A new training program to help people recognize and respond to child abuse is being released in April by Freedom for the Captives, a WELS organization that works to protect children and empower survivors of abuse.
The program—entitled “Standing up for Children: A Christian Response to Child Abuse and Neglect”—consists of four videos that review dealing with physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse and provide a theological basis for the importance of protecting children. The course also highlights how to create and enforce a child protection policy for a church, school, or organization.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for pastors, teachers, and lay leaders to get some fundamental training on how to keep children as safe as possible,” says Rev. Ben Sadler, chairman of the Freedom for the Captives committee and pastor at Goodview Trinity, Goodview, Minn. He recommends that all pastors, teachers, and lay leaders for children’s ministries go through ongoing training like this.
Sadler says that having a child protection policy in place at a congregation or school and having ongoing training for those who work with children also encourages survivors. “When going through this training, it raises awareness in the congregation on how we might better help people who’ve been abused,” he says. “It lets those who are suffering in silence know that [the church] cares about them.”
Sexual abuse is widespread in our communities. The CDC-Kaiser Permente Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) study (1997) shares that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused as children. “I think there is still the idea that this is somebody else’s church’s problem,” says Sadler. “Avoiding the issue won’t make it go away. We need to offer hope that we can encourage and help people who have gone through these difficult situations. And we need to provide the tools to keep our children safe.”
Funding from Antioch Foundation helped make this training program possible. This funding also is allowing committee member Mr. Victor Vieth, founder of the Gunderson National Child Protection Training Center, and member at St. John, Lewiston, Minn., to present at congregations, schools, and conferences in person.