Child sexual abuse scandals have rocked the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, and far too many Protestant churches, which is why a ministry is working to protect children from becoming the next victim.
According to attorney and child advocate Kimberlee Norris of MinistrySafe, 90 percent of kids who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know and trust – not a stranger.
And those abusers, she says, are typically very good at not getting caught.
“There's a process utilized by these offenders,” she warns, “to gain access to children: Select specific children, prepare that child, and then keep that child silent.”
Child sexual abuse is a massive problem in the United States, where some estimates suggest one in three girls, and one in six boys, will be a sexual abuse victim before they turn 18. And that estimate is considered a conservative figure by some.
MinistrySafe was co-founded by attorneys Gregory Love and Norris, who used their legal advocacy for abuse victims to launch a program that helps ministries and churches reduce the risk of sexual abuse.
Norris tells OneNewsNow that MinistrySafe trains people to rely on “bright lines” to regulate interactions with children: what is unacceptable touch or speech, and where conversations can occur.
“It's not always possible to differentiate the predator from the idiot,” she says, “which is another reason why you have to have bright lines in place.”
It is also true that churches must deal with “idiots” who don’t mean harm but broke the rules, Norris advises, which is why pointing to a clear-cut policy – and not accusing someone of being a predator – is one way of getting rid of suspicious activity if someone fails to follow those rules.
“You're saying, This is our policy and it's been clearly communicated to you. You've stepped over it once. This is the second time. We're done," she says.