Helpful Tips for Clergy on How to Prevent, Respond and Recognize Child Sexual Abuse

Promote Safe Santuaries

  • Encourage parents to talk with their children about personal safety and their bodies (i.e. what to do if someone touches them inappropriately).
  • Develop a plan with your ministry leaders on what the procedure is if a child discloses abuse. Be proactive, not reactive.
  • Know who is working with your children and youth (i.e. children/youth ministers, Sunday school teachers, van drivers). Background checks are needed to ensure the safety of the children.
  • Implement safety monitors during worship and other activities to patrol the halls of the building to ensure people are where they should be.
  • Have parents sign their children in and out of activities at church to ensure the child’s safety and to monitor who is in the building.
  • Research “Safe Sanctuaries” policies and guidelines.

 


Responding to a Child’s Disclosure

A sexually abused child needs love, support, and safety. Reassure the child that the abuse was not his/her fault. Don’t coach or pressure a child to talk about the abuse. 95% of children are sexually abused by someone they know and trust.

  • Report suspected abuse to the TN Department of Children’s Services ( 1-877-237-0004) and/ or contact law enforcement.
  • Contact Our Kids Center if the child is in need of medical care {615-341-4911 ); staff is on-call 24 hours 7 days a week.
  • Listen to the child.
  • Do not confront the person suspected of the abuse. Allow authorities to handle the situation. It is not your responsibility to investigate the abuse.
  • Be supportive and calm.

Recognizing Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

  • Child discloses that abuse occured.
  • Child demonstrates language or behavior beyond what is normal for their age.
  • Child behaves in a sexual way, such as rubbing his/her own private parts more than usual or touching other people’s private parts.
  • Changes in behavior, personality, eating or sleeping patterns may be a sign a child is struggling with an issue. It is important to notice and provide the child an opportunity to talk about anything that may be causing distress.

 


Dynamics of Child Sexual Abuse

  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused by age 18.
  • 95% of the time the child knows the perpetrator.
  • Most children do not tell about sexual abuse immediately.
  • In Tennessee, everyone is a mandatory reporter. If you suspect a child has been sexually abused, you must report it. Call 1-877-237-0004.

 


Helpful Links

Prevent Child Abuse TN
Darkness to Light
TN Department of Children’s Services
National Child Traumatic Stress Network
What if I Told You?

 

x

Donation