April is National Child
Abuse Prevention Month. We've talked before about the four types of abuse
and how to spot them. Today I want to share with you ways to
become informed about the issue, stay alert to the signs, and what
to do if you suspect abuse.
- Get Informed
There are tons of sites with valuable information to share with
your team. One of the best is the U.S. Department of Health &
Human Services Administration for Children & Families' Child
Welfare Information Gateway. Find more information about the definitions of child abuse and neglect, risk and protective factors for child abuse, how many children are abused, and the
consequences of child abuse and neglect.
- Stay Alert
Red flags usually appear when abuse occurs. Make sure your
team understands the warning signs of abuse. Also make sure to read
Sue Brage's the four do's
and don'ts for safety awareness. She explains the importance of
having a secure check-in/check-out system in place and why
volunteer training is a must.
- Be Prepared
If a member of your team suspects a child is being abused,
be ready to help them report the issue. Again, the Child Welfare
Information Gateway gives advice on responding to child abuse and neglect. If a
case of abuse occurs within a family in your ministry, make sure to
read this PDF on helping children heal from trauma.
As ministry leaders, it's so important to take
steps to safeguard our kids. I would encourage all of you to do a
background screening on every one of your volunteers, present and
future. Check out
this interview I did with Melissa Towers, who is the Adult and
Church Leadership Product Manager for Group. She explains that
screening your volunteers is absolutely necessary.
If you're interested in background checks and
screenings, I'd recommend Shepherd's
Watch from Group. Screenings are affordable and accurate, and
they will help keep your families safe.
Is your ministry doing anything for Child
Abuse Awareness Month? What steps have you taken to keep your kids
safe? Let us know in the comment section below!