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

Ending Child Sexual Abuse: What Will It Take?

An article by Linda Crockett, Director, Education & Consultation & Safe Church Developer

For the past several years I’ve been privileged to participate in a national cohort of organizations working to end child sexual abuse supported by the Ms. Foundation for Women.

This year, I began traveling to various parts of the country to run a three-day intensive “train the trainer” Safe Church pilot program so that congregations in other communities can join the 25 churches here in Lancaster County that have completed this one year program focused on preventing child sexual abuse.

In our cohort, we have come to believe that there are four fundamental shifts that need to happen to make it possible to end CSA. These are:

  • Stranger Danger   →   Close to Home
  • Social Service   →   Social Change
  • Child Focused   →   Adult & Community Responsibility
  • Intervention   →   Prevention

Ending Child Sexual Abuse: Why do we do this work?

Sometimes people ask me why the Ms. Foundation has decided to invest so many resources in ending CSA. It’s a great question, and I love to answer it.

Here is why: Forty years ago, four visionary women established the Ms. Foundation for Women, among them Gloria Steinman and Marlo Thomas. Their focus is to elevate women’s voices and bring about positive change, including full economic and social equality for women, and ending violence against women. After years of research and analysis, they came to the conclusion that if there is ONE THING they could focus on that would contribute the most to stopping violence against women and full equality, it was ending CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE which impacts one in four girls and significantly disadvantages – often for decades – their educational, social, psychological, physical and economic well- being.

The Ms. Foundation believes that ending child sexual abuse is one of the most strategic things we can do to improve women’s lives across the lifespan. I could not agree more – because sexual abuse can take a young girl who believes she can do anything and turn her into a girl who believes she can do nothing –
and even worse, is worth nothing.

Sometimes people ask me why I devote so much of my time and energy to this work. They can’t understand how I can manage to be immersed in something so difficult to even think about. (Trust me – it can be a real conversation stopper at a party!) It’s a great question, and again I love to answer it.

Here is why: Each time I see my 11 year old granddaughter and her friends, full of confidence on the soccer field and off, nurtured by excellent parents and fully believing they can be anything they set their minds and hearts to be, I am overcome by a fierce protectiveness. I don’t want her or any of her friends to experience the sexual abuse that I and so many other women (and men) have had to struggle for years to overcome. It took me decades to believe I was worth anything after that was stolen from me in childhood. Healing is possible – but it takes a tremendous effort and energy that is not available for other things in life. No one should have to go through this kind of suffering.

ending csaI hope you will join me, in whatever way you can, in taking action to prevent child sexual abuse. Because ultimately, it is up to all of us adults to step up to the plate and use our power to protect children from sexual harm. Here are some ideas:

  • If your church has not yet participated in the Safe Church program, encourage them to consider joining our next Cluster starting in June 2014. Enrollment forms and details are on our website at congregation-care/safe-church.
  • Ending Child Sexual Abuse is one of the program areas selected to benefit from Samaritan’s 25th Anniversary campaign. Make a contribution so we can continue to keep our work strong! Contact Anita Hanna, Development Director at
  • Talk to children you love about how to stay safe from sexual abuse – and what to do if an adult or older child makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Learn about and support legislative efforts to protect children and youth. Write letters to your representatives to let them know you care about this issue!
  • If a child tells you he or she is being abused: Believe the child. Children seldom lie about sexual abuse. Make the call to Childline at 1 800 932 0313. It’s not up to you to “investigate”; leave that to the trained interview team at the Lancaster County Children’s Alliance.

Imagine the end of child sexual abuse!
Follow Safe Church: Ending Child Sexual Abuse on Twitter @

SafeChurch 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

Partnering. . .

with the Just Beginnings Collaborative to End Child Sexual Abuse