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Rape at Tennessee Church Sobering Reminder About Critical Need for Background Checks and Child Safety Training

This story is absolutely heartbreaking. The family of a 3-year-old rape victim has filed a lawsuit against Fellowship Bible Church in Brentwood, Tennessee citing “the utter failure of the Church to provide a safe place for the children placed in its care.”

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a guilty plea for aggravated sexual battery by a teenage volunteer at the church who admitted to raping the toddler in a church bathroom.

Questionable Actions

The family says in the lawsuit that Fellowship Bible Church badly bungled the handling of the rape allegation and subsequent investigation. Furthermore, the lawsuit says the church failed to provide adequate protection for its congregation and child participants by having shoddy background checks and safety training.

The lawsuit says the family tried to talk to the church about the situation and at first, the church denied the incident, urged the family not to pursue criminal charges and tried to hide it from other church members. The complaint also states that the training video given to church employees and volunteers apparently has less than 45 seconds of content about abuse prevention.

There is No Substitute

One of the reasons this hits us so hard is because helping prevent abuse, eliminating situations where abuse can occur, and educating people about the tactics that molesters use is WHAT WE DO at Protect My Ministry. Our background checks and Child Safety Training are superior. There is no reason why this church – and many others – shouldn’t be using Protect My Ministry.

Background checks shouldn’t be an “add on” or “something to consider” for churches these days. It’s simply a fact of life in our society that every ministry should be incorporating thorough background checks for its employees and volunteers. Certainly, any religious organization that serves children and youth has the obligation to exercise “due diligence” with regards to protecting its members, especially the children.  By performing background checks on your employees and volunteers your ministry:

• Puts up a safeguard at the “doorway” of the organization that will, in most cases, scare off sexual predators.

• Offers peace of mind to discerning parents when choosing a church, by knowing your ministry is being pro-active in trying to protect the children.

But there is a BIG difference in the quality of background checks that are available in the marketplace. It’s important for ministries to understand that working with a company founded on the principals of faith AND grounded in industry-leading background researchers and technology is of critical concern. That’s what you get with Protect My Ministry. We are uniquely equipped to understand the needs of religious organizations and create customized background screening plans that protect your congregation and help you fulfill your mission. We may not the be the cheapest screening provider you’ll find, but we are the best when it comes to delivering thorough background checks for ministries. Learn more by reading all about our customizable background screening options for ministries.

Proactively Protect Your People

Fred Engh, founder and president of the National and International Alliance for Youth Sports (, writes in the Huffington Post his interesting take on the necessity for child safety training. Engh makes clear that background checks for employees and volunteers are a necessary component to any hiring process for any group who works with children. But he stresses that they should be just one component of a multi-faceted screening approach that not only vets candidates, but teaches them the signs to look for in cases of child abuse or odd behavior by predators.

His reasoning is simple. There are many predators – like the teenager at the Tennessee church – who have never been caught, therefore they’d never have a criminal record and would appear ‘clean’ in a criminal background check. Engh says these people “could do their thing until they got caught.” By then it would be too late. The damage would be done.

Not when you have child safety training. When employees and volunteers have an awareness of the basic characteristics of a sexual abuser, the process by which an abuser picks and prepares a child for abuse, and indicators of child sexual abuse, they are better equipped to recognize and prevent abuse in an organization’s programs.

For more information, see Protect My Ministry’s Child Safety Program.

Make the Right Choice

It’s up to EVERY ministry to pro-actively include child safety classes so that EVERY employee, volunteer, office administrator, bible study leader, youth group chaperon, and – even parents who want to be educated and informed – gets the opportunity to learn what they can do to keep children safe.

As a provider of online child abuse prevention training, Protect My Ministry can play a critical role in helping you protect our children. Background checks alone will not prevent child abuse from occurring in your organization. Background checks and child safety training – when part of a comprehensive child protection program – can prevent abuse.

There is no reason a 3-year-old should have to headline this type of story.