Often, when churches and other organizations make the news because of incidents of abuse, it is revealed that individuals either overtly covered up the abuse or that they neglected to report the abuse to authorities.Making a plan for how your church will respond to abuse if an allegation should occur will help ensure that your response is an appropriate one.
The website churchsafety.com offers a variety of resources to assist your congregation in preparing a plan for how it would deal with allegations of abuse.
The Risks of Not Reporting Abuse
In this article Richard R. Hammar writes. “It is common for ministers to learn that a minor is being abused. This can occur in a number of ways, including a confession by the perpetrator, or a disclosure by a friend or relative of the victim or perpetrator. Often, ministers want to resolve such matters internally through counseling with the victim or the alleged offender, without contacting civil authorities.” Hammar goes on to explain that “such a response can have serious legal consequences.” The article goes on to discuss in more detail the following subjects: why pastors and churches need to be concerned about abuse allegations; what is child abuse; who are mandatory reporters of child abuse; who has immunity from liability; how to report abuse; and criminal liability.
Simple Tips for a Response Plan to Child Sexual Abuse
This article shares simple tips to recognize the signs of child sexual abuse and respond quickly. The article breaks response planning down into two steps:
- What to do before abuse happens, including steps like know your facts, know the signs, plan ahead, establish a reporting chain, and be ready to believe.
What to do after an allegation is made, including steps like protect the victim first, support the victim, set boundaries and minister to all.