What is your chuch doing to guard against sex abuse?

It’s hard to think of a topic less pleasant than sex abuse, and when that topic is linked to the Christian church, it’s even more upsetting. But unless you’ve managed to completely avoid reading the news recently, you’ve read about the abuse scandals currently plaguing the Roman Catholic Church.

I’m a Protestant, and it’s easy to imagine, while reading these reports, that this is a “Catholic problem.” But human nature being what it is, it’s almost certainly an issue in Protestant churches as well. A report from a few years ago claims that Protestant churches aren’t immune to this danger:

The three companies that insure the majority of Protestant churches in America say they typically receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by clergy, church staff, volunteers or congregation members.

The figures released to The Associated Press offer a glimpse into what has long been an extremely difficult phenomenon to pin down—the frequency of sex abuse in Protestant congregations.

Religious groups and victims’ supporters have been keenly interested in the figure ever since the Roman Catholic sex abuse crisis hit five years ago. The church has revealed that there have been 13,000 credible accusations against Catholic clerics since 1950.

Protestant numbers have been harder to come by and are sketchier because the denominations are less centralized than the Catholic church; indeed, many congregations are independent, which makes reporting even more difficult.

In other words, no matter what denomination or branch of Christianity you belong to, your church has to be on guard against abuse perpetrated within its community. The Your Church Blog provides a brief list of things your church needs to have thought through before abuse takes place, as well as guidelines for responding in the horrible event that abuse happens.

Several years ago, not long after the church-abuse scandals of the early 2000s, I noticed a very positive shift in my own church’s attitudes toward the possibility of abuse. Background checks were instituted for church workers and volunteers (even ones who had been volunteering for some time); care was taken to make sure that multiple adults of both genders were present with children in the nursery or other children’s activities; and so forth. I’m not privy to the results of those policies, but I do know that they communicate a clear message that the church takes the issue seriously and would listen if I had a concern along those lines.

What about your church? Have you had to confront abuse in your community? What steps have you taken to ensure that it doesn’t happen, and that if it does, you respond quickly and wisely?

One Response to “What is your chuch doing to guard against sex abuse?”

  • Frank says:

    John Jay School of Criminology in NYC studied the issue and concluded that public school teachers are more likely to sexually abuse children than were Catholic priests. Second were protestant ministers. Few of us hear of this study because the press is pro abortion and pro homosexual marriage, and the pro life body on the world is the Catholic Church. Also, where is there a battle against homosexual marriage where the Catholic Church does not play a leading role.

    It is a tragedy when ever abuse takes place whether at the hands of a teacher, priest, or minister. This should be a united battle, not a divided one.