To make churches safer places, leaders must begin by recognizing that some families in the congregation may be experiencing violence. You can't tell from the outside which families are affected.
Unfortunately, it is in the context of close interpersonal relationships that persons with intellectual disabilities are often abused. Because of these potential risks, Friendship Ministries has developed model guidelines for churches to follow in preventing abuse.
In the pictures, people look happy, hiding the fact that many are forced, manipulated or threatened to produce them. Children are exposed to graphic images as they do their homework. Marriages, relationships, and individuals are harmed by its use. Yet we don’t talk about it. Internet pornography doesn’t belong in Christian community
What do you think churches should do to provide a safer environment for individuals with disabilities?
It is important to balance safety and risk with the rights and autonomy of individuals living with disabilities. This can be challenging and confusing, especially for caregivers, but it is important that the right balance be struck.
Outings, retreats and social events at the church can be fun for children and youth. However, fun can turn into tragedy if supervision is inadequate. How can your church provide supervision that will ensure the least risk possible?
“Since only .001 percent of all deaths occur in church, we can easily be lulled into thinking that such things could never happen to us. And yet the sad truth is, such things can and do happen to us. Churches are particularly vulnerable.” - Michael Jackson with the Enrichment Journal.
How much do you know about stalking? Take this interactive quiz.
“Too often, intervention occurs only after abuse is reported. Greater investments are needed in programs that have proven to stop abuse before it occurs – such as family counseling and mandatory parenting education.” - Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
"Often, ministers want to resolve such matters internally through counseling with the victim or the alleged offender, without contacting civil authorities.” Richard R. Hammar goes on to explain that “such a response can have serious legal consequences.”
Dove's Nest has created resources to help churches focus on the role they can play in child abuse prevention.
"Part of the work is ensuring that boundaries are established and maintained, the harm of sexual abuse is understood, and healthy relationships are actively talked about. Each of these is essential to prevention.”
“Dating violence refers to a pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse perpetrated by an adolescent against a current or former dating partner.”