Presbyterian News Service April 3, 2017
Toll-free number to help families and churches prevent child sexual abuse
by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE – The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, has teamed with the Insurance Board and Praesidium to help PC(USA) church councils and members of churches prevent child sexual abuse. The partnership has launched a toll-free Abuse Prevention Helpline (866-607-SAFE) to provide assistance to church councils and church families in their efforts to keep predators away from children.
“Statistics show that one out of four girls and one out of six boys will be abused before the age of 18,” said former Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons, who worked to make the helpline a reality. “We know that sexual predators seek out trusting environments where children are present and churches are vulnerable because of close relationships and immediate access to children.”
Parsons said the Helpline was established to help victims and church leaders get immediate assistance while giving churches guidelines plus resources for training and support to prevent predators from targeting their congregations.
Praesidium, the national leader in abuse prevention, is staffing the Helpline, providing expert advice on how to best respond to suspicious behavior and suspected abuse, as well as assist church councils in prevention. Callers will also receive guidance on responding to suspicious interactions between employee and/or volunteer and child, and determining when and how to report suspected abuse to authorities.
“Abuse is not a natural disaster. It is not something that happens with no warning signs or knowledge. It is an event that is preventable with the right resources such as policies, screening procedures and training,” said Aaron Lundberg, president and CEO of Praesidium. “Through our partnership with the PC(USA) and Insurance Board, we are able to offer these resources so churches can protect their congregations from the devastating effects of abuse.”
PC(USA) churches and individual members can call the Helpline to discuss concerns and incidents of abuse, seek criminal background checks and utilize an online Self-Assessment Tool to identify potential gaps in abuse risk management practices within their organization. Those resources can be found at www.InsuranceBoard.org/abuse_prevention.