According to the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, only 38% of children who have been sexually abused ever report it. Of those who do report the abuse, 90% are abused by someone they or their families know.
While any organization serving children is vulnerable to situations like this, houses of worship especially are at risk because they rely heavily on volunteers and may not invest the extra time and money in risk management.
The following questions are a good place to start as you determine the best way to protect your organization’s most vulnerable:
Do we run criminal background checks on anyone who interacts with children in our facilities?
Not only are background checks essential, but you also should implement a screening process for your organization to help you differentiate between a risky applicant and one who is qualified to serve. That screening process should include a comprehensive application, reference check and interview.
Are children ever alone with an adult who is not a member of their family?
There always should be at least two adults present whenever children are involved—and that includes online interactions such as video conferencing and email. Whenever an adult is sending an email to a child, they should always send a copy to that child’s parent.
Do your people know how to recognize and report suspicious activity?
Child sexual abusers know how to exploit holes in an organization’s practices, and your job is to create multiple layers of protection so no holes remain. One of those layers is sexual abuse awareness training that includes the identification of grooming behaviors. As stated earlier, fewer than half of children who are abused ever report it. So, it often falls on adults to recognize suspicious behavior and report it. And it is crucial that organizational leaders take steps to make sure everyone knows to whom they should report their suspicions.
For additional background check and screening process tips, read our other blog post, “Background Checks Are Not Enough” for more information.
The information contained in these materials is intended solely to provide general guidance on topics that may be of interest to you. While we have made reasonable efforts to present accurate and reliable information, Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. disclaims all liability for any errors or omissions, or for any actions you take or fail to take based on these materials. The information provided may not apply to your particular facts or circumstances; therefore, you should seek professional advice prior to relying on any information that may be found in these materials.