It may not look like much, but it could be one of the most important documents a religious educator can have. It’s the Safety Award in Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse from the Institute of Church Safety, an online training program from

Safety Award in Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse

I took the training myself yesterday, passed the comprehensive examination, and was rewarded with the above PDF (love the Old English font, don’t you?). Okay, I was rewarded with a comprehensive overview of the issues surrounding protecting our children from preferential and situational abusers, too. Here’s a look at what’s included in the training:

(1) Understanding the Problem of Child Sexual Abuse and the Church

Child sexual abuse can happen in any church regardless of size, location, or affiliation. In this four-lesson seminar, we examine the nature and impact of child abuse, the profile of molesters, why churches are vulnerable, and the legal theories used to prove liability.

(2) Church Liability for Child Sexual Abuse

This three-lesson seminar examines the unique vulnerability of churches to liability for acts of child sexual abuse. The first lesson highlights factors that make churches susceptible to incidents of child molestation. The second lesson looks at the current legal environment and reviews factors that contribute to church litigation. Lesson three examines the most common legal theories that are used to sue churches when child sexual molestation occurs within church settings.

(3) Selecting and Screening Church Staff Members to Work with Children

To ward off potential molesters, and to ensure adequate legal safeguards that rise to the level of reasonable care, every church should implement an effective screening program. This five-lesson seminar starts by reviewing the profiles of child molesters, and then examines the screening process for clergy and paid employees, the use of criminal records checks and other background checks, and concludes with developing an effective screening program for volunteer workers.

(4) Principles of Supervising Children and Youth

This seminar begins by examining the profile of child sexual offenders. It then focuses on the problem of negligent supervision, and explains how key principles can be used to establish a basis for reasonable care. Attention is given to general versus specific supervision, and assessing levels of risk using the concepts of isolation, accountability, power, and activities. The seminar establishes five general principles of supervising children and youth to reduce the risk of child sexual molestation. At the conclusion of lesson 7 is a safety checklist that reviews the material for the entire seminar.

(5) Reporting Child Abuse

This two-lesson seminar reviews legal obligations church staff members may have to report child abuse, and how a church can develop a reporting procedure. Attention is given to understanding the differences between mandatory and permissive reporters, when a report must be made, factors to consider in making a report, and establishing a reporting procedure for church workers.

(6) Responding to Allegations of Abuse

All churches and ministries need to focus on the prevention of child sexual abuse. Realistically no practical prevention strategy is 100 percent effective. An accusation of child sexual abuse may occur in any church. Churches need to develop a premeditated plan or strategy to respond to sexual abuse allegations. This seminar examines nine key issues that church leaders should consider in responding to an allegation of abuse.

Tomorrow I’ll post more about Prairie Star’s plan to have a majority of the religious educators in the district be recipients of the Safety Award.