A Safe Church sees itself as a sanctuary, where one finds protection, support, guidance and the presence of God. Our “Safe Church Project: Protection of Children and Youth from Sexual Abuse” program helps you to create policies and guidelines developed in alignment with your mission and theological understanding to create a sanctuary where all can gather in an atmosphere of trust and safety.
Safe Church is a unique process of working with groups or “Clusters” of congregations from various traditions to help shift congregational culture to proactive engagement of all adults to protect children from sexual harm – not only at church, but in the communities where we live, work, play and go to school. We are part of a national cohort working to end child sexual abuse in partnership with the Samaritan Counseling Center and Just Beginning Collaborative. JBC grew out of a groundbreaking multi-year partnership between the NoVo Foundation and the Ms. Foundation for Women that helped to establish a national network of leaders and organizations working to end child sexual abuse. Building on this foundation, the Just Beginnings Collaborative launched in 2015 as an independent project designed to support the field in achieving a new level of visibility and impact.
Has your church joined the emerging movement to end child sexual abuse? Do you believe people of faith have a contribution to make to keeping all children safe from sexual harm? Learn how congregations are making a difference in Pennsylvania and beyond – and then, join us!
SAFE CHURCH FOCUS
Building. . .
a faith-based movement to end Child Sexual Abuse
Moving. . .
beyond first generation “safe church policies and training” to shifting culture to inspire and equip adults to protect children from sexual harm in church and community
Connecting. . .
with others sharing a vision where people of faith take leadership to end the conditions that allow one in four girls and one in six boys to be sexually abused
Engaging. . .
survivors as sources of wisdom and leaders
Join a Safe Church Cluster
Our next Safe Church Cluster will begin in September 2019.
After completing our program, churches continue to receive support from the Samaritan Safe Church team and join the growing network of congregations committed to making God’s dream of keeping children safe from sexual harm a reality.
Pre-registration is required for participation in a Safe Church Cluster. Not sure your church needs training? If you would like additional information or wish to schedule a meeting, please contact me for an information packet and registration form.
Safe Church Educational Workshops
Protecting our Children and Youth: What is a “Safe Church?
This presentation is one-hour in length, and will focus on the core elements of a “safe church”, including developing a policy that fits your congregation on a practical and theological level; screening and training volunteers; education for children, parents and others about how to keep children safe in the world of school, sports, community and church; working with known offenders; and utilizing the wisdom of adult survivors of abuse in your congregation to raise awareness of the need to protect children.
We will look at the prevalence of child sexual abuse, as well as the long-term impact, assisted by viewing a segment of the DVD “Hear Their Cries: Religious Responses to Child Abuse”. We will also discuss the places abuse is most likely to occur and why children often do not tell anyone what is happening.
How Sexual Offenders “Groom” Children: What Every Adult Needs to Know
This session is intended for all adults in the congregation who want to protect children and teens in the church, family and community from sexual harm. It includes an overview of the 5-step grooming process offenders often use to engage children in a trusting relationship prior to sexually exploiting the child, information about various types of sexual offenders, and why children often don’t tell anyone what is happening to them.
We will also view the compelling video “It’s not Just Jenna”, based on a true story of a teen sexually abused by a family friend. Her story illustrates how insidious the grooming process is, and helps viewers to better recognize the “red flags” that Jenna’s parents missed. Their courage, good counseling, and faith in God allowed Jenna’s family to heal from this tragedy, and now they want to share their wisdom with others.
Accompaniment of Adult Survivors
This workshop describes how to accompany survivors as they heal, and is designed for adults who have expressed interest in learning more about how to “walk with” survivors as they heal. The workshop covers responding to disclosure from an adult sexually abused as a child, the long-term psychological and neurobiological impact of trauma, dissociation, stages of healing, disruption in relationships, triggers and grounding, and more. It concludes with a brief self-assessment for those considering the work of accompaniment.
Length: 1 – 1.5 hours
Children & Teens with Sexual Behavior Problems: What we need to know
Current statistics indicate that 30-50% of sexually abused children are the victims of other children and teens under the age of 18. If we truly want to prevent child sexual abuse, we cannot ignore this growing population of children and teens acting in sexually inappropriate ways.
This workshop, developed in consultation with nationally known expert Joan Tabachnick, is intended for any adult in the congregation or community who wants to protect children from doing harm, as well as being harmed. Natural and healthy, problematic, and sexually abusive behaviors by children and teens are explored. Parents, caregivers, and others can learn how to recognize concerning signs and intervene.
Length: 1 – 1.5 hours
A Sexual Offender is Attending My Church – and I don’t know what to say to my children!
Even with a good policy and best practices, welcoming a known sexual offender into the congregation can be challenging. Parents are often at a loss for how to talk to their child about boundary keeping with the offender, particularly when a “no contact with children” agreement is in effect. These agreements typically mean no verbal or emotional interaction between the offender and any child in the congregation.
This workshop provides a reframe from what may been seen as a crisis into an opportunity for parents to have important conversations with their children, and offers age-appropriate language for discussion of the issue.
Length: 1 – 1.5 hours
Making the Wounds Visible: Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
This workshop is offered as a resource to help congregants become more sensitive to survivors, creating safe environments where their stories may be shared and honored. It is interactive and requires a specific set up (tables) and material. See Host Church Set-Up Sheet.
The wounds of child sexual abuse are mostly invisible. Because they cannot be seen, some people do not believe they are real, and that the impact can last for decades. This workshop is based on the ‘wailing wall’ created by adult survivors at the annual Tamar Speaks retreat in April 2016 to make these wounds visible. It is designed to be interactive and engages participants in recreating portions of the wall, moving into deeper awareness of trauma, suffering and hope.
Total time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Survivors as Leaders workshop
This workshop describes how Safe Church centers and engages survivors, encouraging those who have healed to become leaders in ending child sexual abuse. It includes examples of survivor engagement in the Tamar Speaks! retreats, and in Wisdom Circles.
Tamar Speaks! A Retreat for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
A core aspect of Safe Church is lifting up and empowering adult survivors of sexual abuse in our faith communities.
We invite adult survivors of abuse to join with others from faith communities on for a day of reflecting on how our journeys of healing give voice to Tamar, a daughter of King David raped by her brother. Like many survivors today, Tamar silently carried the shame that rightfully belonged to her abuser. We will use art, music, writing, reflection and discussion to create resources to share with our faith communities to raise awareness about this issue and inspire others to use their power as adults to protect children from sexual harm.
Have a question? Not sure if Safe Church is right for you?
Call (or text) or email me today! 717-216-0138 or firstname.lastname@example.org