The Washington (AP) reported on 10-17-12 three female plaintiffs claim in a lawsuit that Sovereign Grace Ministries, covered up allegations of sexual abuse against children. The lawsuit involving Sovereign Grace alleges that: 1) The Church failed to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of children under its care, such as requiring that pastors be licensed or ordained.2) The Church failed to alert law enforcement authorities, and failed to take any steps whatsoever to protect the children from sexual predation
You can read the lawsuit in its entirety at this link. http://www.brentdetwiler.com/brentdetwilercom/2012/10/18/copy-of-lawsuit-brought-against-sovereign-grace-ministries-e.html.
How can churches prevent sexual abuse in their churches? What is the common theme in churches where the abuse has taken place? We have heard many similar stories of cover up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, this situation occurs in churches of all sizes and all denominations. The common thread between churches where sexual abuse was reported to the church and cover up occurred is simple to see. They fail to protect the child, failed to warn parents of the threat thus allowing more children to be victimized and did not make a report to the police and state agency monitoring these situations. Clergy are mandated reporters which mean that the law requires them to report suspected child/sexual abuse. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandated_reporter
How can churches prevent sexual abuse in their church? We are living in a time when churches must take steps to prevent sexual abuse from taking place in the church. There are many resources online to help provide guidance in this matter. The same guidelines that apply to day care homes, groups, camp settings and centers should also apply to children church programs and churches in general.
The consensus of reviewed material recommend that churches have a written policy in place. The recommendations for anyone working with children in any setting as a volunteer or employee are as follows: 1) completed application 2) check references 3) criminal background check that includes fingerprinting 4) check with your state for procedures on obtaining CANTS (CHILD ABUSE NEGLECT TRACKING) report. 5) Establish minimum time frame for a member to be in church before working directly with children (suggested six months). 6) Establish 2 adult rule that one adult is never alone with a child. Above all, there should be a zero tolerance for sexual abuse. Period.
If a report is made known of a possible sexual abuse you must take action. The church has one responsibility and that is to ensure the safety of the child. The church has a responsibility to expose sin – not to cover it up. Sexual abuse is a criminal offence and the church has only one action to take. Report it to the police and the agency that deals with child/sexual abuse. Let them do their job. They have been trained to determine if such reports are credible. They have been trained how to interview children in a setting and manner that at least traumatic. In Illinois they have multidisciplinary teams (MDT’s) comprising professionals from law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, medicine, counseling, and related fields. The burden of determining if abuse took place is not yours. It is that of the professionals who have training and experience to deal with this.
In the times that we are living in parents should be watchful when an adult seems overly attentive to your child no matter what position that person holds.i.e. Pastor, Sunday school teacher, volunteer. Does your child demeanor change in the presence of this person? Have you noticed recent changes in your child’s personality since this person entered their lives? Does this person gives your child unexpected gifts for no reasons? Encourage your child to talk openly to you about anything without fear of being punish. Listen to what your child say as and watch their body language. Discuss good touch/bad touch with your child from time to time so that communication is open on this subject. Clearly communicate with your child that secrets are not allowed in your family. It is very important that parents stress to their children the dangers of secrets. Explains to them that anyone tells them "this is our secret" that they must tell you. Reassure them that they will not be punished for telling the "secret". It is important for you to explain in order for parents to keep their children safe there must never be secrets not even if the person threaten harm to the child or to the parents. Perpetrators will often use fear to intimidate children. They will also use bribery i.e. gifts, money etc. I encourage you to periodically attend the children church program with your child.
Resources: http://childrensministry.com/articles/safety-first http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/documents/forming_multidisciplinary_team.pdf
SPEAK THE ANSWER NOT THE PROBLEM. THE ANSWER IS IN THE WORD OF GOD. HEAVENLY FATHER, we come in the name of your son Jesus thanking you and asking you for your blood protection over our children. Psalm 107:6 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.We release the word of healing to each child. We pray for every victim of child abuse/sexual abuse that you will take away their pain, hurt and shame. We pray that you help us to help them understand that they are not responsible for what happen to them. Wipe away their tears and quiet their fears. We bind up every spirit that would try to attach to them as a result of the abuse. We loose healing of the body, soul, mind, spirit and emotional wound. Let them be free through your mercy of anger and bitterness. Wrap them in your arms and keep them safe. We pray now that every child that is being abused and has not told will find the courage to tell and they will be believed. We pray that you open the eyes of their parents to see their hurt and pain. We pray that every perpetrator will be exposed and brought to justice. Let the spirit of conviction and repentance fall upon them causing them to turn from their evil ways. We pray that there will be hiding place for them and no rest in their spirit. Father you are the only one that can take what the enemy meant for evil and somehow bring good out of it. For this we give you the glory due to your name.