Stories about the abuse of minors seem to be a regular topic on the evening news – with one disturbing allegation after another. Churches are no exception to these accusations and need to take steps to create a safe place for their children and youth. Church leaders needs to recognize the huge responsibility they have to keep their kids safe and take the necessary steps to guard against child predators.
We all think of church as a safe place, but the reality is abusers prey on the vulnerability of such environments. Abuse can happen anytime and anywhere.
According to a 2007 study of insurers of protestant churches, 260 cases of child abuse in the church are reported each year. The cost to churches for insuring for sexual misconduct is a necessary line item on the budget.
Media attention about churches that cover up child abuse has raised awareness of the serious nature of this problem and the lingering effect it has on these child victims as they reach adulthood.
When child abuse happens in a church, it has a significant impact on everyone involved and can tarnish the reputation of a church body. Imagine the impact a reported case could have on your church; the loss of trust among members, the damaged reputation in the community and the impact on the victim.
This does not even include the financial impact litigation could have if the church were found to be negligent in this area. Doing your due diligence to put systems and processes in place is one way to protect your ministry.
There are some things your church can do to protect the kids in your care.