Even Religion Not Immune from Child Abuse

Church members may be slow to believe that child abuse could occur in the religious setting.

"...faith organizations have been slow to join the effort to prevent child abuse. They have been reluctant to adopt policies that call for screening volunteers [fearing] they will insult fellow churchgoers or discourage them from volunteering.

"Any organization that works with children should have such policies...to protect against child abuse [and] to protect volunteers from unwarranted claims of abuse against them.

"The Kansas East Conference of the United Methodist church and the Southern Baptist Convention are two groups that have emphasized adoption of child-protection policies for their member congregations.

"In most cases, the policies adopted by the individual churches require...that volunteers be screened for past records of child abuse [and] be trained in how to prevent abuse.

"Procedures ...are set out for volunteers and staff to follow in teaching or leading children, [and] in dealing with a reported child-abuse situation."(1)

It would be wise for all organizations working with children to adopt similar policies. This includes (but does not exclude others) various Scouting programs, YM/YWCA, YouthNet, teachers of youth in all settings, youth groups of the Lions Clubs, Rotary, Kiwanis and others. Sports groups would be well-advised to follow the same suggestions.

1. Editorial, "Churches should protect against child abuse," The Kansas City Star, 07/31/99.