Samaritan SafeChurch Participates in Federal Roundtable on Ending Child Sexual Abuse
On December 19, Linda Crockett, Director of Samaritan Counseling Center’s SafeChurch/SafePlaces program, participated with other leaders from the Just Beginnings Collaborative Cohort (JBC) in a roundtable in Washington DC hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. Based in Brooklyn, JBC strengthens the capacity of leaders and organizations working to build a movement to end child sexual abuse.
The meeting of 17 JBC activists doing community based and culturally specific work to end child sexual abuse was attended by staff from several additional Federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control.
Crockett’s panel focused on shifting the culture in youth-serving institutions from a liability oriented approach emphasizing background checks and legal compliance to proactive engagement in protecting children through open and ongoing discussion with all stakeholders, transparency, and comprehensive education. Citing her own work in Samaritan’s SafeChurch program, she noted: “the reputations of our institutions are too often prioritized over the safety of children and justice for survivors. Sexual abuse is a systemic problem, and can’t be addressed simply by focusing on individual offenders and victims.”
The majority of the JBC cohort are public survivors of child sexual abuse, and their personal stories, which serve as catalysts for the national leadership roles they have stepped into, were woven into the discussions during the day as they described the complex, nuanced work needed to end child sexual abuse.
The goal for the meeting was to establish a shared understanding and foundation for exploration of long-term strategies that move beyond individual healing for survivors, mandated reporting, and punitive measures for offenders. Crockett remains hopeful. “Protecting children from sexual harm is not a partisan issue. In this highly polarized political climate, one thing nearly everyone agrees on is that it simply is no longer acceptable that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused.”
Samaritan SafeChurch facilitates a culture-changing process in congregations and judicatories in the Susquehanna Valley, and engages people of faith within and beyond the church. Its national training program equips leaders in other locations to facilitate the SafeChurch process they designed. For more information on Samaritan SafeChurch, click here.
Just Beginnings Collaborative Awards $225,000 to Expand Samaritan’s SafeChurch Child Sexual Abuse Prevention
(February 1, 2016)
Samaritan Counseling Center’s SafeChurch program has been awarded a three-year grant of $225,000 to expand and deepen its work with faith communities to end child sexual abuse by the Just Beginnings Collaborative (JBC), a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Founded in 2015, JBC is a national movement building platform designed to initiate, cultivate and fund strategic efforts to end child sexual abuse. JBC’s inaugural cohort is comprised of eight individual fellows and ten organizations, including Samaritan, working together to build a national social movement to end child sexual abuse. JBC’s priorities include centering projects led by survivors of child sexual abuse and marginalized communities. Visit justbeginnings.org to learn more.
Samaritan SafeChurch was initiated in 2011 with funding from the Ms. Foundation for Women, and has been part of a national cohort to end child sexual abuse for the past five years. More than 50 Lancaster-Lebanon-York Pennsylvania congregations of various traditions have participated in the one-year program, and Samaritan has trained more than 120 SafeChurch facilitators in Pennsylvania and several other states. The project is led by Linda Crockett, a survivor and the Director of Samaritan SafeChurch/SafePlaces.
Samaritan invites congregations to enroll in the Lancaster-based one year program, with the next opportunity to join a Church Cluster starting February 13. Over the next three years, new work will focus on Wisdom Council Circles for survivors, incorporation of prevention of first-time sexual offences by youth into educational programs, and documenting how culture is shifting in local churches toward adults taking action to prevent sexual abuse. In addition, a regional, and national, SafeChurch Convening will be held. Plans are already underway for the regional convening of participating congregations on April 9 at Lititz Church of the Brethren.
“People of faith are tired of being in the news for institutional failure to protect children. They understand that it takes much more than a child protection policy and compliance with law. Our deepest religious values compel us to end the conditions that allow one in four girls and one in six boys to be sexually abused in their homes, schools, churches, sports and other settings where they should be safe,” commented Linda Crockett, “If churches are going to be in the news on this issue, my hope that it is for faith-based leadership in this emerging social movement to end child sexual abuse.”
CONTACT INFORMATION: Linda Crockett, Director of Samaritan SafeChurch/SafePlaces