Churches and Faith Organizations

Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practices Introduction

TAALK has created this particular prevention best practices program from the perspective of the Christian Church. This is not to diminish the importance of the role that all faith organizations play in the resolution of the child sexual abuse pandemic but instead reflects the knowledge and personal affiliation of the writer. TAALK does not have the expertise nor do we currently have the funding to research the details of how to appropriately address the individual differences between world religions and how they serve the youth in their community. We know that the aspects related to prevention of abuse and supporting victims, families, and offenders apply to all faiths. We also trust that the aspects related to spiritual healing and the power of intercessory prayer will provide great value and insight across faiths as well. Thus we encourage all faith leaders to participate fully in the program taking the intent of each section and modifying the wording and implementation as necessary to reflect your specific beliefs. We are all in this together and our children are counting on us to find a way to be part of the solution. 
 

Child sexual abuse is predictable and preventable when we surround children with knowledgeable and outspoken adults and we all play a part in the solution. 
Predict: is to declare or indicate in advance; especially to foretell on the basis of observation, experience, or scientific reason.(1)


There are over 39 million survivors of child sexual abuse in America.(2)

From them experts have documented time after time, behavior patterns that appear BEFORE abuse occurs. So, with the right training, we can recognize when children are in danger and put best practices in place to directly reduce the risk of abuse in our homes, neighborhoods and youth-serving organizations. Faith organizations play a crucial role in educating their local community members.

Read more: Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practices Introduction

Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #1 - Determine Your Starting Point

Personal Starting Point
Each of us has a set of past experiences that impact how we feel about the topic of child sexual abuse. Some people know someone who was abused or they may have been abused themselves. Others may struggle with an attraction to children or the thought of sexualizing a child simply destroys their sense of a safe world. These are experiences and feelings that could create a lot of discomfort.

Read more: Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #1 - Determine Your Starting Point

Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #3 - Set, Document and Enforce Boundaries

Written boundaries are at the heart of protecting children. Without them, every day is filled with a myriad of subjective choices that are far too often hindered by our emotions, opinions, relationships, and quest for personal gain (acceptance, security, promotion, raise, etc.). When boundaries are established and documented in writing, they provide a mechanism for objective decision making that applies to everyone who comes in contact with children in your care. No exceptions!

Read more: Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #3 - Set, Document and Enforce...

Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #5 - Create an Accountability Team

Child sexual abuse is predictable and preventable when we surround children with knowledgeable and outspoken adults. Whether you have ever stopped to acknowledge it or not, your children are surrounded by adults...but are they knowledgeable and outspoken about child sexual abuse on behalf of your children?

Read more: Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #5 - Create an Accountability Team

Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #6 - Educate and Empower Children

Now that you've provided mandatory training for your staff and volunteers and invited your parents to join your accountability team, it's time to empower the children in your care. Educating and empowering children to experience a life free from sexual abuse is a multi-step process that unfolds as they mature and includes the five key components listed below. Depending on the age ranges you serve, you may or may not have the opportunity to engage children in all five components but at a minimum, every organization should be empowering children with the boundaries you have established.

Read more: Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #6 - Educate and Empower Children

Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #7 - Pre-Establish Your Response and Take Bold Action

Adopt Standards for Responding to Observed, Disclosed or Suspected Abuse
Child sexual abuse is a crime and cases should never be handled "in-house" or "within the family." Unfortunately through many high profile cases, we've seen the devastating impact of organizations attempting to resolve the issue internally. Over the years we have also learned that countless children were faced with a secondary betrayal when they disclosed and their parents decided to keep it within the family. In both of these scenarios, victims are not validated and provided an opportunity to heal; and child molesters are not held accountable for their actions and in many cases they continued to have access to children resulting in additional victims.

Read more: Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #7 - Pre-Establish Your Response...

Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #8 - Provide Support and Resource Referrals

20% of the population in America has been sexually abused.(8) That's more people than the Center for Disease Control estimates will get the flu each year.(9) So needless to say, as you implement the Child Sexual Abuse Best Practices program, you will be talking with children, teens and adults who have personally experienced sexual abuse as well as parents who know or suspect their child has been abused. It's also inevitable that at some point you will be speaking with someone who is attracted to children who may or may not have crossed the line and abused a child.

Read more: Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #8 - Provide Support and Resource...

Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practices Summary

High profile cases are bringing child sexual abuse to the forefront in a way we have never seen in the past. It is clearly a pandemic that knows no boundaries including gender, race, religion, geography or socio-economic status.

20% of our children will be sexually abused by the age of 18.(8) Parents and leaders of Youth Serving Organizations are who grant access to children and they are responsible for being proactive in their efforts to protect children. You are responsible for teaching them how. Our kids are counting on us!

At TAALK, we understand the grooming behaviors that happen BEFORE abuse occurs and have developed this program specifically to combat those behaviors. Although there are no guarantees, this program will take you and the adults and the children in your community well beyond awareness and empower all of you with an extensive list of actions that will have a direct impact on the safety of children.