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Purpose: The purpose of this section is to provide basic information on the extent, nature and dynamics of child abuse and neglect with particular emphasis on how clergy and military chaplains can respond to these needs.
Military specific issues and procedures are not presented in this section because of the extensive training on this subject provided by Family Services and Family Advocacy. Several training manuals have come out of their trainings and are available through the training offices of the chaplain's particular branch. For example, in 1985 Creative Associates of Washington D.C. produced two such manuals, one for Child Advocacy Workshops and one for a Clinical Seminar for Family Advocacy Officers.
The Navy has developed a publication specifically for chaplains: The Navy Family Advocacy Program, A Guide for Chaplains, and A Curriculum for Chaplains.
The two current and important manuals are:
0930 - 1030 Child Abuse and Neglect
|To create immediate interest in this form of victimization||15 minutes||Local presenter or VCR & monitor for video||Enlist a volunteer who
was abused as a child to
give a personal
testimony. Usually the
Dept. Of Human or
Social Services or a Child Abuse Prevention Organization can assist in identifying such a person. If a clergy or religious leader was involved in her/his experience it adds to presentation. If unavailable use a video from same source or from The Spiritual Dimension in Victim Services, Denver, CO
|Clarification||5 minutes||Question & Answer dialogue with presenter or a brief discussion of video|
|Overview of four types of child abuse giving definitions and some dynamics||40 minutes||Training manual pp. 29-68
Overhead projector trans-parencies from indicated
pages in manual
2 - Definitions pp. T2, T3
2 - Neglect pp. T4, T5
2 - Indicators pp. T6, T7
1 - Physical abuse p. T8
2 - Indicators pp. T9, T10
1 - Child sexual abuse
(myths) p. T11
3 - Indicators pp. T12, T13, T14
2 - Response pp. T15, T16
2 - Child Emotional
Abuse pp. T17, T18
1 - Indicators p. T19
Note: There are 17 transparencies so the presenter will need to move along quickly & allow limited discussion
Presenters should be familiar with back up information on pp. 29-68 and refer participants to this material for further detail.
* Video Child Abuse: A Global Crisis, (Short segment on emotional abuse)
LDS Salt Lake Distribution Center 1 (800) 537-5950
1045 - 1200 Child Abuse and Neglect (Continued)
|To consider Chaplain's
response to the needs of
victims of child abuse & neglect and responsibility to report in order to protect the child
|15 minutes||Training manual p. 69, 70||The pages indicated have
scenarios of the four
types of child abuse &
Participants break into small groups (4 at a minimum) with each group taking a scenario & discussing possible responses to the scenario
|To evaluate possible responses||15 minutes||A group spokesperson
reports to entire
gathering the responses
|To understand procedure to protect victims of child abuse by reporting||10 minutes||Overhead projector &
Manual pp. 71, 72
Transparency p. T20
|Present brief history from
Mandate to Report
|To explore issues around obligation to report vs. Clergy privilege of confidentiality||20 minutes||Manual pp. 79-81
Overhead projector & screen
Transparencies pp. T21,
Privilege of Confidentiality
Video "Angels Among Us" *
(only Ian Russ, Hebrew University & Fr. Jim Williams segments on reporting and confidentiality)
|Review pages in manual
Note Military: pp. 78-81
Show transparencies on
Privilege of Confidentiality
Show Russ & Williams part of video
Conduct question and answer dialogue on this subject
|To examine pastoral
|15 minutes||Manual pp. 82-95||Encourage reflection on
Have participants break into groups to discuss which of the civilian models presented on pp. 85-86 could be imple-mented by military & how.
|* Available for copying from Spiritual Dimension in Victim Services, Denver, CO|
|TOTAL TIME||75 minutes|
No concern should be more important to a community than the protection and welfare of its children. Babies and young children are among the most vulnerable victims of violent crime.
According to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, 2,700,000 reports of children being abused or neglected are received each year. Data from a survey conducted by the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse reveal 1,200 child abuse fatalities in a given year, three child abuse related deaths every day.
Child abuse and neglect are found in all cultural, ethnic, occupational and socioeconomic groups. It is a problem which requires our immediate and serious attention and the development of interagency and community cooperative efforts in prevention, education, reporting, training and treatment.
Many persons are in positions to observe the battered and abused child: teachers, doctors, nurses, clergy and religious educators, counselors, babysitters, neighbors and family members. Too often neglect and abuse situations are overlooked, reaching child protective agencies only after the damage is severe or irreversible. The earlier the problem is referred for help, the better the chance of helping the child and the family.
Abusing a child is a crime. Therefore, those agencies of government responsible for dealing with crime must maintain a major role in such cases. Once such intervention has occurred, however, it is recognized that it may not always be appropriate to handle this type of criminal activity with a traditional crime and punishment approach. All segments of the system must work together; pooling their collective experience and judgement. Together they should move to ensure even greater cooperation and communication between law enforcement, social service agencies and private community resources to create the necessary team approach.
Certainly our understanding of "private community resources" should include the religious community, with its vast pool of volunteers which are, by the very mandate of their faith, committed to ministering to human need.
We must be concerned with the detection, treatment and, above all, the effective prevention of child abuse and neglect for the sake of children, parents and society as a whole.
The following list is not exhaustive, but contains a sufficient number of scriptures to suggest possibilities to use for addressing the concerns of children and others in society who are vulnerable. This is not an attempt to "proof text." The suggested scripture passages should be considered within the framework of their contexts. The reference is accompanied by a clue phrase.
These scriptures may be used in a variety of ways -- as texts for sermons or homilies on care for children, as the basis for a Biblical litany or a dramatic reading, as memory verses, or to make banners or posters.
From the Hebrew Scriptures
Let me not look upon the death of a child.
I will lead on slowly according to the pace of the children.
... that they may teach their children also
...and you shall teach these words
I Samuel 3:8
Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.
I Samuel 16:11
There remains yet the youngest.
... out of the mouths of babes and infants
Thou didst keep me safe upon my mother's breasts.
My father and my mother have forsaken me.
Father to the fatherless
As a father pities his children...
Your children shall be like olive shoots around your table.
Sorely have they afflicted me from my youth.
... like a child is quieted at its mother's breast
A wise son and a foolish son
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children.
Train up a child in the way he should go.
Open your mouths for the rights of all who are left desolate.
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.
For unto us a child is born.
And a little child shall lead them.
The children shall say..."The place is too narrow for me. Make room for me..."
I will save your children.
Hide not yourself from your own flesh.
From the Talmud
And be needful (mindful) not to neglect the children of the poor
A blessing of a parent's children is his own blessing.
From the New Testament
Then Herod... killed all the male children... two years old or under.
Who would give a son a stone instead of bread, etc.
Whoever receives one such child receives me... Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin... better he be drowned in the... sea
How often would I have gathered your children... as a hen gathers her brood under her wings?
Let the children first be fed.
Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.
Let the children come to me; do not hinder them.
Receive the Kingdom of God like a child.
Feed my lambs.
I Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child I spoke like a child, I thought like a child...
Children, obey your parents in the Lord.
Parents, do not provoke your children to anger.
Religion that is pure... is this: to visit orphans... in their affliction.
There are four categories of child abuse:
Particular information on each of these will follow this general information which is relative to all categories.
Who Are the Victims?
Children 0-5 account for 43% of all child abuse reports. The average age of children with major physical injuries due to abusive treatment is 5. It is obvious that very young children are the most vulnerable to physical injury by a parent or caretaker.
More than 1,100 cases of child sexual abuse are reported everyday, which translates into more than 400,000 cases each year. (1)
Overall reporting rates are essentially the same for both boys and girls. However, reported cases of sexual abuse are 78% female. (Note: This may be a reporting issue. More recent reports indicate that there may be many more boys molested than previously thought. They seem to not divulge as readily.)
Who Are the Abusers?
Child abusers are usually ordinary people caught in situations that are beyond their capabilities. Child abuse cuts across all boundaries of economic level, race, ethnic heritage and religious faith.
Why Does Abuse Happen?
The "why" is a complex issue. Child abuse is likely to occur when:
How serious Are the Long-Term Effects of Abuse?
Results from a number of research studies strongly suggest that the single most common element in the lives of abusive or violent adults is the experience of having been neglected or abused as children.
Our society pays a high price for the tragedy of child abuse. Billions of dollars are spent in the areas of medicine, education, social services and lost productivity. (2)
But In My Congregation? YES
Although the research is limited, most child protective services and treatment centers indicate that there are as many cases of ongoing or previous child abuse coming from the church, temple and synagogue families as from the population in general.
This is verified by the studies that have been made by Christian and other religious counselors at faith-based colleges, Bible schools and seminaries; and by pastors and rabbis who have opened the subject in their churches and congregations. (3)
Pastors, priests and rabbis who have, in some way, made it known to their congregations that they are aware of the extent and nature of child abuse, are usually immediately approached by victims, non-offending spouses or even the perpetrator himself or herself. This is because the incidence of abuse and neglect is so high, both in the general population and in our congregations as well.
However, if a victim feels that there may be lack of understanding or in-sensitivity to the victim's concerns on the part of the spiritual leader, the chances are very slim that such problems will ever be divulged to him or her.
James Williams, M.D., S.J. is both a pediatrician and a Jesuit priest. He practices at the Children's Center of the Oakland Children's Hospital, Oakland, California. Dr./Fr. Williams makes the following statement: "I think there is a natural tendency towards denial initially. That was certainly the case among physicians years ago with physical abuse... an attitude of 'This is unbelievable. This can't really be happening.' I don't think clergy are alone in sharing that reaction. But all of us who are in a position to help must quickly realize that it is real... and we all have a job to do. That can mean becoming a prophet... unwilling at times. I mean, prophets usually say unpleasant things. And they are not always treated kindly..." (4)
Appropriate intervention by clergy and congregations involves, at a minimum, identification, referral to treatment and spiritual ministry. The issue of the pastoral privilege of confidentiality vs. the need for the child to be protected will be considered on page 73.
"Military chaplains are obligated to maintain privileged communication. Confidentiality and other reporting standards as set forth in their respective service regulations, as well as by their individual faith groups." (PERS 042P)
The other three factors will then be considered separately as part of each of the four categories: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse.
(1) National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, Chicago, Illinois.
(2) Spelman, Cornelia, "Highlights of Official Child Neglect and Abuse Reporting," 1984 -- American Assn. For Protecting Children, Inc. "Talking About Child Sexual Abuse," National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, 1985.
(3) Rotzien and Hart, "Survey of Pastors and Counselors on Incest," Pasadena: and Gil, Vincent E., "In My Father's House: So. California College, Costa Mesa, CA.
(4) From Angels Among Us, Guidebook to film, California Department of Social Services.
The Problem in Context
The definition of neglect is relative to the standards of the society where it occurs. To be sure, there are parental failures, such as starving an infant, whose effects are so physical and, again, so obvious that abhorrence of them hardly seems a matter of culture. Yet, there have been communities as civilized as the Greeks in which damaged infants and unwanted daughters were simply left on hillsides to die of exposure. Americans, whose culture is so strongly influenced by the Judeo-Christian ethic, would regard such actions as more than neglect, as infanticide or child murder. Therefore, it is clear that any definition of neglect is culturally relative, and that the meaning in the United States, or even in one area of the United States, need not be the same as might apply elsewhere.
In the context of American society, the definition of neglect cannot stray too far from that which is acceptable to "most people," or Child Protective Service workers would not have community support behind them. Fortunately, despite a number of gray areas and ambiguities, there seems to be substantial agreement about what constitutes below standard child care. On "gut level" issues regarding child care, reactions of social workers are very similar to those of low-income, blue collar mothers; and the latter, in turn, are generally in surprising agreement with upper income and middle class mothers. While blue-collar mothers put more emphasis on physical care, there is also great similarity of opinion about emotional care and cognitive stimulation.
Although there is some consensus about what constitutes minimally adequate child care, because of the nature of American society there are limitations as to what professionals can do about neglectful parents; laws protect these families from unreasonable intrusion.
Definition of Neglect
Child neglect may be defined as a condition in which a caretaker responsible for the child either deliberately or by extraordinary inattentiveness permits the child to experience available present suffering and/or fails to provide one or more of the ingredients generally deemed essential for developing a person's physical, intellectual and emotional capacities.
Note: Every state has, in its child protection laws, a definition, often more specific than this general definition. The state's Attorney General's office or the Child Protective Services of the local Department of Social or Human Services can be contacted for a copy of the law for their state.
Dynamic View of the Neglectful Family
Many children have one parent who does not function well, but the slack in meeting their needs is picked up by the other parent, or by a substitute parent figure. The parents of the neglected child however, are much alike, so that if one is inadequate the other is likely to be also. In many cases, of course, children live with only one parent. Parental failure of a single parent can result in neglect.
It is generally accepted that in two parent situations both the physical and psychological care received by a child is determined in large part by the character structure of the mother and, to somewhat lesser extent, by that of the father. In most families, child care is still generally the responsibility of the mother. However, an inability to form interpersonal relationships is the most significant deficit in the fathers. This does not detract from or diminish admiration for parents who, despite poverty, inadequate and even dangerous housing, and a plethora of illnesses and emotional upsets, care for their children adequately. However, those identified as neglectful, whether they be a low, middle, or upper income family, are more vulnerable because of life-long traits; and their child care does, in fact, deteriorate.
It is often said that you cannot give love if you have never received it. Neglectful parents often report profound sadness over not having been loved or wanted by their own parents. Many have been in formal placement as children; even more have been given to relatives to rear for long periods of time. One mother's salient memory is hearing her mother say, "I cursed the day you were born." Such mothers started life lonely, and lonely is the way they live.
Characteristics of Neglectful Parents as Compared to
Neglectful parents are less:
Neglectful parents are more:
Indicators of Possible Child Neglect (1)
Note: The presence of any one, or even a few of the following indicators does not necessarily determine that the child is being neglected according to legal definition. However, the larger the number of indicators present, the more likelihood there is of neglect. Clergy are, of course, encouraged to be alert for indicators in children with whom they come in contact.
Child's Appearance and Activities
(1) Child Abuse Handbook for Professionals. ICAN, Los Angeles County, (April 1986).
Definition of Child Physical Abuse
The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect defines child physical abuse as:
"The physical injury or maltreatment of a child under the age of eighteen by a person who is responsible for the child's welfare under circumstances which indicate that the child's health or welfare is harmed or threatened thereby..." (1)
Note: Every state has, in its child protection laws, a definition, often more specific than this general definition. The state's Attorney General's office or the Child Protective Services of the local Department of Social or Human Services can be contacted for a copy of the law for their state.
A Comment About Definitions
Dr. Phil Quinn, formerly a severely battered and abused child, now director of ICARE, a child advocacy organization in Hermitage, TN, makes the following, rather sardonic comment:
"The problem of defining exactly what constitutes child abuse is a difficult and perhaps insurmountable one, particularly in a culture which condones the use of violence in recreation, discipline, and relationships. A society rooted in violence, even against children.
"The debate rages on and children continue to die. Few surviving victims of severe child abuse would have as much difficulty defining it." (2)
The issues of discipline and punishment always arise in any consideration of child physical abuse because this is the primary justification given as reason to beat, burn or cut a child.
For this reason there will follow a separate consideration of corporal punishment or discipline, particularly in the light of Biblical injunctions concerning the use of the rod. However, a statement on the subject by the Medical Director of a Child Protection Team in a Florida Regional Medical Center seems to fit, more appropriately in this definition section.
"For children in abusive families, 'discipline' is neither educational nor constructive. It does not teach proper behavior attitudes. It simply produces injury -- either physical or emotional -- that frequently requires some sort of medical intervention. 'Disciplinary' actions that leave marks are abusive actions." (3)
Indicators of Possible Physical Child Abuse (4)
Note: The presence of any one, or even a few of the following indicators does not necessarily determine that the child is being physically abused according to legal definition. (The possibility of accidental injury must always be kept in mind.) However, the larger the number of indicators present, the more likelihood there is of physical abuse. Clergy are, of course, encouraged to be alert for indicators in children with whom they come in contact.
(1) Public Law 93-37.
(2) Quinn, Phil, Cry Out, Abingdon Press, Nashville.
(3) Tokarski, Penny, M.D., Orlando, Florida: Abuse and Religion, Lexington Books.
(4) Child Abuse Handbook for Professionals, ICAN, Los Angeles Co., California.
Although the phrase, "Spare the rod and spoil the child," is not a Biblical text, there is no doubt that it reflects the meaning of two or three of the strongest Biblical Proverbs on child rearing.
These passages from the book of Proverbs read, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him." (1) "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him." (2) "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. If you beat him with the rod you will save his life from Sheol" ("soul from hell" Authorized KJV). (3)
All other Biblical texts which speak of child rearing, with the possible exception of Hebrews 12:6 which speaks of "chastising" (scourging" in the Authorized KJV), use more general, positive terms such as "discipline," "nurture" and "train up."
There are those texts that would even seem to contradict the Proverbs texts, a primary example being Ephesians 6:4, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord."
Professionals who daily must deal with child physical abuse uniformly speak of the fact that most physical abuse results from attempts to punish or control the child, which attempt has escalated to produce physical harm. For this reason, many are concerned when religions, on the basis of the above quoted passages, advocate the use of the rod.
One pediatrician who works with physically abused children in hospital emergency room situations has said, "I do not understand that quote from Proverbs which says, 'If you beat him with a rod he will not die.' The fact is, many do die."
All Biblical scholars, including fundamental Christian teachers, know that, on the surface, at least, there are apparent contradictions between various sections and books of scripture. However, the fundamental scholar, who believes in the literal inerrancy of the entire Biblical text, will resolve these by pointing out the differences of time, place and dispensation.
In the case of potential child abuse by physical beating, it becomes extremely important that such scholars do resolve these apparent discrepancies. Perhaps this could be done by pointing to the "New Covenant" emphasis upon the positive teachings which follow the model of Jesus' treatment of children, or of the apostle Paul's definition of love in I Corinthians 13. (Note: the reference here has been to Christian scholarship. It is of
interest that there seems not to be as much emphasis on these "use of the rod" passages as justification for corporal punishment in the Jewish tradition which gave us these Proverbs.)
It is not the place of this discussion to deal with theological issues, however. The manner in which this is resolved theologically must be left to each minister, priest, rabbi or imam. The following information from various individuals who have seriously considered the issue of corporal punishment and physical child abuse is given only as information which may be helpful to those seeking a non-abusive interpretation. (4)
The Concerns Of:
A MEDICAL DOCTOR, DIRECTOR OF A CHILD PROTECTION TEAM:
"For children in abusive families, 'discipline' is neither educational nor constructive. It does not teach proper behavior or attitudes. It simply produces an injury -- either physical or emotional -- that frequently requires some sort of medical intervention. 'Disciplinary' actions that leave marks are abusive actions...
"Professionals today have come to realize that the problem is far more complex and varied. In one case the parent and the child may not be acting 'on the same wavelength.' In another the child may be the 'target child' in the family -- singled out for physical and verbal abuse. In still another a victim may crave attention to the point of misbehaving in order to receive it.
"In just as much of need of nurturing, the abusing caretaker may see the child as a reflection of himself or herself, or believe the child deliberately misbehaves to defy authority. It has been shown that abusing parents are frequently treating their children as they were treated during childhood. Although they may be 'regular people,' and not psychopaths, they may still be socially detached or depressed, have a poor self-concept, and be stressed with marital problems, financial difficulties, or substance abuse. Placing such an adult with such a child in a situation of stress or crisis often results in injuries." (5)
A DIRECTOR, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CENTER
"Not all child abusers are Christian and not all Christians are child abusers. But a surprisingly high number of cases of reported child abuse occur in Christian families. Moreover, the abuser often bases the justification of their behavior on Christianity. A father, when confronted by state child protection workers resisted their assistance and said, 'What do you mean I can't beat my child? I'm a Christian.' This Christian father, who had paddled his child with such force that he caused injury, had not sought help to control his anger and violence. He had been taught his responsibility as a parent involves the regular use of corporal punishment and had used it to the extent that it was abusive. Herein lies the problem." (6)
In a study of 230 graduate students, psychologist Goodwin Watson found that students who had rated their parents in the top quarter as to punitiveness and strictness revealed the following in extensive self-reports of their emotional health.
"More hatred and restraint toward their parents
More rejection of their teachers
Poorer relations with their classmates
More quarrels with friends
More unsatisfactory love affairs
More worry and anxiety
More unhappiness and crying
More dependence on parents" (7)
A PARENTING TEACHER
"... In direct contrast to the conventional and 'common sense' belief of parents that punishment must be used to prevent aggressive behavior of children, the evidence clearly indicates the opposite -- namely, harsh punishment actually promotes aggression.
"Physical punishment literally trains youngsters to be aggressive and to use violence themselves. Thus, every generation learns to be violent from the previous generation. Consider these frightening findings from a survey by Straus, Gelles & Steinmetz, 1980:
"Nearly 100% of children whose parents used a lot of physical punishment had severely assaulted a brother or sister, as compared to only 20% of children whose parents did not use physical punishment.
"Husbands who had experienced severe violence at home as children have a 600% greater rate of wife-beating than husbands who came from non-violent homes." (8)
"A study conducted in Oregon showed a positive correlation between school vandalism and corporal punishment. Schools using more physical punishment had more vandalism; those using less physical punishment had less vandalism." (9) (10)
A CHRISTIAN WRITER, D.MIN.
"The debate about whether spanking is discipline or punishment has raged for centuries and continues today. Its proponents argue that it teaches the unpleasant consequences of certain behavior and thereby serves as a deterrent to repeated misbehavior. To the extent that it teaches children to control themselves, it is discipline, they say.
"There can be no doubt that spanking can 'work.' Pain is an incredibly effective motivator. Violence gives immediate short-term control. And this is what most parents want when they are looking for something 'that works.'
"But hitting teaches children some very important lessons about human relationships. It teaches that some hitting is acceptable -- but not all hitting. It teaches that is OK for big people to hit little people -- but it is not OK for little people to hit back. It also teaches a definition of parental love: Parents who love their children hit them.
"Many hidden problems inherent in spanking can have a serious impact upon the lives of children, their families, and society in general. There are as many definitions of spanking as there are people who do it. Parents tend to define spanking by their own experience. If what they are doing falls within the range of their own childhood experience, then -- regardless of its severity or effect upon the child -- it is not child abuse." (11)
There are alternative parenting possibilities which nurture and discipline, but are not punitive and do not create the danger of escalation into physical child abuse. Information on these parenting programs may be obtained from local child abuse and child advocacy agencies, parenting programs, colleges and universities. One of these models contains a Biblical component for those with this orientation who are interested in alternatives.
(1) Proverbs 13:24 (RSV)
(2) Proverbs 22:15 (RSV)
(3) Proverbs 23:13, 15 (RSV)
(4) Delaplane, David. The Spiritual Dimension in Victim Services, Denver, Colorado
(5) Tokarski, Penny, M.D. Abuse and Religion, Lexington Books, 1988.
(6) Fortune, Marie. "A Commentary," Center for Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, Seattle, Washington.
(7) Watson, G.A. Journal of Social Psychology, 1984: 5, 102, 105.
(8) Straus, M., Gelles, R., and Steinmetz, S., Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family. New York: Anchor Books, 1980.
(9) Hyman, I., McDowell, E., and Raines, B. "Corporal Punishment and Alternatives in Schools," Inequality in Education, 1975: 23, 5-20.
(10) Gordon, Thomas, "Crippling Our Children with Discipline," Boston University: Journal of Education, Volume 163, #3, Summer 1981.
(11) Quinn, Phil D. Min., Spare the Rod, Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tennessee.
A Major Issue for Clergy
Clergy need only be reminded of the extensiveness of the incidence of child sexual assault to realize how important it is for them to have some understanding of this subject. Although, because of the nature of this crime, there may never be a totally definitive statistic, ongoing studies continue to confirm the long-standing ratio that approximately 1 in 4 girls and approximately 1 in 7 (reduced from 1 in 10 through further disclosure of male sexual abuse) will have been sexually molested before the age of 18.
This certainly means that clergy and congregational lay leaders will come in contact with the issue often, either as a present event, or in difficulties experienced by adults who were molested as children. It has been the experience of those working in the field that whenever a minister, priest, rabbi, or imam indicates that he or she has given some attention to the subject, immediate divulgence comes forth from members of the congregation. (NOTE: this is also true in the case of spousal abuse.) The challenge to minister to this need is great.
Definition of Child Sexual Abuse
National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect defines child sexual assault as:
". . . Contacts or interactions between a child and an adult when the child is being used for sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or another person when the perpetrator or another person is in a position of power or control over the victim."
NOTE: Every state has, in its child protection laws, a definition, often more specific than this general definition. The state's Attorney General's office or the Child Protective Services of the local Department of Social or Human Services can be contacted for a copy of the law for their state.
Sexual abuse of children is often hidden in the corners of family life and social relationships -- with outsiders (strangers who attack, molest, or harass) less often involved. In a New England survey by David Finkelhor about one-third of victims were molested by a relative, another one-third by an acquaintance. (1) In a paper presented to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. M. Rimsza has estimated only 10% victimization by strangers (25% family/relative, 60% close acquaintance -- neighbor, baby-sitter, friend of the family, etc.) (2). Various other surveys paint a similar picture: "... 50% to 80% of child sexual abuse victims are abused by people they know; and parents or other relatives account for 30% to 50% of the reported cases." (3) (4)
There are people in our society who prey on children sexually. Many of these people go to great lengths to get themselves into positions that give them access to and authority over children, and then use that position to victimize children. For such people, the betrayal of the trust put in them is secondary to the pleasure of sexual conquest, even over very young children. No congregation is immune from these people, who may outwardly appear to be very appropriate choices for church or sabbath school volunteers or employees.
Even though the higher percentage of molestation is by someone known to the victim, it is very important for clergy in particular to give careful attention to the fixated offender, the pedophile. This person's primary sexual attraction is toward children, either sex. The pedophile will go to almost any length to have sexual experiences with such children.
Single mothers are particularly vulnerable to the designs of the pedophile. This person will offer to be a friend to the child participating in sports, taking on hiking trips, etc. The mother, anxious for the children to have a male image, often readily goes along with these offers from "such a nice person." The fixated pedophile is "very good" to the child as one might expect in pursuing a sexual experience. There is some grooming behavior.
It is possible that a pedophile tends to be attracted to a child of the particular age at which he, himself, was molested as a child. For this reason he may "go through" a family victimizing each child as he or she passes through that particular age window.
The reason for the importance of this information to clergy is that churches, mosques, temples and synagogues are very vulnerable to the advances of the pedophile. Congregations function on volunteer help, youth workers, Sunday, Sabbath school and C.C.D. teachers, nursery assistants, etc. This individual will volunteer for these positions in order to get at the children. Interestingly enough churches, temples and synagogues become targets because of the frequent tendency of leadership to not be as observant, or to deal with "messy" issues "in-house" if they are exposed. Also, in many cases there is reluctance to prosecute a religious institution or worker. All of this speaks to the importance of screening volunteers.
Some simple rules reduce a congregation's vulnerability to pedophiles. Putting windows in classrooms and their doors makes classes safer, as does a policy of keeping the door open. Always have more than one adult involved with youth events. This is particularly important for off-campus activities. Supervisory leadership can make a habit of dropping into classes and youth events.
Oversee counseling situations so that counselors have a context in which to discuss their activity. Many counselors are including a second person, sometimes a spouse, in the counseling environment. Windows and open doors can also help keep counseling environments from being totally unmonitored. Without such protection, individual leaders can be vulnerable to false accusations. Both youth and their leaders need a safe environment. None of these protections should be offered out of fear. Rather, suggest them as a way of building a more trustworthy environment for everyone involved.
The single most important protection against pedophiles in a church is to insist on screening all church staff and volunteers when they first assume responsibilities with youth. This will seem excessive and distasteful to some at first, but if asked from everyone, no stigma is attached to anyone. Implementing a successful screening policy not only protects children, but also the church, temple, mosque or synagogue. If abuse occurs and the case goes to court, congregational leadership will be asked how youth ministers and volunteer leaders were screened. If screening was not considered, the legal, financial exposure is much greater.
Screening of Volunteers
The following pages represent one church's attempt to design a screening program and is used by permission from the Arvada Covenant Church in Arvada, Colorado. The screening policy is part of a larger program aimed at reducing abuse and increasing safety for children at church.
To prevent the occurrence of abuse at church-sponsored activities and programs, all volunteers working with individuals under the age of 21 will be carefully screened and trained. They will be required to adhere to specific procedures.
1. Letter to all current ministry volunteers outlining our reasons for procedures will be provided.
2. All ministry volunteers will be required to fill out an application form completely, which will be kept in complete confidentiality by authorized personnel.
3. All references must be checked and dated.
4. Personal interviews will be conducted of ministry volunteers by pastoral staff who are responsible for said area.
5. Written job descriptions will be provided for volunteers including "contact code procedures" and be signed and dated by all ministry volunteers and pastoral staff.
6. Pastoral staff members will periodically monitor classes and outside church-sponsored activities in order to provide support and accountability to volunteer ministry staff.
Mandatory attendance at training sessions will be required of all ministry volunteers.
Training will include but is not limited to:
A. The issue of house/reporting procedures
B. Orientation of all policies and procedures
C. Classroom discipline
D. First aid/safety
We thank you for filling out this form. Please keep in mind that acceptance of this form does not constitute a contract of employment nor is it a commitment to the applicant.
BASIC INFORMATION: (please print)
Telephone ( ) ______________________________________________________
Date of Birth _________ Driver's License # _______________ S.S. # ____________
Have you ever used a surname other than indicated? _________ If yes, state name and
LIST SIGNIFICANT PREVIOUS WORK INVOLVING CHILDREN/YOUTH:
Role Church Location
List additional experience and education preparing you for work with children/youth.
Why are you willing to serve in this area of ministry? _________________________
Are there any physical or personal factors which might impede your full participation in the program (physical limitations, family, professional, person responsibilities). Please explain: ________________________________________________________
PLEASE LIST THREE PERSONAL REFERENCES:
___ ___________________________________________Telephone ______________
REFERENCES CHECKS: (office use only)
_______________________________________ Date ________ By _____________
_______________________________________ Date ________ By _____________
_______________________________________ Date ________ By _____________
_______________________________________ Date ________ By _____________
REFERENCE: Pastor of current home church _______________________________
Address _________________________________ Telephone __________________
Please give a brief testimony of how God has led you to this point in your life.
While it is not our intent to unnecessarily pry into your personal life, we are legally responsible to ask some questions concerning your background. Your response will be held in strictest confidentiality.
Have you ever been convicted of a crime? (Yes or No) _______ If you have been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic offense, please state the following: nature of conviction, date, sentence received, sentence served, including date and location, probation or parole office, and any other facts or circumstances you wish to provide.
Have you ever been convicted of child abuse or a crime involving actual or attempted sexual molestation of a minor? No ______ Yes ______ If yes, please explain.
I certify that the above information and statements are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I understand that any misstatement or material omission from this application may result in my disqualification from consideration for a position and may be the basis for termination of my services. I agree to be bound by the constitution, bylaws, and policies of this church in the performances of my services in its behalf.
I authorize this church or its agents to undertake any investigation it deems appropriate in our constitution, bylaws, and policies in the performance of my services on behalf of the church in connection with this application, including all listed references.
Name (please print): ___________________________________________________
Applicants signature: _________________________________ Date ______________
If registered worker is under 18 years of age, the following must be completed:
Parent/guardian Name (please print): _______________________________________
NOTE: The masculine pronoun is used to describe the incest offender throughout this section. This is because there is a higher number of male perpetrators than female. This does not imply that there are no female perpetrators. In fact, it appears that either the number of female perpetrators is increasing or that there are now more reports of female offenders.
On the basis of major demographic characteristics most perpetrators cannot be distinguished from non-offenders. Incest occurs amongst those of all socioeconomic classes, all levels of education, all occupations, all races and all religions.
The difference between incest offenders and others is simply that, whether faced with stress, or simply for personal gratification, they seek emotional outlet through sexual activity with their children.
Often incest offenders are authoritarian, with a very rigid belief structure. They tend to want to be in control. Christian offenders may use the "head of the house" scriptures as a basis for allowing them to do anything they want with both spouse and children.
Such an offender's very rigid belief system may not allow even for such socialization as dancing or other social interchange with the opposite sex. This can aggravate his already existing tendency to use sex as an instrument of power as well as an emotional outlet. He then must keep his sexual experience within the confines of his own area of control -- his home. Feeling insecure or inadequate, with perhaps marriage difficulties as well, he will seek to find gratification with his children.
Often he has inner feelings of helplessness, vulnerability and dependency. When daily stressors of marriage, parenthood and vocation are added to long standing insecurities and to the breakdown of other coping mechanisms, incest occurs.
Because this is both pleasurable and a release, the offender, like any other addict, becomes dependent on sexual activity to meet his emotional needs. Actually incest can be defined as sexual misuse of power. The incest experience may be used to resolve a variety of problems not related to the sensual aspects of sex. There may be issues related to competency, adequacy, worth, recognition, validation, status, affiliation and identity.
The nature of any addiction is that the experience used to create a desired mood becomes a central focus of the addict's life. This is true of sexual addiction. The compulsion for sexual behavior pervades the consciousness.
The addiction begins with a delusional thought process, often fortified with rationalization. These thoughts create justification for the act. The addict does
not always perceive on the conscious level that he is engaging in this type of activity because of other issues, such as stress, insecurity, low self-esteem or need for control. However, these factors are usually contributory. Yet he does consciously create the climate for deviant sexual behavior first at the level of thought, enhancing the impulse. The Proverb, "... as a man thinks in his heart so is he" (5), is certainly appropriate to consider. First the thought.
There are several faulty self concepts which the sexual addict maintains. Two that are primary are: (1) that his needs are never going to be met by depending on others, (2) that sex is his most important need. These may arise from a lack of self-esteem wherein the addict feels that he is bad or unworthy, and that no one could love him as he is.
The four-step cycle of addiction intensifies with each repetition. These steps are:
1. Preoccupation Sex is a primary element in his thinking process. Every encounter is seen from a sexual perspective.
2. Ritualization The thoughts and acts that lead up to sexual behavior are consistent and repetitive. The "ritual" acts intensify the preoccupation with sex, and trigger arousal and excitement.
Acting Out This is the act which has been the objective of the ritual acts leading to the behavior. At this point powerlessness to stop becomes a reality. Previous resolves are forgotten or ignored. There is loss of control, or of any inhibitor. This "out-of-controlness" is the reason for identification of the individual as an addict.
4. Regret, sorrow,
despair The hopeless feeling of powerlessness is often accompanied by a resolve to never do it again... but he does.
The Progression of the Act
There are usually several stages in the process of sexual victimization of children.
1. The Approach
Child sexual abuse (molestation) is an intentional activity. The first requirement (with rare exceptions) is that the offender be alone with the child.
The child is often induced into being alone with the perpetrator by his suggestion of some activity like playing a game. It should be kept in mind that the greatest number of child molestations are by someone known to the child. Even in cases of "strangers" (those outside the family context) the offender, after becoming acquainted with the mother or caretaker, may offer to spend some time with the child in sports, a trip to the zoo or museum.
The initial approach, coming from an adult who may be the father, step-father, or another known person, who says it is okay, usually results in a favorable response. This is because children tend to accept adult authority, particularly that of adults close to them. In such cases the warnings about not talking with strangers does not seem relevant.
One exception to this trust factor on the part of the child is when the child has been molested, and this is a repeat request. In this event the child may back off, but by then the "secret," with accompanying warnings, has already been established.
The game itself turns out to be "our little secret." It is presented as a very special game. It may take the form of, "Look at my penis. Do you want to touch it? It's fun, isn't it? When we are finished we'll go out and have an ice cream," or some such similar approach.
There is, unfortunately, another method which does not involve this kind of fun and gentleness. Force, intimidation, threats and duress are used by some less skilled, or by some deviant perpetrators. In these cases the threat may be taken very seriously by the child because of her/his having seen force used on the mother or another in the family. Although sexual molestation, regardless of the method of approach, is very confusing and traumatic to the child, the forced molestation results in extreme trauma because of the additional intense fear factor.
2. Sexual Interaction
Child molestation, like other addictive behaviors, is progressive. It may start with touching or fondling, but can progress to some form of penetration -- vaginal, oral, anal...or all three.
Keeping the secret is absolutely necessary in order to avoid consequences and to allow continued availability of the victim. The longer the secret is held, the longer the behavior is able to continue. The offender usually knows that this conduct is against the law, and is, therefore, not adverse to telling the child that bad things will happen if the secret gets out. Violent offenders may be more specific, telling the child that bad things will happen to her/him if the secret is told. Many wonder why children do not tell. This threat aspect is the reason.
Children will usually keep the secret unless the confusion and pain is too great, or unless it is accidentally revealed. Many never tell, or do not disclose the secret until years later. To some, the experience is so shameful and traumatic that they actually forget (or block) the experiences. When other problems arise in adulthood, therapists often find, to the surprise of the victim, that childhood molestation which was blocked is at the root of the present problems.
Often disclosure is not voluntary. It may come through an unintentional slip of the child. She/he may tell a playmate, a day care provider, a Sunday or Sabbath school teacher, or other teacher or caretaker without intending to. Or disclosure may come by observation. There are many indicators of possible sexual assault (see below). The presence of a number of these could cause suspicion. It is here that perceptive observation by the clergy and other congregational staff of their children in day care or Sunday or Sabbath school is extremely important.
There are cases where the disclosure is voluntary. The small child may be so traumatized, or in such confusion that she/he must get it out. The child may do this in stages, or indirectly by making it sound like the molestation is happening to someone else. Or she/he may just drop a word or two about it in the middle of a completely unrelated conversation. It is very important to hear these words and, without any emotional reaction (a very difficult assignment), to draw the child out further. If there is strong reaction on the part of the adult listener, the child's fear may cause her/him to close down.
When a child molestation victim reaches adolescence, she/he may, because of the dynamics of puberty, teenage relationships, and other adolescent issues, be so distraught by the ongoing molestation that she/he will voluntarily disclose. Disclosure will often be to the non-offending parent or to a trust member of the family, or, in some cases it may even be to the authorities.
Whether the disclosure is voluntary or involuntary, there will be immediate reactions ranging from denial and hostility to a desire to protect and obtain help. The first line of defense for the offender is, of course, denial. This can be very strong and convincing. There is a lot at stake. There are severe consequences to admission (but,
it should be added, more severe if not admitted and later found to be true by the courts). There is the possibility of publicity, loss of reputation, criminal charges, financial difficulties and marital and family breakdown. These give strong motivation for the offender to lie.
Thus, the offender may, in his position as an adult authority, attempt to undermine the victim's account. In a debate between an articulate adult and a child, the child, unless believed, can often come out the loser... in more ways than one.
Non-offending spouses, on the other hand, must deal with important issues also. The first is whether to believe the alleged offender. If the allegations are accepted as true, in addition to the above listed consequences, she must deal with the possible loss of financial security, the possibility of having to testify against her husband or partner and, perhaps even being victimized herself by physical or other forms of retaliation.
Also, the non-offending spouse may feel guilt for not protecting the child. In the process of looking the other way for fear it might be true, she may have known and yet not known. Always the question in the minds of everyone involved in the disclosure phase is, "How will I be affected by this?"
This leads to, perhaps, the most important question of all -- to report or not report. In the case of involuntary disclosure, the suspicion of child molestation may have been by someone who is mandated by law to report. In this case, the decision is taken out of the hands of the family members.
Although it is very difficult to see the law, social services or the courts involved, reporting can be a very positive step toward resolution of the problem. First and foremost, reporting will involve those who can protect the victim. In addition, coming from this action is accountability and the possibility of treatment for the victim and, often for the offender, particularly if admission and cooperation is forthcoming.
Clergy can play a very important part in this by reporting if they suspect child abuse; by encouraging the offender to overcome denial and seek treatment (this option cannot be guaranteed, but is much more likely if the offender does admit the crime and ask for help), and by assisting all parties involved through the system, keeping the welfare of the victim as a paramount concern.
A TRUE STORY
A minister was called in to counsel a family where child sexual assault had been disclosed. The offender acknowledged that he had molested the daughter. He seemed repentant. The pastor counseled with him regarding stopping the activity, and did not report the incident either to law enforcement or the child protective services. Four
years later the young woman, by then an adolescent, made a dramatic suicide attempt, and was nearly successful.
When asked in the hospital why she had tried to take her life, she told of the molestation, which had not stopped. To the next question, "Had she ever told someone about it?" she replied, "Yes, the minister." His failure to report had nearly cost a life.
It should be noted that this is one example of a serious oversight by a very conscientious minister. Many clergy do follow through positively in protecting the child.
Note: A detailed coverage of the necessity of, and all that is involved in, reporting begins on page 72.
It is very common, in view of all of the problems surrounding disclosure, for all parties involved to attempt, or at least consider suppression. Even in the less likely event of the offender being an outsider, there is the strong temptation to try to avoid publicity and intervention. This is often done by minimization -- the attitude that, "It's not as big a deal as all that. She'll soon get over it." But she won't.
As the victim, the offender and the non-offending parent or family member become involved in the investigation and the court process, the offender may very well seek to discredit the child by pointing out both factual and fictitious faults of the victim. These may be such things as the victim's difficulty in school (which is not unusual for a victim of molestation) or her/his tendency to lie. This can cause a child, who may already be having problems with guilt, to feel isolated. She/he may simply stop cooperating with the investigation. The child might even change her story to get back into good graces.
6. Repression or Recovery
This is the choice. If the child sexual assault is suppressed, some surface adjustments may be made and life will go on as before. In most cases, "as before" will involve all that went on before, including the continued molestation. Having gotten away with it, the offender may begin to molest another child as well. The dysfunction is perpetuated.
Moving toward recovery, perhaps initially the more difficult alternative, is by all standards the preferred choice. Treatment of both the child victim, who has been severely damaged, and of the offender, who struggles with deep-seated psychological difficulties, is long and difficult. More often than not, treatment will last up to two years and possibly more. Often the specter of being required to return to court if treatment is not maintained is the only incentive that will keep the offender in treatment.
If those involved will not give up when things "die down" or appear "normal" again, the reward of a young person's not having to live with this darkness, and of the offender's finally acknowledging and dealing with his problem, is worth it all.
Indicators of Possible Child Sexual Abuse (6)
Note: The presence of any one, or even a few of the following indicators, does not necessarily determine that the child is being sexually abused according to legal definition. However, the larger the number of indicators present, the more likelihood there is of sexual abuse. Clergy are, of course, encouraged to be alert for indicators in children with whom they come in contact.
(1) Finkelhor, D., Sexually Victimized Children, New York, Free Press.
(2) Rimsza, M., "Paper to American Academy of Pediatrics," (March 1984).
(3) Brassard, M., Tyler, A., and Kehle, T., "Sexually Abused Children: Identification and Suggestions for Intervention," School Psychology Review, 1983: 12, 93-97.
(4) Knight, Doug, "Pain and Trouble: The Effects of Sexual Abuse on Children," California: Youth Authority. Sacramento, California.
(5) Proverbs 23:7
(6) Child Abuse Handbook for Professionals, ICAN, Los Angeles County, California.
Definition of Child Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse or maltreatment is the most difficult of the four forms of abuse to identify and substantiate. The two primary reasons for the difficulty are:
The Interdisciplinary Glossary on Child Abuse and Neglect (2) draws a distinction between emotional abuse and emotional neglect:
The definition given by Dr. James Garbarino, Edna Guttmann and Janis Wilson Seeley in their definitive work on what they refer to as the psychologically abused child, does not specifically make the distinction between emotional abuse and emotional neglect.
Their comments and definitional categories in the following paragraphs are extremely valuable in consideration of child emotional abuse.
"Rather than casting psychological maltreatment as an ancillary issue, subordinate to other forms of abuse and neglect, we should place it as the centerpiece of efforts to understand family functioning and to protect children. In almost all cases, it is the psychological consequences of an act that defines that act as abusive. This is true of physical abuse (consider, for example, the meaning to a child of an injury inflicted by a parent in rage compared with the same 'injury' inflicted by accident in the course of an athletic event, recreation, or even medical attention); it is also true of sexual abuse (since sexual acts have little or no intrinsic meaning apart from their social psychological connotations -- as the incredible variety of norms regarding sexual activity in childhood and adolescence across cultures suggests).
"As investigators who have carefully explored families involved in maltreatment report, rarely does one form of maltreatment occur alone (physical abuse without psychological abuse; sexual assault in the absence of emotional threat). When one form of maltreatment does exist in isolation from others, it is likely to be psychological in nature. Rarely if ever does a child experience physical abuse or neglect, or sexual assault or exploitation, in a relationship that is positive and nurturing. Indeed, even to pose the matter in such terms seems ridiculous.
"In our definition, psychological maltreatment is a concerted attack by an adult on a child's development of self and social competence, a pattern of psychically destructive behavior, and it takes five forms:
1. Rejecting (the adult refuses to acknowledge the child's worth and the legitimacy of the child's needs).
2. Isolating (the adult cuts the child off from normal social experiences, prevents the child from forming friendships, and makes the child believe that he or she is alone in the world).
3. Terrorizing (the adult verbally assaults the child, creates a climate of fear, bullies and frightens the child, and makes the child believe that the world is capricious and hostile).
4. Ignoring (the adult deprives the child of essential stimulation and responsive-ness, stifling emotional growth and intellectual development).
5. Corrupting (the adult 'mis-socializes' the child, stimulates the child to engage in destructive antisocial behavior, reinforces that deviance, and makes the child unfit for normal social experience).
"These are basic threats to human development. Psychological maltreatment is the core issue in the broader picture of abuse and neglect. It provides the unifying theme and is the critical aspect in the overwhelming majority of what appear as physical and sexual maltreatment cases..." (4)
Continuum of Parental Behavior
Emotional abuse can be viewed on a continuum of parental behavior.
Positive Parental Behaviors, e.g.,
Praising, attention, affection
Negative Parental Behaviors, e.g.,
Yelling, name calling, ignoring
Emotional Maltreatment, e.g.,
consistent negative behaviors, a pattern of rejecting and threatening behaviors, and bizarre punishment or discipline
At one extreme we have positive parental actions... As we move toward the center of the continuum we have negative parental behaviors... Finally, at the opposite extreme we have emotional abuse.
Therefore, occasional negative parental behaviors, are not typically considered emotional abuse because they may be countered by positive parental behavior leaving no or minimal long-lasting effect on the child. Emotional abuse, then, is characterized by a consistent pattern of negative parental behaviors or occasional forms of bizarre punishment; for example, locking a child in a closet for two days, which has a long-lasting harmful effect on a child. (5)
An Alternate Listing of Forms of Emotional Abuse
Another listing of the forms which child emotional abuse takes include some of the areas covered in Garbarino, et al's listing above. This second list is added, however, because it contains some variation and enhancement.
These four forms of maltreatment may affect children in different ways. The available research suggests that:
Parental Behavior as a Specific Indicator
One of the difficulties in identifying or substantiating emotional maltreatment is that the symptoms are the same in emotionally maltreated and emotionally disturbed children. Observing parental behavior can help in distinguishing between emotional disturbance and maltreatment.
The parents of an emotionally disturbed child generally recognize the existence of a problem; whereas the parents of an emotionally abused child often blame the child for the problem or ignore its existence. The parents of an emotionally disturbed child show concern about the child's welfare and actively seek help, whereas the parents of an emotionally abused child often refuse offers of help and appear unconcerned about the child's welfare. (7)
Dr. James Garbarino of the Erikson Institute, who has made an extensive study of emotional maltreatment, identified some characteristics that parents who emotionally maltreat their children may have:
To summarize, there are four criteria that can help guide decisions about whether action is justified to protect a child from emotional maltreatment. These criteria help differentiate emotional maltreatment from ineffective or even occasionally harmful parental behaviors toward children.
1. First, emotional maltreatment is a behavior that has an effect on the child. It causes mental or emotional injury.
2. Second, the effect can be observed in the child's abnormal performance and behavior. Although we may speculate that the child is silently storing away his/her feelings for an explosion later in life, we cannot legitimately identify "symptomless" emotional abuse.
3. Third, the effect is long-lasting. The child's intellectual and/or psychological capacity is affected by the abuse. By implication, this means that the parent's behavior toward the child is probably chronic; the child's reaction is more than temporary unhappiness or angry acting out.
4. Fourth, the effect of the emotional abuse constitutes a handicap to the child. It causes substantial impairment of the child's ability to function as a person -- to think, learn, maintain lasting relationships, and find satisfaction in personal endeavors. (8)
Indicators of Possible Emotional Maltreatment
Note: The presence of any one, or even a few of the following indicators does not necessarily determine that the child is being emotionally abused according to legal definition. However, the larger the number of indicators present, the more likelihood there is of emotional abuse. Clergy are, of course, encouraged to be alert for indicators in children with whom they come in contact.
Emotional abuse is more susceptible to positive spiritual ministry than perhaps any other form of abuse or victimization. It has been said, "When love touches the hurt, healing begins." And the people of God, more than any other are, or should be, the carriers of love. Certainly this is true of those who practice the precepts of their faith. Proper attention to this need by our congregations could be one of the most fruitful in their attempts at life changing efforts.
(1) Navy Family Advocacy Program, Curriculum for Chaplains, Armed Services YMCA.
(2) National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, 1978
(3) Garbarino, J., Guttmann, E., and Seeley, J.W., The Psychologically Battered Child, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1986.
(5) Op Cit. Note 1 above.
(9) Child Abuse Handbook for Professionals, ICAN, Los Angeles County, California.
Billy and Mary had been brought to Sunday School by friends during the new member contest. Their clothes were unkempt, and they had obviously not been washed or bathed for some time. When they "wolfed down" cookies, a handful at a time during the refreshment period, their Sunday School teacher suspected that they might be more hungry than merely impolite.
The next Sunday she brought some extra food and slipped it to them. This they also hungrily devoured. She then determined to visit the home "to let the parents know how pleased she was that the children were attending." The small house appeared to not have been cleaned or picked up for weeks. A three-year-old sister, whom she had never seen, was crying on a cot in the corner. The older sister, Mary, was trying to help. No adults were in sight. Billy said that they did not know where their father was. They had not seen him in a long time. Their mother was out with her "boyfriend." "She always was," he said. The Sunday School teacher reported all of this to the pastor.
Child Physical Abuse
The six-year-old boy, having been let off early at the church day care center, was accidently sprayed by the automatic lawn sprinkler. The attendant, in removing the outer clothing to dry it, noticed severe welts across the back of the child's legs. She then began to understand why this child seemed to cower (like a whipped puppy) when an adult suddenly came close to him. She reported it to the director of the center, who, in turn reported it to the pastor.
Child Sexual Abuse
A woman of the congregation tells the minister that she is concerned about a rather dramatic behavior change in her five-year-old daughter. The little girl was always outgoing and happy, but over the past few months has become withdrawn and secretive. When asked if she would like to tell her mother anything, tears welled and she fearfully said, "no." The previous day she had touched the older brother's genital area and used a sexual term which she would not have been expected to know or understand.
Child Emotional Abuse
A teenager, being admitted to Juvenile Hall after committing a drug-related crime, told the counselor, "I don't care. I'm no good anyway." When asked what made him think he was no good he responded, "That's what my mom and old man always told me. They said, 'they wished I had never been born,' and 'Why didn't I just get out of their lives?" "Ever since I was born," he continued, "they've told me that I was just in the way."
The following Sunday the counselor spoke of the incident in the adult Sunday school class. His question... "What can I say to this young man? Are people basically good or bad?"
For the protection of their children, both the federal government and the states now have mandated child abuse reporting laws. Professionals, who in the course of their daily activity come in contact with children, are required to report suspected child abuse.
The particular professionals who are mandated to report varies from state to state, but generally include physicians and surgeons, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family counselors, other mental health therapists, educators (in both public and private schools), including administrators and teachers, teachers' aids and other staff; day care providers and staff, foster parents, group home personnel, departments of human or social services, and law enforcement personnel.
What about clergy and religious workers?
There is a difference between states on the issue of requiring clergy and religious workers to report. Some states do mandate their reporting. Others, because of the "seal of confidentiality," exempt clergy from reporting. The federal statute does not include military chaplains as mandated reporters.
It should be kept in mind, however, that even where clergy, as clergy, are exempt, if they are also practicing one of the other professions (e.g., Christian school or a day care administrator, or marriage and family counselor, etc.) they are, regardless of their status as clergy, mandated to report.
Clergy should be familiar with the requirements of the law in their state. This information may be obtained from the state's attorney general's office. The federal law is Public Law 101-647, Nov. 27, 1990.
Question 1: Is the state intruding into private family matters?
Although the right of parents to raise their own children is accepted as a funda-mental right in our society, intervention is justified by a paramount social interest -- the safety of the child. The Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that everyone has equal protection under the law. Intervention for the protection of a child may involve a broad range of possible action, including counseling and treatment for the family; referral to community assistance programs; the filing of criminal charges; and/or the removal of a child from the control and custody of a parent, guardian, or other caretaker." (1)
In establishing child abuse laws, the states are affirming that they have compelling interest in protecting children from abuse and neglect.
The U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision in a 1943 case wherein a child was being used to sell religious literature on the street. It weighed "the obviously earnest claim for freedom of conscience and religious practice" against "the interest of society to protect the welfare of children." The latter interest was held to prevail. Judge Wiley Rutledge, in the majority opinion wrote that "the power of the state to control the conduct of children reaches beyond the scope of its authority over adults, as is true in the case of other freedoms..." The court also stated in this decision that "the right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the... child... to ill health or death." (2)
A Brief History
Interestingly enough, the first plea for governmental attention to child abuse came in part from "interested church workers." In 1874, concerned neighbors in the New York tenement house where nine-year-old Mary Ellen lived, told a nurse, Etta Wheeler, that they thought the girl was being seriously mistreated by her parents. Nurse Wheeler investigated and found the child chained to a bedpost in her parents' apartment. Mary Ellen had apparently been beaten often, her body gave evidence of severe bruises in various stages of development. She was pitifully undernourished from her diet of bread and water.
Etta Wheeler and interested church workers brought the matter to the police and district attorney. They discovered that there was no law to cover such a situation, no agency with the power to interfere. Out of desperation they appealed to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on the grounds that the child was a member of the animal kingdom. The society agreed that Mary Ellen's case fell under the laws governing the treatment of animals and had the child removed from her home on these grounds.
Mary Ellen was brought into court on a stretcher. She was weak, ill, and emaciated, with all the signs of vicious treatment still evident in her stunted body; but she was alive and safe. It was a shock to the citizenry to realize that the question of cruelty to animals had been regarded as more important than the prevention of cruelty to children. One year later, in 1875, the first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was organized in New York.
To be remembered is the fact that the government in our American democracy is that method whereby we as a people perform certain functions corporately which we could not perform as well, or at all, as individuals (e.g., police, fire protection, highways etc.). By granting our local law enforcement and human service agencies the
responsibility of taking on the task of protecting vulnerable children, we are all exhibiting our concern and acting in the interests of those in need.
In a free democratic society, however, all citizens, certainly including religious leaders, while providing public officials with the means to fulfill their obligations, should also hold them accountable for proper exercise of these responsibilities. For this reason, all citizens should keep informed as to the needs and the methods of those agencies which have been established to protect our children, disabled and elderly.
Also, it has long been an American tradition that the private sector, which would include our religious institutions, render assistance over and above those responsibilities designated to the public agencies. Another section of this manual will speak to some of the ways by which the community of faith can help.
Question 2: What about information received in confidence?
The issue of the clergy privilege of confidentiality vs. the legal requirements to report child and elderly abuse merits serious consideration.
A Pastoral Dilemma
The requirement that clergy report suspected child and elderly abuse leaves the minister, priest, rabbi, or imam with a dilemma. For many, the tenets of his or her faith, denomination, or personal and professional ethics, require that matters divulged in confidence to be so held. For example, Roman Catholic priests, under church laws carrying severe penalty, may not divulge information received under the seal of the confessional.
On the other hand, the safety and protection of those who are being severely hurt, molested, and even in danger of death, is a strong mandate of every faith. There is a considerable body of scripture both Hebrew and New Testament, enjoining God's people to care, not only for all others (We are our "brother's keeper"), but particularly for the weak and vulnerable.
Some denominations have begun to address this issue. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America gives this direction to clergy, "Ordained ministers must respect privileged and confidential communication and may not disclose such communication, except with the express permission of the person who has confided it or if the person is perceived to intend great harm to self or others." (3) (emphasis added)
Confidentiality vs. Secrecy
In considering the issue of the privilege of clergy confidentiality, it is important to understand the difference between secrecy and confidentiality. Giving assurance to the one divulging facts that these facts will never, under any circumstances, be divulged to anyone, is secrecy. Obviously suspected child or elderly abuse from information received in such a circumstance could not be reported; and the child would, in all likelihood, continue to be harmed.
To give assurance of confidentiality, on the other hand, is to give assurance that the recipient of the information will hold it in trust. To hold information in trust means that it could, with permission, be shared with others when to do so is in the best interest of the person giving the information, or of someone about whom the information is given (e.g., consultation with another professional, or reporting to authorities who will make an independent evaluation).
The purpose of the privilege of confidentiality is not to protect perpetrators of abuse from possible penalty or required treatment. Nor is maintaining confidentiality merely a way of encouraging a parishioner to open up. The purpose of confidentiality is to allow clergy to serve as conduit to God thus facilitating the parishioner's acts of confession, repentance, forgiveness, which result in corrective personal behavior in the sight of God and community.
It is also important to keep in mind that the privilege of confidentiality is not designed to protect the clergy. Confidentiality is designed as the means by which the parishioner has a human (clergy) witness to intention, i.e. refraining from sinful behavior. Some clergy may assume intention is enough and fail to monitor or follow through with seeing that the behavior does change. The challenge facing many clergy people is to learn to refer their parishioners for behavioral treatment. Many have great difficulty trusting the social services system which is a natural partner in the healing, re-learning process for human behaviors which are abusive. The continuing struggle for clergy is the constant reminder that ministry is not completed until the parishioner's change of heart shows up in personal behavior. Because, if behavior doesn't change the child or elderly person continues to suffer physical abuse, sexual molestations, emotional trauma or neglect and sin flourishes.
It should be noted in this regard that generally treatment of abusers must be enforced by law in order to maintain them in treatment long enough to be effective. A repentant attitude, and even prayer and pastoral counsel, are generally not sufficient to break the addictive patterns. True repentance means that the one repenting is willing to go through whatever process is necessary to make the necessary changes. Also, abuse and molestation are against the law and payment of the required penalties can, to one who is truly repentant, also be remedial.
According to Military Rule of Evidence 503, Communications to Clergy, "A person has a privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent another from disclosing a confidential communication by the person to a clergymember or to a clergymember's assistant, if such communication is made either as a formal act of religion or as a matter of conscience."
Under rule 503, if a communication is confidential and made as a formal act of religion or as a matter of conscience, then the clergymember may not inform the court of the communication unless the judge rules that there is no privilege. If the judge rules that there is no privilege then there is an affirmative duty on the clergymember to tell the court the communication. This is the "privilege" that Rule 503 encompasses. Rule 503 however does not prohibit a clergymember from relaying the confidential communication to a third party outside of court if the clergymember could ethically disclose the "confidentiality" within his denomination.
For instance, if a person told a clergymember that he was abusing his child and the confession was a formal act of religion, then the clergymember could inform the authorities that this man was abusing his child if the clergymember could ethically do so within his church. However, the clergymember could not inform the court of the confidential communication without the person's permission because of the communications to clergy privilege. This is the difference between "privilege" and "confidentiality". (4)
Note 1: A thorough discussion of clergy privilege can be found in the August, 1992, issue of The Army Lawyer, Department of the Army Pamphlet 27-50-237, pp. 16-23.
Note 2: Just prior to publication of this manual, information was received from a member of the Chaplain Advisory Committee to this project that a revision of the policy on chaplain's privileged communication is being made. Its content will be forth coming. It will review, and possibly make revisions or clarifications to such issues as absolute confidentiality, coercion to divulge and the "greater harm" theory relative to breaking confidentiality in the case of safety issues (certainly relevant to reporting of child abuse). Chaplains are encouraged to be alert to these possible changes.
One caution in respect to this is that many people who go to their pastor, priest, rabbi, or imam under any circumstances, counseling session or otherwise, assume that what is being said will be held in confidence (often giving it the meaning "secret"). It is important before a person begins to disclose anything of a personal nature, to stop him or her and first determine whether confidence is expected. If so, the above suggested approach may be used.
QUESTION 3: How and where do clergy report and what happens when they do?
The laws and procedures vary, to some extent, from state to state. However, states are fairly consistent in requiring that reports be made to local law enforcement agencies (police or sheriff) and/or the child or adult protection service of the department of social (human) services.
Usually there is a provision in mandated reporting laws that grant immunity from criminal or civil liability to mandated reporters for reporting as required or authorized. The state attorney general's office can advise if this provision is in a particular state statute.
Social services to which reports should be made could be in one of several possible jurisdictions (county, district, state) depending upon the state. The best guideline is to start with the most localized office. Often there is a telephone listing specifically for making reports. Many law enforcement agencies in larger jurisdictions often have special departments to handle child and adult abuse and neglect cases.
There is greater variation between states regarding the investigative and court procedures. In most states, however, social services and law enforcement work together, although their investigations will generally be separate for particular reasons.
Law enforcement is investigating for possible criminal offense, while departments of social services are investigating for child or adult welfare purposes, particularly health and safety. In most jurisdictions law enforcement officers may, if they determine clear and present danger, remove the child for a very brief period, only until a court within a mandated limited time period, such as 24 or 48 hours, can make a determination on the case.
If there is sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed, the offender may be arrested and tried in district (state, superior) court for his/her alleged criminal activity. If the child or adult protection worker of social services determines that the child is in danger, he/she may bring the case to juvenile, family or other appropriate court to make the determination. Reports of physical exams and other evidence are generally a part of the court's considerations.
Most courts and departments of social services make efforts to keep the child in the home if at all possible, by offering counseling, parent support programs, etc. However, there are cases, many more than we would like to believe, where the child has simply been so abused, and is in such continued danger in the home, that temporary or even permanent placement outside the home is necessary. A child may be placed with the non-custodial parent, a relative or in a foster home. Even in these cases, attempts are generally still made at family reunification if possible.
In some jurisdictions and some situations, offenders are allowed to go to treatment instead of jail or prison. There is no guarantee of this, but such a possibility is much more likely in cases of admission of guilt by the offender and agreement by all parties involved to work at treatment. Usually, in such cases, if the offender fails to continue in treatment, he/she must then return to court to face penalty.
QUESTION 4: Will reporting help?
Actions which address the problems of a dysfunctional family, often require the choice of the "lesser of two evils," i.e., separation for protection, courts, etc., vs. continued neglect, abuse or molestation.
So the answer to the question, "Will reporting help?" has to be "yes," in that it initiates a process that may accomplish several things: (1) protect the victim, (2) bring the offender to justice, (3) set up possible counseling under a reunification process in the hope that there can be at least minimal correction of the dysfunction.
Of course there are also negatives. The victim may be placed in a foster home (some good, some not so good, but at least all licensed and observed for violations). The offender may go to jail or prison. It may never be possible for the family to be reunified.
From a spiritual standpoint, however, bringing the neglect or abuse to the criminal justice system will result in the possible breakthrough of secrecy and/or denial on the part of the offender. Many perpetrators who do not have proper anger or impulse control seem relieved to have the problem finally brought out into the open. The lancing of a boil is painful, but it must be done for healing to take place. Also, in the case of physical abuse, there is often spousal abuse as well. Many times in these situations the wife is too intimidated to deal with the abuse until some outside corrective measure is introduced.
Finally, it should be remembered that abusive behavior can develop into a repetitive pattern that is difficult to break. This includes the abuser's inability to control anger related actions, causing physical abuse, or deviant sexual impulses resulting in child sexual molestation. Even where a strong spiritual experience has resulted in changes of attitudes, the ongoing work of changing the pattern of behavior is a daily discipline, and usually intense special assistance is needed to break its power.
If a pastor, priest, rabbi, or imam is counseling with a congregant regarding overeating he or she may have the luxury to take more time in the prayer and encouragement process. However, in the case of abuse (either physical or sexual) every time there is a failure or recurrence of the behavior, the vulnerable and innocent are again victimized. Protection of the victim during court action and counseling is the reason for required separations.
QUESTION 5: What can clergy and congregations do during this entire difficult process?
It can be readily seen from the above that there are many opportunities for proper pastoral response. Suggestions for positive congregational response are presented on pages 82-87.
However, at this point, it should be stated that "walking through the system," particularly with the victim, is a vital ministry. Clergy should keep in touch with law enforcement, children and youth services and the courts to assure that the child is not, through some breakdown (caused, perhaps, by sheer overload), re-victimized by the very procedure established to protect him or her. These agencies will, with rare exception, appreciate positive support from, and relationships with those who want to help.
There are volunteer programs like CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) which assign a caring adult to go with the child to court hearings and interviews in order to render support through the entire, complex system. The ministry of simply "being there" for all involved is, in itself, one of the most effective of congregational responses.
Other congregational responses such as respite care, in-home assistance, foster care, etc., will be addressed in this manual as indicated above.
(1) Child Abuse Prevention Handbook, Crime Prevention Center, Office of the Attorney General, Sacramento, California.
(2) 321 U.S. at 170, 166-167.
(3) "Definition and Guidelines for Discipline," Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, November 19, 1989.
(4) From a memorandum to a staff chaplain, Fort Knox, KY, March, 1993, by David A. Shively, J.A. Administrative Law Officer for the Staff Judge Advocate, HQDA.
Most of this section deals with reporting of child abuse and neglect in the civilian community. In many cases the issues involved there are the same as for military chaplains. However, the next four pages are included in this special chaplains' edition in order to give specific reporting information for chaplains, and other military personnel.
Initial Reporting of Child and Spouse Abuse
The installation FAPO or designee, shall receive all reports of alleged child or spouse abuse, in accordance with DoD Directive 6400.1 (reference (c)) and related Service directives. This shall include reports of alleged out-of-home or institutional child abuse, sexual abuse, or exploitation by caretakers.
A case record (or file) shall be opened for every new case of alleged child or spouse abuse reported to the FAP. Every alleged incident shall be documented in writing. The installation FAPO or designee, shall be responsible for the collection of pertinent written information to be included in the case record (file), regardless of the administrative unit that obtained the information. Security of the case record, in accordance with Service directives shall be maintained. (Cross-referenced to "Case Records," PS 6.22, 6.23, and 6.24, Chapter 6).
The military law enforcement blotter on incident reports of child and spouse abuse shall be reviewed. Local law enforcement agencies shall be requested to provide access to reported child and spouse abuse incidents involving military personnel and families. These review procedures shall be included in the installation MOUs with these agencies.
Policies and procedures shall be developed to ensure that the following responsibilities are carried out in the case of alleged child or spouse abuse:
(a) Medical assessment for all minors in the household and treatment, when indicated, for all family members in the household by medically trained personnel.
(b) Notification of the service member's commander.
(c) Notification of military law enforcement and investigative agencies.
(d) Notification of the local public child protective services agency (in alleged child abuse cases only) in the United States and where covered by agreements overseas.
(1) DoD Family Advocacy Staff Training Course, Page 1, Chapter 3
The Family Advocacy Program of the Department of Defense (DoD) is designed to prevent and treat child and spouse abuse in accordance with DoD Directive 6400.1, Family Advocacy Program. Each Service maintains a central registry of reports of alleged child and spouse abuse. In addition, allegations of child sexual abuse that occur in out-of-home care settings, such as in child care centers, family day care homes, schools, or recreation programs, must be reported within 72 hours to the Service Family Advocacy Program for inclusion in the central registry and to the DoD Assistant Secretary (Force Management Policy) or to his or her designee. Criminal prosecution is the goal of intervention in cases involving child sexual abuse in an out-of home care setting.
DoD's Legal Assistance Offices serve as the point of contact for inquiries concerning the abduction of a child by a parent or other family member who is on active duty with the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps. Legal Assistance Offices provide coordination of legal issues and liaison to commanders of the Service members. They are also the points of contact for the State Department in international abduction cases.
Family Advocacy Program
If more than one child is a victim of sexual abuse in an out-of-home care setting, the Service may convene a multidisciplinary technical assistance team for the installation at the request of the installation commander, or the DoD Office of Family Policy may convene a multidisciplinary team of specially trained personnel from the four Services to provide technical assistance. Technical assistance may include law enforcement investigations, forensic medical examinations, forensic mental health examinations, and victim assistance to the child and family.
The primary recipients at the installation are the Family Advocacy Program Manager, the investigators of the installation law enforcement agency, and the physicians and mental health professionals at the military treatment facility or those who provide services under contract.
Legal Assistance Offices
Legal Assistance Offices provide coordination of legal issues with the legal office of the installation where the Service member is stationed and provide legal advice and liaison to the commander of the active-duty Service member. They also serve as the
points of contact for the State Department in international child abduction cases. Primary addresses for Family Advocacy Programs for the four branches of the military are included in this manual on pp. 89 & 90.
Availability of Services
Services are available to: (1) members of the Armed Services who are on active duty and their family members who are eligible for treatment in a military treatment facility, and (2) members of a reserve or National Guard component who are on active duty and their family members who are eligible for treatment in a military treatment facility.
Family Advocacy Program
At the request of the installation commander, a multidisciplinary team is convened by the Family Advocacy Program Manager for a particular Service. A joint Service team is convened by the deputy director of the Family Advocacy Program, Office of Family Policy, in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy) at the request of the installation commander. These services are directed to cases in which a child is a victim of sexual abuse in an out-of-home care setting. They are available at the request of the installation commander if more than one child is a victim of sexual abuse in an out-of-home care setting.
Legal Services Office
The primary recipients of legal services are active-duty Service members who are parents of children who have been abducted. The secondary recipients are the legal representatives of the children and of the parents who are active-duty Service members. Services may be accessed directly by a parent at the Service's head legal assistance office or through the legal office where the Service member is stationed. The parent seeking assistance must have an authorized copy of a valid court order for custody or visitation issued by a court of competent jurisdiction. Services are available when the parent provides proof of a valid court order for custody or visitation that has been issued by a court of competent jurisdiction. Services are geared toward parental abductions and international abductions.
Copies of the following publications are available from the Military Family Resource Center:
DoD Directive 6400.1, "Family Advocacy Program."
DoD Instruction 6400.2, "Child and Spouse Abuse Report."
DoD Instruction 6400.3, "Family Advocacy Command Assistance Team."
Importance of Chaplaincy Involvement
Phil Quinn, D. Min., a man who was extremely abused during his childhood years, has written an account of his experiences in a book entitled, Cry Out (1). The conclusion of this book issues a strong challenge for pastoral intervention into child abuse. He writes,
"Parents are the gods of children. A young child can know no other. Possessing absolute authority, they have the power to build or destroy, to mold or bind, to strengthen or weaken, to bless or curse, to give life or to bring death. When the church speaks of God's love and acceptance, it has no meaning for the young child apart from the love and acceptance of his or her parents. If there is hate, rejection, pain, distress, and chaos at home, the child learns early the emptiness of words proclaimed as gospel from the pulpit. Jesus becomes a grotesque image of mystery, myth and meaninglessness. God becomes a word used to curse.
"As an adult survivor of six years of severe child abuse -- both physical and emotional -- I often wonder why the church did nothing to help me, my brothers, and my parents. Was it that they could not see the bruises, the cuts, scratches, and abrasions covering my body? Could they not see the desperation out of which my parents lived? Or the need? Surely as I attended church school classes someone must have noticed the pain and terror in my eyes, the hopelessness with which I moved, my withdrawal into isolation, or, at least, the swelling in my hands and feet. Surely someone must have noticed me.
"The priest was often in our home socially, as were other members of the church. Relatives were also there frequently. Could they not see what was happening to me? Surely the neighbors heard my screams in the middle of the night. Were they too frightened to help me? Did not the teachers at school wonder why I was so passive and withdrawn? Why didn't the police begin to suspect something when I ran away from home so many times?
"For six years I was beaten and battered by my parents. For six years I was ignored by everyone who came into contact with me. I would have given anything during that time if my prayers to God for help had been answered. But God was silent, his people were silent, and I suffered in silence..."
The importance of intervention by clergy and religious teachers and leaders cannot be overstated. The section of this manual on Child Abuse gives the information necessary for one to know the indicators and to be sensitive to the need to deal with the problem.
Some clergy have difficulty with the reporting aspect of child abuse. Can they not deal with the problem on their own? Should the states have to enter into child rearing issues that rightly belong to the family and the church? These questions have been dealt with in this manual. The most important factor to remember is that child abuse and neglect is a crime, just like any other physical or sexual assault. A civilized society cannot tolerate this kind of conduct. For this reason, in most of our states anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect is mandated to report it, just as surely as one would report an incident of someone holding a gun on a person at a street corner.
Ways Chaplains Can Help
After the report is made there is an investigation by Child Protective Services. Clergy can, and should, be in touch with this process. Sometimes there is a need, for the safety of the child, to separate the child from the offender. If this occurs, there is a very definite need for congregational support of all involved. The offender may need assistance maintaining a separate residence. Sometimes he or she may be allowed to see the child if there is someone to supervise the visitation. This supervision is another service that can be performed by the church, temple or synagogue.
There is a need for support of the victim, the offender and the non-offending spouse through the court process. In this case, assistance of the offender is often also assistance of the victim. The reason is that the offender should be encouraged to cooperate with the courts, and go into treatment for as long as it takes, even before being so ordered by the court. If an offender cooperates with the court and admits the offense, there is a possibility (not an assurance) that he or she will be able to go into treatment in lieu of incarceration.
In the case of sexual abuse, it is important that clergy be aware of the extreme addictive nature of this abuse. If attempts are made to counsel the victim and/or the offender without requiring separation, the victim will continue to be molested. There have been cases of molestation continuing through several years of pastoral counseling. This is unacceptable. The best possible remedy is for the offender to have to face up to the harsh reality of the law, acknowledge his guilt, and go through whatever is necessary to become healed. This is a "trial by fire." But fire purges. Clergy should stay with all parties during this disruptive process. Things have to get worse before they can get better, but we know that God is able to bring good out of even the most difficult circumstances if we cooperate with the resources that are provided to assist in the remedy.
Clergy are seen as the representatives of God to the world. Since God is seen to be the ultimate answer to all problems, there may be, on the part of some ministers, priests, rabbis, or imams, the tendency to resolve problems of family violence, including child abuse, exclusively in pastoral counseling situations. It is well for clergy to be aware of their limitations. Child abuse involves legal as well as social and psychological issues. There are professionals who have great expertise in the field. Their education and experience should be recommended just as surely as a pastor would recommend a medical doctor for a physical problem.
It should be remembered, when making a referral to a qualified therapist, that he or she is also mandated to report the case to legal authorities. Offenders, as well as victims, should be advised of this, but still encouraged in the strongest terms to still seek this help. They should not simply be referred and dropped. However, pastoral counseling during therapy is an extremely valuable resource.
Some clergy are reluctant to refer to outside therapists for fear that psychological therapy may undermine the tenets of their particular faith. Becoming acquainted with a therapist, letting him or her know of the concerns can overcome this fear. Good, qualified therapists will respond positively to such interest. Although the most recent Supreme Court case on clergy liability for failure to refer was decided in favor of pastoral counseling, there is still that possibility of liability that should always be kept in mind.
Besides the extremely important issue of religious leaders' recognition of and intervention in child abuse and neglect, is the great opportunity for implementation of positive prevention programs by congregations. The possibilities are numerous. Among them are:
1. Parenting Programs, particularly for high-risk parents
Many congregations have parenting programs for their members. Much child abuse derives from lack of knowledge of child development resulting in over expectations. Good parenting programs are available both through religious publishing houses and child abuse agencies. Those putting an emphasis on discipline without violence are, of course, recommended.
Those who attend parenting classes are those who feel they need it. It is important, as well, to make outreach efforts to sign up high-risk parents who do not express a need. Often the abuse comes out of frustration. To let the parenting class become a parent support group may be a helpful approach.
2. Parent Aides
Parent aid programs can be as varied as the congregation that chooses to initiate such. There is an interesting biblical injunction that older women teach the younger how to love their children (2). This could serve as one model for parent aid. Most parents complain that by the time they learn how to raise children, their children are grown. Such women could be a resource to younger frustrated, high-risk parents. The program could involve in-home assistance. Of course, there should be a training component, so that the recipient is open and benefits from such assistance.
3. Respite Care
Respite care involves giving a high-risk parent some respite from stress. Many single parents work during the day to provide for the home, then have to come home to care for the children in the evenings and on weekends. They seem to have no time off. A program which would give them some free time is a very helpful preventative program. There are congregations which have "Mom's Morning Out." The children can be left at the church, temple or synagogue at certain times for little or no cost. They would be well supervised and the parent can do something herself in order to take off the pressure.
4. Latch-Key Programs
Akin to respite care are latch-key programs. The latch-key child is one who is alone in the home from after school time until parents arrive from work. Some congregations have "Stop Bys." A "Stop By" is a place where children can come after school, receive a little refreshment, get some help with their studies, play games, watch television, simply "be at home" because there are volunteers who are spending time being parents while the parents are away.
Note: It is important to screen volunteers very carefully. Pedophiles (fixated child molesters) often volunteer for such positions just to be with children. This should not, however, deter congregations from rendering this assistance. Most member volunteers are well known over a period of many years.
5. Child Care
There are many faith-based child care facilities. Some churches find ways to let their church school facilities double as day care rooms. Others provide separate facilities. These must, and should be licensed by the state licensing agencies. There is a great need for low-cost child care. If congregations, being non-profit, can find ways to keep the cost down they are performing a great service. Note: The warning for Item 4 above, certainly applies here as well.
6. Foster Care
There is an overwhelming need for both long and short-term foster homes. County welfare services will pay subsistence for such facilities. Some churches have taken this on as a mission. They recruit foster parents who will serve as loving models to terribly damaged children. Not only are they thus providing for immediate physical need, but are also ministering to great emotional and spiritual needs. Congregations should contact their local departments of human or social services for information on foster care.
An adaptation to this, which is working well, is by which several members of a congregation gather around that foster parent with support. They may provide materials (diapers, cribs, toys, etc.) or services (trips to the doctor, respite for the foster parent, etc.).
7. Adopt-A-Social Worker
One interesting, and rather extensive program that is effective involves congregations' offering support (not salary) to a social worker in the community. This takes the form of being available to meet specific requests that a social worker may have for her or his family case load. The county covers certain needs, but many "fall through the cracks." There are many things that social workers might use in specific cases which would be of great help, but which fall outside the guidelines of what can be provided.
The request may be for a tricycle or some other toy, or an item of house repair, or a certain special item of clothing or one of an innumerable number of items that could make the difference for a high-risk family. The reports that come back to the congregation from their social worker can raise the consciousness of the entire congregation.
These are a few key suggestions. Once the dynamics of child abuse are understood, the creative energies of congregations can provide many other prevention models.
The Spiritual Dimension in Victim Services would like to serve as a clearing- house for these positive efforts. Clergy are invited to call for names and information concerning specific programs of the type listed above, and to advise of others of which they may be familiar. (303) 333-8810
(1) Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tennessee 1984
(2) Titus 2:4 (RSV, KJV & NIV)
National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse
332 So. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1600
Chicago, Illinois 60604-4357 (312) 663-3520
National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children, Youth and Families
Mary E. Switzer Building,
330 C Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20201 (202) 205-8586
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 550
Arlington, Virginia 22201-3052 (703) 235-3900
Toll Free Hot Line 1-800-843-5678
American Association for Protecting Children
The American Humane Association
63 Inverness Drive East
Englewood, Colorado 80112-5117 (303) 792-9900
C. Henry Kempe National Center for Prevention and
Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect
1205 Oneida Street
Denver, Colorado 80220 (303) 321-3963
The Spiritual Dimension in Victim Services
P.O. Box 6736 (303) 333-8810
Denver, Colorado 80206-0736 Fax (303) 333-8805
American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
407 S. Dearborn #1300
Chicago, Illinois 60605 (312) 554-0166
Center on Children and the Law
American Bar Association
740 15th Street, N.W., 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005 (202) 662-1720
Children's Defense Fund
25 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001 (202) 628-8787
Children's Institute International
711 S. New Hampshire
Los Angeles, CA 90005 (213) 385-5100
6463 Independence Avenue (213) 465-4016
Woodland Hills, CA 91367 1-800-4-A-CHILD
Child Welfare League of America
440 First Street, NW Suite 310
Washington, DC 20001-2085 (202) 638-2952
Family Advocacy Programs
Army Family Advocacy Program Manager
Department of the Army Telephone: (703) 325-9390
Hoffman #1, Room 1407 DSN: (703) 325-9390
Alexandria, VA 22331-0521 FAX: (703) 325-5924
Head, Family Advocacy Program Branch (FAPB)
BUPERS (Code 661) Rm. G807 Telephone: (703) 695-4826
#2 Navy Annex DSN: (703) 227-6616
Washington, DC 20370-6000 FAX: (703) 697-6571
Family Advocacy Division
HQ AFMOA/SGPS Telephone: (210) 536-2031
8901 18th Street, Suite I DSN: (210) 240-2031
Brooks Air Force Base, TX 78235-5217 FAX: (210) 536-9032
Marine Corps Family Advocacy Program Manager
Headquarters USMC Telephone: (703) 696-2046/7/8
Human Resources Division (Code MHF) DSN: (703) 226-2046/7/8
Washington, DC 20380-0001 FAX: (703) 696-1143
Defense Logistics Agency
Family Advocacy Program Manager
Quality of Life Program CAAPQ
Defense Logistics Agency Telephone: (703) 767-5372
8725 John J. Kingman Road, STE 2533 DSN: (703) 427-5372
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-6221 FAX: (703) 767-5374
National Resource Center on Child Sexual Abuse
2204 Whitesburg Dr. Suite 200 (205) 534-6883
Huntsville, Alabama 35801 1-800-KIDS006
National Resource Center on Child Abuse and Neglect
American Association for Protecting Children
The American Humane Association
63 Inverness Drive East 1-800-227-5242
Englewood, Colorado 80112-5117 (303) 792-9900
National Child Abuse and Neglect Clinical
Kempe National Center
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
1205 Oneida Street
Denver, Colorado 80220 (303) 321-3963
National Child Welfare Resource Center for
Center for Child & Family Policy
University of Southern Maine
400 Congress Street 1 (800) 435-7543
Portland, Maine 04112 (207) 780-4430
National Resource Center for Special Needs Adoption
16250 Northland Drive, Suite 120
Southfield, Michigan 48075 (810) 443-7080
National Resource Center for Youth Services
202 West Eighth
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74119-1419 (918) 585-2986
National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice
University of Iowa
School of Social Work
Room 112, North Hall
Iowa City, Iowa 52242 (319) 335-2200
Note: These organizations and agencies may be contacted for information on state resources. The National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, for example, has an affiliate in each state. Others also have listings of local resources. The child protection services of Departments of Social or Human Services in each state and county also can provide information as to resources in their locations.
Note: This is only a sampling of the many publications on the subject. These publications are selected from a compendium published by The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The book, pamphlets and kits in this list were reviewed and catalogued by The National Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect and are offered by the Board as professional and community resources. The inclusion of these publications does not imply endorsement by the Federal Government, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the U.S. Department of Justice. The books are among hundreds of publications in the Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect, a project of the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect.
General Child Abuse and Neglect
Chaffee, Paul, Accountable Leadership -- Resources for Worshiping Communities, San Francisco: ChurchCare Publishing, 1993, 2107 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94109, (800) 230-4635.
O'Brien, Shirley, Child Abuse -- a Crying Shame, Brigham University Press, Provo, UT 84602.
O'Brien, Shirley, Child Abuse and Neglect -- Everyone's Problem, 11141 Georgia Avenue, #200, Wheaton, MD, 20902: Association for Childhood Education International.
Hester, Glenn, & Bruce Hygren, Child of Rage, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 190 pp. (Religious perspective).
Johnson, Carol A., Families in Stress, P.O. Box 1182, Washington, DC 20013: National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, 14 pp.
National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, It Shouldn't Hurt to be a Child, 332 So. Michigan Avenue, Suite 950, Chicago, IL 60504-4357, 15 pp.
Gil, Eliana, Ph.D., Outgrowing the Pain -- A Book for and About Adults Abused as Children, P.O. Box 40147, San Francisco, CA 94104: Launch Press.
Hammar, Richard, Pastor, Church and Law Second Edition, Matthews, North Carolina: Christian Ministry Resources, 1991.
Leehan, James, Pastoral Care for Survivors of Family Abuse, Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1989.
Cohn, Anne H., Physical Child Abuse, National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, (see address on preceding page).
Stoenner, Herb, Plain Talk About Child Abuse, American Humane Assn., Englewood, CO 80112-5117, 24 pp.
U.S. Department of Justice, President's Child Safety Partnership, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1987. Note: pp.166-171 contain a large detailed bibliography.
Inglis, Ruth, Sins of the Fathers, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY10010: St. Martin's Press, 212 pp.
Nobel Press and The Child Welfare League of America, Tender Mercies: Inside the World of a Child Abuser, Chicago and Washington, DC: 1992.
Haskins, Jim, The Child Abuse Help Book, Reading, MA 01867: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc., 106 pp.
Rondeau, Cari, The Efficacy of Reward vs. Punishment -- Comparison of Two Cottage Units, CHILDHELP USA, Woodland Hills, CA 91367, 14 pp.
Stolz, Barbara Ann, Violence in the Family, U.S. Catholic Conference, Office of Domestic Social Development, 1312 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, D.C., 44 pp.
Hampton, Sandra Judy, & Lee Hultquist, Whatever Happened to Judy?, Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 159 pp.
Bacon, Gertrude M., Who's Answering the Phone?, New York, NY, 10019: Parents Anonymous (a self-help organization for abusing parents), 250 East 57th Street.
Child Sexual Abuse
Allen, Charlotte Vale, Daddy's Girl -- A Very Personal Memoir, New York, NY 10103: Bantam Books, 254 pp.
Sanford, Dorise, I Can't Talk About It: A Child's Book About Sexual Abuse, Multnomah Press, 1986.
Adams, Caren, & Jennifer Fay, No More Secrets: Protecting Your Child From Sexual Assault, Impact Publishers, Box 1094, San Luis Obispo, CA 94306, 90 pp.
Minnesota Criminal Justice Program, Protective Parenting -- The Art of Teaching Children About Sexual Abuse, Department of Public Welfare, 658 Cedar Street, St. Paul, MN 55515, 10 pp.
Heggen, Carolyn Holdread, Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches, Scottsdale, PA and Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press.
Austin Child Guidance Center, Sexual Abuse -- A Primer for Parents, Austin Services Division, 612 West 6th Street, Austin, TX 78701.
Hyde, Margaret O., Sexual Abuse -- Let's Talk About It, Philadelphia, PA: Westminister Press, 90 pp.
Spelman, Cornelia, Talking About Child Sexual Abuse, National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse (see address above). 15 pp.
Sanford, Linda T., The Silent Children -- A Parent's Guide to the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/ Doubleday, 360 pp.
Tower, Cynthia, & Susan McCauley, What Parents Should Know About Child Sexual Abuse, West Haven, CT 06516, National Education Associates, P.O. Box 509, 4 pp.
Crewdson, John, By Silence Betrayed, Boston, Toronto: Little Brown & Co., 260 pp.
Child Emotional Abuse
Garbarino, James and Anne, Emotional Maltreatment of Children, National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse (see address above), 25 pp.
Garbarino, J., E. Guttmann, & J.W. Sealey, Thy Psychologically Battered Child, San Francisco, CA 94104: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 433 California Street, 272 pp.
Wednesday's Children: A Study of Child Neglect and Abuse, New York, NY 10020: McGraw-Hill Paper-backs, 1221 Avenue of the Americas, 190 pp.
Books on All Four Forms of Child Abuse and Neglect
Note: This list is provided by The Spiritual Dimension in Victim Services. Several of them are published by religious publishing houses and are from a religious perspective. Their listing here does not imply endorsement by The Spiritual Dimension in Victim Services or the U.S. Department of Justice.
Horton, Anne L. & Judith A. Williamson, Abuse and Religion: When Praying Isn't Enough, Lexington Books, D.C. Heath & Co., Lexington, MA, 286 pp.
Mead, James & Glen Balch, Jr., Child Abuse and the Church: A New Mission,, 650 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626: HDL Publishing Co., 121 pp.
Finkelhor, David, Child Sexual Abuse, New York: The Free Press, 1984.
Quinn, P.E., Cry Out, Nashville, TN 37202: Abingdon Press, 201 8th Avenue South, 200 pp.
Martin, Dr. Grant, Please Don't Hurt Me: A Sensitive Look at the Growing Problem of Abuse in Christian Homes, Wheaton, IL 60189: Victor Books, Scripture Press, 192 pp.
Nelson, Jane, Ed.D., Positive Discipline, 4984 Arboleda Drive, Fair Oaks, CA 95628: Sunrise Press, 189 pp.
Finkelhor, David, Sexually Victimized Children, 866 Third Avenue, New York, NY: Free Press, Macmillan Publishing Co., 221 pp.
Fontana, Vincent J., M.D., Somewhere A Child is Crying, P.O. Box 999, Bergenfield, NJ 07621: Mentor Book, New American Library
Quinn, P.E., Spare the Rod, Abingdon Press (see above for address), 191 pp.