(This isn’t a feel-good post. but this is a really important issue, so I hope you’ll read and then check out the resources mentioned below.)
We’ve been checking out different churches since arriving in Rhode Island, and I tell you, finding a church is hard. You’d think, based off some websites, churches expect you to choose them based off their “cutting edge worship,” when the actual reasons we would pick a church can’t be determined from one Sunday morning. I feel like sending out a survey to any potential pastors and seeing what they say to different philosophical issues.
Anyway, one thing I’d like to see at a church is a good child protection policy. I’ve been lately reading about the frequency of child sexual abuse happening in American churches and on the mission field, and it is horrifying. One out of four women and one out of six men are abused as children. That is a huge percentage of the population! I’ve never heard this topic mentioned in church, but it seems like a hippo in the room (hippos being more dangerous than elephants) given the potential numbers of survivors in the congregation. Also, before they are caught, child sexual abusers average 50-150 victims. This was both shocking and sickening to me. Background checks on nursery workers is not sufficient preventative action for this horrible sin against children.
I came across this group, GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), who helps churches develop policies for effectively preventing and responding to child sexual abuse. (Because, when it does happen, churches and organizations often don’t handle it rightly–check out the news). It is not happy stuff, but if you are either a parent or a church-goer, I exhort you to go to their website, and check out some of their resources. (We watched the videos “Offenders in the church: who are they and how do they operate” and “Minimizing the opportunities: effective child prevention policies.”) If only more people are aware of suspicious behavior, that can help. Also, go to your church, and talk to them about doing something about this important issue.
Anyway, I hope you guys take a look and find these helpful in protecting your children and leading your church to better serve Christ.
Have you thought about this issue before?
P.S. The stats above were from the first video I mentioned, but here are some other statistics from different studies showing crazy numbers of victims.