An upstate New York church is rallying together after one of its former volunteer leaders was indicted on sex abuse charges. The youth ministry volunteer is accused of having inappropriate sexual relations with two teenage boys; the alleged incidents of sexual abuse happened at the man’s home and did not take place on church property or at any church-sanctioned events.
What’s alarming about this situation is that by all appearances, the church did everything right before bringing the man into its fold, and has continued to work with law enforcement to bring the alleged predator to justice. The church says the man passed a background check clearance and knew the code of conduct expected of church volunteers and members, as are all youth ministry workers. Still, even with the pre-emptive efforts, the predator snuck through the church’s ranks.
Why Abuse Prevention is Key
It’s a sobering reminder that while background checks are the preeminent resource to protect our youngsters, they are not the only tool ministries have at their disposal. Protect My Ministry is a huge advocate for child safety training for abuse prevention which is an effective tool that empowers ministry members to take an active role in the protection of children.
Estimates show that 90% of sex offenders don’t have criminal records and therefore will go undetected without proper training of your volunteers and staff to identify signs of abuse and how to handle reporting of abuse. Even as your ministry makes that commitment, realize that we are fighting against what seems to be an epidemic of child abuse in this country and throughout the world. Experts estimate fewer than 10% of perpetrators are ever criminally prosecuted, due to the passage of time, legal time limits, adults who minimize an abuse outcry, or kids who never tell.
Can You Recognize a Suspect Touch?
As a youth ministry leader or volunteer, you are entrusted to care for, protect and educate our kids, many of whom are dropped off and left in your presence. But do you know what is considered an appropriate touch? Take this quiz to find out.
Is it OK to:
- Pat children on the shoulder or top of the head
- Use high-fives
- Pat children on the butt
- Use side hugs
- Use full frontal hugs
- Touch children in any way without another adult present or in full view of others
If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these, you’re wrong. Darkness to Light, one of the leading national organizations that works to prevent child sexual abuse, says it’s NEVER appropriate to pat children on the butt, use full frontal hugs or touch them without another grown-up present or in full view of others. This can be difficult as plenty of children wish to express themselves through hugs and touch and expect reciprocation, but it’s imperative youth ministry leaders and volunteers follow these guidelines to protect their charges and themselves from any perceived negative behavior.
Beyond the Basics
Child Safety Training is a comprehensive program that helps leaders and volunteers:
- become aware of the basic characteristics of a sexual abuser
- understand the process by which an abuse picks and prepares a child for abuse
- learn indicators of child sexual abuse
Protect My Ministry has pioneered an online Child Safety Training course that is a critical component to any screening program. In fact, the complete 90-minute scenario-based learning course, which includes testing and online certification of completion, is included with each background check purchased for staff members and volunteers. The online course can be accessed online from anywhere at anytime, putting convenience at the fingertips of your youth members.
An online training course is the most flexible solution you can offer your employees, staffers and volunteers, and is the most cost-effective and time-effective program to choose if you have a large number of people to train.
Protect My Ministry is committed to working with you to help you implement the most comprehensive screening solution to enhance the protection you want to offer your ministry. We’d love to talk with you about how we can help you better protect the children you serve. Give one of our experts a call today at 1-800-319-5581.