02 Jul Protecting the Children, Protecting the Church- guidance for leaders
Protecting the Children, Protecting the Church -guidance for leaders
Seldom has a week gone by without a church, nonprofit or school making national news because of the sexual misconduct of one of their employees or volunteers. People who wish to do harm to our children are constantly seeking places and opportunities to do so. Unfortunately, one of the paths-of-least-resistance for predators is in the Church. While most other child and youth-serving organizations realize not only the threat but the potential liability, many of our churches still lag far behind when it comes to protecting the children and youth as well as the ministry of the church. We would like to offer the following for protecting the children, protecting the church and guidance for leaders.
LEARN THE FACTS
- Experts estimate that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their eighteenth birthday.
- The average age for reported sexual abuse is nine years old.
- Twenty-two percent of victims are under the age of eight, and Only one in ten child victims report the abuse.
- Children who are sexually abused and do not “tell” are at a far greater risk than the general population for a host of psychological, emotional, social, and physical problems, often lasting into adulthood.
Effective abuse prevention programs include measures for screening potential volunteers and employees, training to identify problem behavior – ideally before abuse occurs – and systems to report and investigate allegations.
REDUCE THE RISK
- Here are some simple ideas your church can implement to help reduce the risk of sexual abuse in your congregation:
- Establish screening procedures for all volunteers.
- Run background checks on employees and volunteers.
- Institute a minimum six-month waiting period for volunteers.
- Provide periodic and continuous training for staff and volunteers.
- Maintain proper student/teacher ratios.
- Be sure all rooms where children and youth meet have windows in the doors.
- Eliminate one child-one adult interaction at all children/youth.
- Provide counseling only in rooms where the door has a window or the door can be kept open at all times.
- Never counsel or meet one-on-one at someone’s home.
REPORT THE ABUSE
Every abuse prevention program should have clear procedures for reporting suspected abuse and inappropriate behavior. Procedures must include mandatory reporting of all suspected incidents to law enforcement and the insurance carrier, as well as cooperating with law enforcement during their investigation.
We encourage you to gather a team and begin the process of addressing safety and security in your congregation. Use the safety and security of the young people as a starting point for an overall church protection ministry. Please reach out to us with any questions or concerns.
We would like to thank Southern Mutual Church Insurance for their guidance on this issue. Please visit the following link for a helpful video, information on background checks and a child/youth protection manual. Helpful Resources – Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company (smcins.com)
We would also like to thank GuideOne insurance for their instruction on Effective Abuse Prevention Programs. You my find more of their tips at this link. Three Keys for Effective Abuse Prevention Programs | GuideOne Insurance