“That does not happen here” was my first response when I was explained the problem in 2015. While conducting the Galilee program five years ago, one of the interns tearfully poured out her heart concerning her sexual assault when 11 years old. What was more startling was that the perpetrator was a person in fellowship at the Assembly. At first, I and my fellow directors of the Galilee Program advised the victims to work through their local oversight. Not much had crossed our minds about this issue until 2017 when this dear sister published her story on her blog site (Come Awake Blog, “From Brokenness to Healing”). At that time, we (i.e. the directors) realized this is not an isolated story, but one of many similar heart wrenching experiences in the current generation. Since 2017, another 20+ credible testimonials have been forwarded to us which describe their violations, their subsequent struggles, and astounding victories since their assaults.
What amazed us was the proximity of the perpetrators and settings. Violators spanned from traveling preachers to men or women in the Assembly. Victims ranged from girls to boys and perpetrators included both genders beginning from teens to adulthood. Settings were in the home or in a public forum, sometimes with inappropriate touching at Assembly gatherings. These testimonies are shocking and horrific. The agonizing issues of soul and self-perception loomed large in our victim’s tormented accounts. The common denominator for successfully navigating through such injury was a trusting and clinging to their Christ through and beyond the sins of others. It was disheartening to hear of how some perpetrators went unaddressed or undisciplined and unrepentant. Some shepherds were at a loss on how to deal with a violator of this magnitude. Other leaders were too embarrassed to expose the problem. What was left in the wake of such inactivity were shattered lives that were gasping for the air of closure. In some cases, no life preserver was in sight due to the dormancy of shepherds and sometimes parents.
I ask you to understand that it is not our goal to shock a person over the sins of another. However, it is incumbent upon us to address our own sin in our own camps (1 Pet 4:17). Thus, in May 2018, we (i.e. the directors of the Galilee Program) first published an open letter describing the scope of the iniquity. It was our intention to alert the shepherds of the prevalence and nature of sexual assault within our ranks. We are now producing a letter to parents who may be unaware of the dangers lurking around the corners of our children. Both of these letters are available at www.protecthissheep.com, which is a website started in May of 2018 to begin to address our dilemmas.
However, we believe this problem demands more awareness and subsequent appropriate shepherding. This article is one of several mechanisms toward this goal. The aforementioned website is designed to focus on three potential areas of solution:
I invite you to visit this website but most of all pray for the Bride of Christ in dealing with such atrocities. We must be a people to stand in the gap of such situations (Ezek 22:30). Every generation has its own “giants” that dominate the horizon of the land we are to possess in Christ. We cannot sit idle but must act under the direction and leadership of His Spirit and His Word. I was personally awakened to the heavy responsibility of protecting my children from this infection for it is the “spirit of harlotry” (Hos 5:4) that is surging as a tidal wave today. I would invite you to do the same in a godly measured manner. Please visit the website and communicate with us as this problem has many more layers to address. I beg you to at least ask the question: “Could this happen really here?” Some would say I am exaggerating a problem that does not infiltrate our settings. I would submit that the testimonials of those on our website graphically suggest otherwise. May I ask you to prayerfully consider just how hidden sin of this nature is sabotaging the Lord’s glory on our watch for His Church.
Co-director of Protect His Sheep together with Jim McCarthy and Brady Collier
If you are concerned about a child who is in immediate danger or risk, CALL 911 OR YOUR LOCAL POLICE.
CALL 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) then push 1 to talk to a hotline counselor. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, serving Canada and the United States, is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The hotline counselors work with translators who speak more than 200 languages to help callers who speak a language other than English. All calls are anonymous. (The hotline counselors don’t know who you are and you don’t have to tell them.) Child Abuse Hotline Albert
CALL 1-800-387-5437 (KIDS) to get help if you, or children you know, are being neglected, abused or sexually exploited. If you believe a child is at risk, you must report it. Help is available in multiple languages 24/7.
CALL 1-866-543-8477. Reports or tips made by the public can provide critical information in locating a missing child. If you have any information about a missing child, please call. Any amount of information can be significant.
Canadian Centre for Child Protection
Go to Contact Us. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is a national charity dedicated to the personal safety of all children. Our goal is to reduce the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, assist in the location of missing children, and prevent child victimization through a number of programs, services, and resources for Canadian families, educators, child-serving organizations, law enforcement, and other parties.
If you are concerned about a child who is in immediate danger or risk, CALL 911 OR YOUR LOCAL POLICE.
Child Welfare Information Gateway Related Organizations
Phone: 800.4.A.CHILD (800.422.4453)
People They Help: Child abuse victims, parents, concerned individuals
Child Sexual Abuse
Darkness to Light
Phone: 866.FOR.LIGHT (866.367.5444)
People They Help: Children and adults needing local information or resources about sexual abuse
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Phone: 800.799.SAFE (800.799.7233)
Video Phone Only for Deaf Callers: 206.518.9361
People They Help: Children, parents, friends, offenders
Help for Parents
National Parent Helpline®
Phone: 855.4APARENT (855.427.2736) (available 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., PST, weekdays)
People They Help: Parents and caregivers needing emotional support and links to resources
National Human Trafficking Hotline
People They Help: Victims of human trafficking and those reporting potential trafficking situations
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Phone: 800.950.NAMI (800.950.6264) (available 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., ET, weekdays)
People They Help: Individuals, families, professionals
Child Find of America
Phone: 800.I.AM.LOST (800.426.5678)
People They Help: Parents reporting lost or abducted children, including parental abductions
Child Find of America—Mediation
Phone: 800.A.WAY.OUT (800.292.9688)
People They Help: Parents (abduction, prevention, child custody issues)
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Phone: 800.THE.LOST (800.843.5678)
People They Help: Families and professionals (social services, law enforcement)
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
Phone: 800.656.HOPE (800.656.4673)
People They Help: Rape and incest victims, media, policymakers, concerned individuals
National Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Information Center
People They Help: Families, professionals, media, policymakers, concerned individuals
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Phone: 800.273.TALK (800.273.8255)
TTY: 800.799.4TTY (800.799.4889)
People They Help: Families, concerned individuals
Youth in Trouble/Runaways
National Runaway Switchboard
Phone: 800.RUNAWAY (800.786.2929)
People They Help: Runaway and homeless youth, families
We would like to think that “church people” and Christian ministries are among the safest people and places for children, but this is not true. One convicted child abuser said:
If ministries of your church do not currently have safeguards in place to protect children from abuse, speak to the leadership and encourage them to do something about it immediately. One organization that can help your church is G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). To learn about the need and how they can help, click on the image below and view their three-minute video explanation about how your church can become a safer place for children.
The Stop It Now! campaign advises:
A. Stay steady
The child will look to you for cues that they will be okay.
Unquestionably, sexual abuse can change a child’s view of the world. Yet,
regardless of how devastated you are, they need to believe that they will be
alright, that they are not “damaged goods.” As is true for other severe
traumatic events, with protection, support and specialized treatment, children
can—and do—recover. Children can—and do—go on to live full, happy, productive
lives. Lots of successful people, including many famous figures, are survivors
of sexual abuse. Breaking the silence is the first step.
B. Believe what they say
Thank the child for telling you. Let them know you love them. If the disclosure is hard to believe, keep reminding yourself that false disclosures are rare. If you absolutely feel you need more information, think of the first step: stay calm. Ask clarifying questions in a matter-of-fact way. Be very, very careful to avoid questions that suggest you expect or want a specific answer (for example, stay away from leading questions such as “Did somebody touch you right here?”). Try not to show relief or disapproval to the answers your child gives. When children detect pain in others resulting from their disclosure, they will sometimes try to take back or “recant” the disclosure. This is common and is not necessarily an indication that the abuse really didn’t happen.
According to a child abuse prevention campaign in the United Kingdom and Ireland called Stop It Now!:
There are many understandable reasons why a child victim of sexual abuse is not likely to tell anyone about their abuse. Often, the abusive adult will convince the child that they won’t be believed or that they are somehow responsible for the abuse and will be punished for it. The child may care about or feel protective of the person who sexually abused them and may feel they’d be betraying this person by telling about the sexual contact and the abuser may use this information to help maintain the secrecy. Children frequently remain silent to protect a non-abusive parent from upsetting information.
Sometimes, a child may be confused if they experienced positive physical pleasure, arousal, or emotional intimacy from the abuse. This confusion can make it difficult for the child to speak up.
A child may feel that they permitted the abuse and should have been able to stop it. Remember that there are no situations where a child is responsible for any sexual interaction with a more powerful child or adult.
People who abuse children may offer a combination of gifts or treats and threats about what will happen if the child says “no” or tells someone. They may scare the child with threats of being hurt physically, but more often the threat is about what will be lost if they tell (e.g. the family breaking up or someone going to prison).
In order to keep the abuse secret, the abuser will often play on the child's fear, embarrassment, or guilt about what is happening, perhaps convincing them that no one will believe them or that the child will be punished. Sometimes the abuser will convince the child that he or she enjoyed it and wanted it to happen.
The U.S. Child Welfare Information Gateway connects child welfare and related professionals to resources to help protect children and strengthen families. It can help you understand your responsibilities under the law of your state.
If you know of a child being abused, report the matter directly to a local or state law enforcement agency or to your state or county department of child protective services. In most U.S. states, all persons who are licensed or certified by the state or who are employees of facilities licensed, certified, or operated by the state are required under law to report child abuse. In most states this includes teachers, daycare employees, nurses, doctors, clinic or health-care facility professionals, and clergy. According to the U.S. Child Welfare Information Gateway:
The circumstances under which a mandatory reporter must make a report vary from state to state. Typically, a report must be made when the reporter, in his or her official capacity, suspects or has reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected. Another standard frequently used is in situations in which the reporter has knowledge of, or observes a child being subjected to, conditions that would reasonably result in harm to the child. In Maine, a mandatory reporter must report when he or she has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is not living with the child’s family. Mandatory reporters are required to report the facts and circumstances that led them to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected. They do not have the burden of providing proof that abuse or neglect has occurred.
In some states, the list of mandatory reporters includes teachers, employees of day camps, foster parents, social workers, physicians, nurses, dental hygienists, computer technicians, photographic image processors, clergy, drug counselors, coaches, athletic directors, and others.
To review the laws of your state, go to:Child Welfare Information Gateway—State Statues Search
The NSOPW is an unprecedented public safety resource that provides the public with access to sex offender data nationwide. It is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Justice and state, territorial, and tribal governments, working together for the safety of adults and children.
This registry is named in honor of 22-year-old college student Dru Sjodin of Grand Forks, North Dakota, a young woman who was kidnapped and murdered by a sex offender who was registered in Minnesota. Read the Dru Sjodin Story.
Parents, employers, and other concerned residents can utilize the NSOPW search tool to identify location information on sex offenders residing, working, and attending school not only in their own neighborhoods, but in other nearby states and communities. In addition, the website provides visitors with information about sexual abuse and how to protect themselves and loved ones from potential victimization.
The Mayo Clinic defines child abuse as:
The Mayo Clinic continues:
A child who's being abused may feel guilty, ashamed or confused. He or she may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent, other relative or family friend. That's why it's vital to watch for red flags, such as:
Specific signs and symptoms depend on the type of abuse and can vary. Keep in mind that warning signs are just that—warning signs. The presence of warning signs doesn't necessarily mean that a child is being abused.
The Mayo Clinic advises:
If you are concerned that a child is being abused, or if you worry that you might abuse your child, seek help immediately. These organizations can provide information and referrals:
Daniel P. Huerta, a licensed clinical social worker and Vice President of Parenting and Youth at Focus on the Family, writes:
There’s no doubt, the porn industry wants your child. And statistics clearly show they’re succeeding. In a study spanning 1995 through 2015, researchers discovered extensive use of pornography by adolescents in the U.S. and other countries. Often initial exposure is unintentional when kids stumble upon pornographic imagery.
That data tracks with what I see in my private practice. Many kids addicted to pornography were initially exposed to it through a friend, lingerie and swimwear ads, sexting, chat rooms, fantasy novels or an accidental online click. Then the draw becomes powerful and they secretly and intentionally seek out more images and/or experiences. To them, it’s worth the shame and guilt they initially experience.
Tweens and teens are using porn at an alarming rate. The recent statistics should cause concern for every parent:
These numbers delight the multi-billion-dollar pornography industry that generates more revenue than rock and country music, Broadway productions, theater, ballet, jazz and classical music combined. It also exceeds the total gross income of all three major networks—ABC, CBS and NBC.
This is a series by Focus on the Family: