasn't expected of me and I think it's fine for you to be clear with her about this. I personally don't think swapping numbers/facebook is appropriate.

Although you'd think if she's worked with young people before she should know these things already. Maybe she is just over enthusiastic and needs reminding.

Bumblequeen Sun 09-Jan-11 09:11:37

Justaboutmaintaining order- yes it makes sense to have her close where we can monitor her. I get the feeling she wants to develop friendships with them outside of the church- it would be hard to monitor if she meets or speaks to them in her own time.

Theevildead2- I too do not think this is appropriate. I think for now her contact with them should be under the 'church umbrella'.

Shakirasma- there is that too! I overheard one of her conversations with youth and she was projecting that they can speak to her/ open up about anything. This would then make them vulnerable and also give her the upper hand. TBH she gels with the youth but is quite 'in your face', opinionated and over confident with her level of knowledge (recently said she is extremley intelligent!) Would struggle to work with such a person.

Besom- yes, we will set up training sessions soon and make rules clear. The plan is to ask members to join our team but we will continue to run it. Not comfortable with her having a defined role, would rather she just comes along to sessions for now and see how it pans out.

justaboutmaintainingorder Sun 09-Jan-11 09:18:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

aimingforthesky Sun 09-Jan-11 09:23:28

I was advised to not have under 18s on FB as a church youth leader. I do not even have my own childs .

Some people do need to have a clear and open discussion of appropriate boundaries such as contact outside of organised events.This may be appropriate for any new helper. Also a talk with the young people themselves would be sensible as an annual reminder of what is appropriate contact and what to do if they have concerns.

LoveBeingADaddysGirl Sun 09-Jan-11 09:30:09

Aiming has picked up in a point I was going to make. Use this as inspiration for discussions/work on Internet safety, appriate relations etc.

I wod hope you had already checked out her previous positions.

BaroqueAroundTheClock Sun 09-Jan-11 09:32:01

"You don't trust her - well, that ensures she gets a CRB check -"

She should have done anyhow if she's working with the youth in the church.

BranchingOut Sun 09-Jan-11 09:41:22

I think you are right to be feeling cautious. I also think she is being somewhat foolhardy.

As a school senior leader this definitely raises my 'safeguarding' hackles...

If church youth leaders need the numbers of the young people you are working with then they should be collected and stored safely in a central place, following the guidelines of the Data Protection Act. Then the information should be accessed on a 'need to know' basis.

Teachers are cautioned against exchanging numbers or Facebook details with pupils. One of my friends is a youth worker and he only gives his clients an offical mobile number/facebook details, rather than his personal number or details.

Why not write a policy on 'e-safety' setting out these guidelines and communicate this to her?

Maybe harness her enthusiasm by getting her to set up a church Facebook page, which the appropriate adults have access to, but you should definitely prohibit personal 'friending' outside this.

MargaretGraceBondfield Sun 09-Jan-11 09:43:59

I would always trust your instincts.

MorticiaAddams Sun 09-Jan-11 10:23:40

I can't add anything more to the great advice given above but would definitely trust your instincts

FWIW when I was a teenager and going to youth clubs, people like that would have made us run a mile. Teenagers generally want adults to be in the background but available if needed and need their privacy.

Bumblequeen Sun 09-Jan-11 10:45:09

Thank you all for your advice, too many of you to list names individually!

I still intend to keep a close eye on her as I trust my instinct. Far too eager to get along with the youth. Many people work with young people but I am sure they do not throw themselves at every teenager they meet. Perhaps she is harmless and wants to be liked. The youth enjoy the attention they receive from this woman, it probably makes them feel special. Young people constantly need affirmation and encouragement.

Apparantley she 'helped' at her previous youth group and was not an actual leader. Leader asked her to join the team but she was unsure as church was far from home. Now she has joined our church (closer to home) and seems to be putting herself forward to help us.

Perhaps we should have a FB policy. The good thing is my friend and I all have their FB details so we can check their wall.

mutznutz Sun 09-Jan-11 11:01:52

When you say you have their FB details and you can check their wall, do you mean this woman's or the teenager's details?

SkyBluePearl Sun 09-Jan-11 11:28:55

is she CRB checked and have you followed up any references?

LisasCat Sun 09-Jan-11 11:39:20

You say you have their details, which is very different to being their friend on FB. If their schools or parents have taught them correctly they should have set their privacy settings to prevent anyone other than friends seeing their walls and other personal info.

The whole FB thing rings huge alarm bells to me. All school staff are told to refuse friend requests from children, to protect the adult as much as the child. If she's going to be working in an position of responsibility around young people she absolutely has to be told NO FB friendships, NO mobile number exchanges. If you have to scare her into accepting this, point out just how much cyber bullying is done by children against adults!

RevoltingPeasant Sun 09-Jan-11 11:43:35


I work with older teens (uni age) but tbh, this isn't ringing quite as many bells with me as it is with some. Quite a few postdocs where I work are on FB with their seminar tutees (so 18 yos). Personally, I don't do this, but I know many younger lecturers/ teaching fellows working with people in this age group who are on FB and who even give out mob numbers.

Do you mind my asking... How old is this woman compared to you? If you are 50 and she is 23, I wonder if this might be in part a generational thing.

Also, I think it is less alarming that she is 'throwing herself' (making friendly overtures?) to a large number of teens. I'd be much more concerned if she were going after one or two.

RevoltingPeasant Sun 09-Jan-11 11:44:53

Also, sorry, can't see exactly what ages we're talking about here. My post was based on the assumption that you meant about 16-18yos. If you are talking about 12yos, that's different.

Bumblequeen Sun 09-Jan-11 12:37:44

Mutznuts - I have the FB details of the youth members. Funny enough she has never given her contact details to friend and I yet she is so keen to,work with us. I have heard her personally asking youth for mobile number, these members are 17/18 though.

Skybluepearl- unsure if she has been crb checked. She will need to complete new form under our church umbrella.

LisasCat- yes clear boundaries need to be made. Occasionally we send messages to youth on FB but we run youth ministry, have accountability and know all their parents.

Revoltingpeasant- I am in early thirties, she is mid twenties so closer to them age. Can see why they relate to her more as she comes across as a friend rather than authoratitive figure. If she joins team, she will nerd to step back.

She is friendly to all youth but tends to focus on two in particular, mainly because they give her more 'air time'. Also they happen to be siblings.

Bumblequeen Sun 09-Jan-11 12:39:42

Youth are between 16 and 21.

ZillionChocolate Sun 09-Jan-11 12:44:22

I don't think a CRB check is much reassurance. At some point even the worst offenders hadn't been caught. I don't speculate that she's done something terrible, but I think references might be more helpful.

FabbyChic Sun 09-Jan-11 12:46:51

Surely as a worker she should not be taking any personal details? Seems she is nosy as opposed to anything else.

narkypuffin Sun 09-Jan-11 12:51:45

Have you talked to her previous youth group leader? Definitely CRB check, but I'd also try and find out more about her. She might be very enthusiastic and think your approach is to old fashioned. Or she might be trying to recruit for another religious group.

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