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.
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practices Introduction
As you can imagine and have probably experienced for yourself, child sexual abuse is a difficult subject for most adults to talk about, let alone the children who are its victims. Unfortunately it is our silence that enables child molesters.
In her book, The Socially Skilled Child Molester, Dr. Carla van Dam states that "Child molesters [also] gravitate to those people who are most likely to be too polite to fend them off, too shy and anxious to tell them to leave, too dependent to be assertive, and too impressed by rank, power, status or money to do the right thing. Child molesters deliberately associate with adults who cannot address these issues. They seek out adults who worry about hurting people's feelings. They charm adults who do not believe it could happen."(3)
Our Silence Enables Child Molesters
Our kids are counting on us to overcome these natural barriers and this program is designed to give you the knowledge, confidence and courage to break the silence that puts our kids at risk and to teach others to do the same. In doing so, you'll:
- Empower adults to hold each other mutually accountable;
- Teach our kids "the language of abuse" and give them permission to tell;
- And most importantly, you'll put offenders on notice that we're watching and our kids are off limits!
In addition to personally empowering you and your colleagues to lead your community, this program clearly defines boundaries that when followed will significantly reduce the risk of children being sexually abused while in your care. Child molesters use a technique called "grooming" to slowly and systematically build trust with kids and adults alike, typically resulting in being granted private access to children which is when 80% of abuse happens.(4) The child sexual abuse prevention best practices boundaries have been designed specifically to interrupt these grooming behaviors. When adopted as a formal organizational policy, these boundaries empower youth leaders, pastors, parents, volunteers, and children to be objective about their enforcement of the policy, without being swayed by any individual based on trust, respect, power, status, or money. The policy applies equally to all.
While every segment of the community has influence over both child sexual abuse prevention and victim support, typically each segment has one or the other as their primary role. Faith organizations are unique in that most of them have a child and/or youth serving component in their charter which makes prevention a primary role but followers naturally turn to their faith leaders in times of crisis, making support for victims and their families an equally important role for faith organizations. The child sexual abuse best practices program for Churches and Faith Organizations reflects this dual role and therefore incorporates the child sexual abuse best practices for youth-serving organizations into this program in its entirety.
Now let's take a look at each best practice individually by clicking the next link at the bottom of the page.