This is not a fun topic to address. The statistics surrounding sexual abuse are astounding. It is very possible that you yourself have been a victim of sexual abuse scandals coming out of the SBC, or IFBC, or the Catholic Church and many other denominations.
Statistically, our churches are running rampant with people who have experienced sexual abuse. If the statistics are correct that 1/6 men and 1/4 women have been sexually abused as children, then if you attend a church of 200 people (100 men and 100 women), statistically 41 of them will have been sexually abused as children. That is 20.5%! That is alarming, and it is time that the church takes the proper steps to protect the children in our churches. So, what do we do about it?
We need to humble ourselves before the Lord and be a people that seek the Lord’s help in our churches. We need to recognize that apart from Christ, we are capable of committing such a heinous sin. Also, we need to recognize that we need Christ’s help to change our hearts, not just our behavior.
Talk About It
Preach the gospel and address issues of sexual abuse. Our churches are full of people who are hurting because of this pervasive sin, and we need to address it as the church body.
Develop a Child/Youth Protection Policy
Sadly, many churches attitude toward a formal written child protection policy sounds like this, “Well, we all know each other, so I’m not worried about something happening here.” Sadly, the statistics work against you. The large majority of sex offenders are friends, family or acquaintances with their victims. That is why this is so important. Here are some things that you should consider including in your policy.
- Written procedure requiring background checks
- Require six month waiting period for new volunteers
- Written guidelines for counseling, including open-door policy, or meeting in a public space. Never alone in someone’s home
- Open doors or door windows into every room where children meet
- Maintain proper student/teacher ratios. Always aim for 2 unrelated adults present at all times