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As we progress in YWAM we often receive more and more responsibility for projects and finances but also for property, vehicles and people. We are often spiritually and pastorally responsible, but for leaders there is often a physical responsibility for people under our oversight.

Defining Negligence

People are always are risk from danger in life in general but when we are placed into a position of responsibility we take on a Duty of Care for others as well as ourselves. This is universally the case but in many countries this principle is enshrined in law and as our organisation is registered in those countries we fall under the protection of those laws. This is evident in Old Testament law as well (e.g. Exodus 21:28-36); just a few hundred words along from the Ten Commandments.

When we fail in our duty of care it is called negligence and it is serious. Here is how the Wikipedia defines it.

In law, negligence is a type of tort or delict that can be either criminal or civil in nature. Negligence means conduct that is culpable because it misses the legal standard protecting individuals against forseeably risky, harmful acts of other members of society. Negligent behaviour towards others gives them rights to be compensated for the harm to their body or property.

Whatever the legal definition it is contrary to our aims and objectives and values as Christians to allow people to be harmed by our inaction or ignorance.

Who Are We Responsible for

This depends on country to country and base to base and our position but basically the groups of people we take responsibility for are:

  • Staff
  • Students
  • Residential staff and Students
  • Volunteers
  • Visitors and the General Public (visiting, conferences, exhibitions, ...)
  • Especially young people

What Risks do People Face

  • Health - Not just when travelling, but from food poisoning, infection, poor sanitation, warmth and shelter
  • Safety - fire, falling, electrocution
  • Abuse - Young people especially are vulnerable to abuse from other adults and children
  • Vehicle risks - this is one place where YWAMers can be most at risk and in our specific role as a mission
  • Persecution
  • Danger in war zones

How do We Avoid Being Negligent

Negligence comes when we do nothing. When we remain ignorant. When we ignore obvious risks. When we procrastinate. The only solution is to become active

Some suggestions

  • Educate yourself. Demand (don't ask) from help from senior YWAMers. Read bases policies, some are available on this wiki for you to learn from.
  • Ensure those you are responsible are educated and made aware of the risks
  • Evaluate the risks - practising a Risk Assessment exercise will help
  • Make a plan of action
  • If needed form a team to advise, plan act and train. Give them time and finance to do their job properly.
  • Take corrective action
  • Train and brief all staff/students/volunteers as they start and yearly
  • Re-evaluate yearly and act
  • Book Re-evaluation and Training dates first in your diary as a matter of urgence and first importance. Always book a year ahead.