Creating a Community of Safety
By Aoife Barrington-Haber
Every parent wants their child to grow up healthy, and to develop relationships based in mutual respect. But if a child experience sexual abuse, that path to adulthood becomes twisted with hurtful messages and destructive behavior. We all want to believe it cannot happen in our community, in our families, our churches. We used to warn children about “stranger danger,” but most abuse is committed by an older person that the child knows and trusts.
It is a sad statistic that 1 out of 10 children will experience sexual abuse by age eighteen. But we can help change that.
As a covenanted multi-generational community, we have an opportunity to be proactive in preventing child sexual abuse, in our congregation and beyond, by dedicating ourselves to awareness and education.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The RE Committee, in cooperation with the FUSF Board of Trustees, will be working this month to earn the distinction of “Partner in Prevention” from the organization Darkness to Light. www.d2l.org
Already in RE, we take the steps of:
- Careful screening of all employees and RE volunteers
- Minimizing risk of abuse by requiring two adults present in a classroom, and making one-on-one conversations observable and interruptible
- Providing Our Whole Lives (OWL) classes in which children and youth learn about healthy relationships and parents receive support as the primary sexuality educators of their children (Coming soon: OWL for K-1!)
- Volunteers are advised on how to recognize and interrupt boundary violations
To become a Partner in Prevention, we will be asking all our volunteers and staff to complete the two-hour online training program, “Stewards of Children.” We also encourage as many adults in our congregation as possible to become trained. Darkness to Light has an ultimate goal of ending child sexual abuse by educating a percentage of the population on how to recognize, report and prevent abuse. Their website and app provide excellent resources to do just this, and to help survivors of abuse find the support they need to heal (yes, you can heal!).
You can begin by simply reading about the 5 Steps to Protecting Children:
Together we can make a positive difference in the lives of all children.
With Love and Courage,
Coming up in RE:
We have a new Google Group! Thanks to RE Committee member Kate Johnson for setting this up. To join, sign in to googlegroups.com and search for fusf-re-families and request to join, or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4/2 Classes. Aoife has the day off, and Julie Weismoore will be RE Assistant.
Coming of Age meets, Credo Writing
4/9 Classes, Coming of Age goes to Common Cathedral
4/16 Easter- Multi-generational Service followed by Easter Egg Hunt!
Vacation Week: Stay tuned for news of the RE Family Outing
4/23 Maker Space activity for grades K and up. (Chalice Children has class)
Coming of Age meets, Credo writing