The month of April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in the United States. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. By working together and pooling our resources during the month of April, churches and communities can highlight sexual violence as a major public health, human rights and social justice issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts. Learn more on the SAAM website.
April is also National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States. The National Child Abuse Prevention Website discusses multiple protective factors—or conditions in families and communities—that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families. Protective factors are attributes that serve as buffers, helping parents who might otherwise be at risk of abusing their children to find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress. Research has shown that these protective factors are linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect. Protective factors include:
- Nurturing and attachment
- Knowledge of parenting and child development
- Parental resilience
- Social connections
- Concrete support for parents
- Social and emotional competence for children
For a faith-centered approach to Child Abuse Prevention Month, Dove's Nest provides resources to help faith communities protect children and youth in their homes, churches, and communities during child abuse prevention month. Check out their resources on the Dove's Nest webpage devoted to Child Abuse Prevention month resources, including bulletin inserts, fact sheets, and Power Points that might work for you at your church.
Spring is a wonderful time to promote the Circle of Grace curriculum at your church. Circle of Grace fits well into any faith formation program or curriculum with an emphasis on God’s presence and desire for a relationship with us. The program, which can be used alongside other curriculum, will help children and youth in Grades K-12:
- respect themselves and others
- learn to identify healthy relational boundaries
- know what to do if any boundary is threatened or violated
The Circle of Grace program is comprehensive and includes training materials for teachers and information for parents. "It’s tried, evaluated, and proven, and it helps children and youth take an active role in building a safe environment for themselves and others," says Bonnie Nicholas, Director of Safe Church Ministry for the CRC.
Safe Church would like to post this update from Futures without Violence about teens taking the lead!
Young survivors of sexual assault and harassment, as well as their parents, are not backing down. They are taking on Congress and their local school districts - and winning. Take for instance this week’s news article about a group of teenagers in Oregon who forced their school district to change how it handles sexual violence.
Anyone can be an activist for change, and this week is a perfect time to join in the fight. Through the end of this week, Congress is in recess, which means your Congressional Representatives and Senators are back in their home offices. Let’s make sure our Members of Congress know how critical it is to fund and enforce programs and services that address sexual assault and harassment in K-12 schools across the country.
We encourage you to call or visit to express your support for items such as: Continued funding and support for the federal Office of Civil Rights and Title IX enforcement; Funding for consent education and prevention programs in middle and high schools; and Support services for victims and survivors of sexual assault and cyber harassment.
Let's follow the lead of these teens. I'm praying for the day when the Church will take the lead in the fight to end abuse.
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