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

Recognizing, Responding, and Reporting Child Abuse in the Congregation


The Grooming Process: How Sexual Offenders Engage Children and Why Children Don’t Tell

We can’t protect our children from what we don’t understand or know about. In this one-hour presentation, participants learn about the calculated process offenders often employ to entrap children into sexual activity, and to keep them from telling anyone. This process is called grooming, and offenders use it with parents as well as their children, integrating themselves into the child’s “safe world”. It increases the offender’s access to his victim, and decreases the likelihood of discovery. Understanding how it works is vital to protecting the children in our schools, communities, homes, and congregations.

Teen Dating Violence: What Every Parent (and Teen) Needs to Know

“My boyfriend really loves me. He calls or sends me text messages every few hours, and is really jealous when I am around other guys. He even tells me how to dress to please him.” Many teens express such sentiments and attribute them to love, rather than the warning signs of a potentially dangerous partner. In this one hour session that can be adopted for teens as well as their parents, participants learn the stunning prevalence of dating violence, risk behaviors associated with it, and how to recognize the warning signs. Safety planning for teens is also included.


Religious Responses to Child Abuse: Video and Discussion

In this two hour session, participants view and discuss the award-winning video “Hear Their Cries” produced by the FaithTrust Institute. The video offers perspectives from clergy and lay leaders from various faith traditions, plus experts in the field of abuse. Learning objectives include how to define physical, sexual and emotional abuse; discussion of theological issues such as forgiveness and confidentiality; the long term consequences of child abuse; and developing pro-active ministries of abuse prevention.

Mandated Reporting of Child Abuse by Clergy and Staff: A Refresher and Update (PA)

Clergy and certain church staff are mandated to report child abuse, with very narrow exceptions. Yet many have very little training on the specifics of Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) and may fail to make reports that are legally required. In addition, some major changes were made to the law in 2007 that significantly lower the ‘threshold’ for when a report must be made. This essential session for church staff and clergy provides a refresher on requirements under the CPSL and important information on the changes that went into effect in May 2007. (1.5 hours)

Responding to a Disclosure of Sexual Abuse: What To Do – and What NOT To Do

Despite our best efforts to protect them, one out of every four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused or assaulted before they reach the age of 18. Most of us are not prepared for the shock of learning a child we love has been abused, and may respond in ways that are not helpful to the child and, may ultimately hinder prosecution of the offender. In this presentation, participants receive practical information about how to best respond; help in understanding how age and developmental levels of children may result in confusing and sometimes retracted disclosures; an overview of what happens when suspected abuse is reported to child protective services; and guidance on the how to manage the emotions we experience when we find out a vulnerable child has been harmed.


Being Part of the Process: Healing Sexually Abused Kids and their Families

In this dynamic and interactive presentation, Dr. Stephanie Van Deusen talks about the counseling process for sexually abused children, and discusses how parents, clergy, friends and others can support a child healing from trauma. Using a model of Rupture-Repair-Reconnection, she assists participants in understanding the traumatic stress response, the factors that promote resilience and healing, how children speak out through their behaviors, identifying ‘triggers’ for the child and family members, and the importance of a “team” approach to healing. Dr. Van Deusen has extensive experience working with adults and children. Her research has focused on how trauma and disrupt one’s attachment to God and impact psychological well-being. (1.5 hours)

For more information, contact Linda Crockett, Director of Clergy & Congregation Care, at 717.560.9991 or email Linda

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