If a parent asked you, “What are you doing to provide a safe environment for my child?” Do you know what you would tell them?
Most churches would tell that parents that their ministry is safe because they 1) background check every volunteer, and 2) provide a secure check-in procedure with parent security tags. Those are necessities for every ministry. If you’re not already doing those two things, stop what you’re doing and get on the ball. But is that enough?
These facts about sexual abuse suggest that we might ought to do more:
- 60 million survivors of sexual abuse in the US
- 1 in 3 females will be sexually abused by age 18
- 1 in 6 males will be sexually abused by age 18
- 66% of victims do not report the abuse until adulthood (if ever)
- Only 10% of sexual abusers ever enter the criminal system. The other 90% will never be found through a background check.
- Sexual Abusers are rarely strangers. 90% of victims know and trust their abuser.
- Secure Check-in procedures best protect against psychotic sexual abusers, those that will abduct, or “snatch and run,” with children. The “Psychotic Offender” represents only 4% of sexual abuse.
- The majority of sexual abuse is done by a “Preferential Offender,” who has a preferred gender and age for victims.
- 85% of sexual abusers are men. Many of them are “unidentifiable” based upon outward appearance. They look much like others in your church.
- Average male abuser begins victimizing at age 13 or 14.
- Prior to being caught and prosecuted, male abusers who choose boys will molest an average of 150 victims. Those who choose girls will molest an average of 52 victims.
These statistics are scary. Sexual abuse happens in many venues, but the church is becoming a target as other organizations raise their fences to protect children. The church must follow suit. Our background checks and secure check-in procedures are not enough to keep this horror from entering our ministries. We must do more.
Tomorrow, I’ll be posting some details on the process an abuser goes through to select victims. This information is important because there are tell-tale signs that can help you guard against abuse in your ministry. I will also post some ideas for how to better protect against the sexual abuse.