In the U.S. April has been designated Child Abuse Prevention Month. In Canada, it happens in May. This is a good time for your church to update your abuse prevention policy and/or plan to talk about this important topic.
Dove’s Nest has resources, including those specifically designed for churches to participate in Child Abuse Prevention Month. Dove’s Nest is also a partner with CRC Safe Church Ministry in offering Circle of Grace, a program that equips children and youth to be active participants in a safe environment for themselves and others. Circle of Grace has proven effective in changing the culture in churches by offering opportunity and giving a common vocabulary to talk about these issues. At the same time, it nurtures faith formation by teaching the concept of a loving God who is always present with us. Find out more about Circle of Grace on the Safe Church website; perhaps this is the time to consider the program for use in your church.
This may also be a time to connect with other churches in your community to sponsor a special program or event. Perhaps special events are already planned nearby, and you can invite people from your church to join in. It takes all of us working together to end child abuse. No church needs to stand alone. Find additional child abuse prevention resources at the National Child Welfare Information Gateway.
So, who at your church pays attention to abuse prevention? Are they connected to Safe Church Ministry and the resources offered? What does your church do to prevent child abuse? Please let us know, especially if you have special ways to acknowledge Child Abuse Prevention Month in April and May. Your ideas can help other churches as they consider the question. We’ve recently heard from several churches that are updating policies. One church is using Safe Church resources to offer an adult Sunday school class about how to make church a safer place for everyone, including those who have experienced abuse. Another church is working on a curriculum for a parents’ retreat that goes along with the Circle of Grace program so that parents can reinforce the concepts at home.
In April and May, let’s talk child abuse prevention. Did you know that Safe Church Ministry started out as the Office of Abuse Prevention? Think of the heartache avoided by preventing abuse before it happens. Prevention is so important! Surely, churches belong at the front lines in the fight to end child abuse. What is your church doing?