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Prevention is the active process of creating conditions that enhance and protect the well-being of
vulnerable others.

Many churches naively assume that their church is a safe haven where abuse and exploitation of vulnerable others would never take place. Until it does.  

On any given Sunday morning, approximately 25% of the women sitting in church pews are victims of domestic abuse, ranging from verbal and economic abuse to sexual and physical violence. These statistics don’t include the victims of husband abuse, child abuse, and sexual harassment or exploitation that are also present that Sunday.  

At some point, someone in your church will seek your help in addressing one or more of these issues.

How will you respond?   

Predators exist, and look for opportunities to connect with vulnerable others. They may volunteer to work with children or youth, serve as lay counselors or peer support group leaders, or even obtain staff or leadership positions in the church. Churches that automatically assume that their staff, leaders, teachers and volunteers are all “good people” are ripe for exploitation.  

How will you manage this risk?  

If you haven’t given much thought to these questions, now is a good time to do so. No church is immune to the problems of child abuse, family violence, or criminal or sexual exploitation of its members, regardless of its size, location or denomination.  

Research shows that most church leaders are not equipped to deal with domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, clergy misconduct or the presence of predators. Although often church leaders are the first source of help that abuse victims seek out, studies show that most church leaders are unprepared for this responsibility and unsure of what to do.   

Those the church serves have a right to expect church leaders to take appropriate steps to protect them from harm. Hoping and praying that abuse won’t happen in your church simply isn’t enough.

What do Church Leaders and Churches need to do?

Church leaders and congregations need to know how to recognize and effectively deal with episodes of domestic violence, child abuse, allegations of clergy misconduct and other crisis situations. Too often, these issues come to the attention of the church only after a serious situation abruptly comes to light and demands immediate action.  

Responding effectively in the face of the high emotions that accompany such scenarios is difficult at best, and is nearly impossible without advance preparation. Church staff, leaders and volunteers need proper training in order to meet community standards for church safety and security, protect vulnerable persons, and appropriately intervene in situations that pose threats of harm.  

Contact me at (901) 229-2849 or lkoxford@bellsouth.net for a free initial consultation and discover what your church can do to protect vulnerable others. Learn how to recognize threats to church safety and security, take sound prevention measures, advocate effectively for those at risk and intervene swiftly when the unthinkable occurs.

A basic prevention package, available for a one-time cost, includes on-site training for all church staff members, ministers, leaders and teachers in protection of vulnerable others, relevant reporting requirements (including state-specific legal mandates), considerations in responding to allegations of abuse or misconduct, dealing with crisis situations effectively, and establishing and maintaining appropriate boundaries in church ministry.

Additional training is available in these and other topics: 

  • What Church Leaders Should Know About Risk Management & Protection of Vulnerable Others
  • Dealing Effectively with Crisis Situations
  • Understanding and Responding to Domestic Violence 
  • Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse/Neglect
  • Identifying and Dealing with Sexual Harassment
  • Restoring Trust When Church Leaders Fail
  • Ethical Conduct Standards for Ministers, Church Leaders & Volunteers
  • Moving From Cultural Awareness to Cultural Competence

 
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