The Samaritan Counseling Center’s mission begins and ends with people and our community.

Samaritan SafeChurch – Not a Quick Fix

December 15th, 2014 by admin

Not a Quick Fix

Blog Post #1: December 2014

lindacby Linda Crockett, Director of Education & Consultation

As our SafeChurch: Ending Child Sexual Abuse continues to reach many congregations in our local southeastern PA region, it has also expanded to a national platform. We are training SafeChurch facilitators in other parts of the country, and they are organizing groups, or “Clusters”, of churches in Oregon, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and beyond. As we move more deeply into the culture-shifting work that is the heart of the emerging social movement to END child sexual abuse in which SafeChurch is grounded, we are finding many like-minded allies who agree that facts & stats about the alarming prevalence of CSA (1 in 4 girls & 1 in 6 boys sexually abused before age 18); the massive body of research documenting the long-term physical, psychological, social, economic, education and spiritual impacts; and “awareness raising” educational efforts – are not enough to end child sexual abuse. Instead, what is needed is a cultural shift to a “tipping point” where child sexual abuse is as socially unacceptable as is drunk driving or smoking in the workplace. Although these are far less complex problems, many of us are old enough to have witnessed the cultural shift around these issues, and that gives us hope.

Samaritan SafeChurch engages groups of congregations in a one-year intense process of learning about CSA, as well as other forms of abuse, with an emphasis on adult responsibility to protect children – not only in the church setting, but in the communities where our children go to school, participate in sports, attend youth events, and live. Unfortunately, these are the very places where most children are molested. Although its more comfortable to focus on “stranger danger”, 90%+ of children are sexually abused by someone in the “safe world” of a child. During the one year process, we help churches build the infrastructure to ensure the cultural shift is sustained using our interactive “best practices” policy template and embedding ongoing adult education, healthy boundary cirriculums for children, and continuing training for staff and volunteers in institutional practice.

In our work, we call on the deepest moral and religious values of all people of good–will: the imperative to protect the most vulnerable, the children, among us. We stand with people in the uncomfortable truth, confessing the chasm between the values we profess and the reality in which 25% of girls and 20% of boys suffer sexual violence. But we don’t leave them there: we inspire them with a hopeful vision about how we can change that and give them some tools to begin the hard work of living into a world where child sexual abuse is no longer the reality for millions of children.

Samaritan SafeChurch is not a quick fix. We won’t hand you a policy, keep you compliant with mandated reporting laws, train some teachers, and declare you “good to go”. There are many such programs, including some sponsored by denominations and insurance companies. While policies and training are important components of SafeChurch and we provide them to churches engaging in the one-year process, these components in and of themselves fall far short of keeping children safe.

If you are ready to work hard for a world in which child sexual abuse is no longer confronting us in the daily news; in which children are free to grow to adulthood without having their bodily and spiritual integrity violated in the abuse of power endemic in sexual violence: Please join us.

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