Responding to a Child's Disclosure of Abuse

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The attached is a resources that many churches have found helpful. Have someone, perhaps a safe church team leader, go over it as part of volunteer training for all staff and for volunteers who work with children and youth. The church is a much safer place when adults understand the impacts, prevalence and dynamics of abuse, and can respond appropriately when a child discloses their experience. Healing from abuse is possible, as long and as difficult as that road may be. It must always begin with disclosure, and acknowledging what has happened. May the church have ears to hear! 

In addition, it's helpful to know who in your church is gifted with the skills and expertise to listen well to a disclosure of abuse. When a child is involved in an abuse situation, the response is pretty clear: call appropriate authorities immediately. The best course of action is sometimes harder to discern with abusive behavior between adults.

A good question to ask in any discernment process is, who is more powerful in this situation, who has the power? That can help clarify what has happened. And then who is the person, or who are the people in your church, that are tasked with helping the church respond well? A good policy will have protocols in place for how to respond to a disclosure of abuse. Even with our best efforts, we can't expect to prevent all abuse, so it's good for all of us to know how to respond when it's disclosed.

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