April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which provides an important opportunity for congregations to be sure they have policies and practices in place to protect children. Not all congregations will find it possible to use April as a focus on child abuse prevention, but this important issue can be addressed at any time. As an alternative approach, an existing team can focus on child abuse prevention throughout the year.
Here are three valuable resources that provide insights and guidance to enable congregations not only to raise awareness, but more importantly to take intentional and immediate action.
Church Law & Tax is a resource devoted to “keeping your church safe, legal, and financially sound.” Subscribers ($119/year) have access to hundreds of web and/or print resources that address these important issues in current and legal ways. A recent document provides ten questions that congregational staff need to answer as soon as child abuse is suspected. Church Law & Tax publishes child-abuse reporting laws information, which covers how clergy and congregations in all 50 states must respond to child abuse.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month website
This website provides a plethora of resources to help community groups, families and individuals learn how to prevent and respond to child abuse. From this site, you can download free the Making Meaningful Connections: 2014 Prevention Resource Guide. One section of the resource guide is titled “Keeping Your Family Strong.” Here you are introduced to the concept of protective factors, which are strengths and resources families draw upon when life gets difficult. The article pairs each protective factor, such as Parental Resilience, with suggestions of what parents can do to build that protective factor. The “Media Toolkit” on the child abuse prevention month website provides sample facebook messages, tweets and e-mail signatures that congregations and others can use to raise awareness of the existence and dangers of child abuse.
Church Volunteer Daily is a ministry of Group Publishing. They offer a free e-newsletter that addresses the issue of protecting children from abuse. Recent postings include information on background checks, safety issues and steps to minimize the risks. One article, "The Top 5 Myths About Background Checks," debunks common misconceptions about background checks.