Informed clergy are a key component in the fight against child abuse. Here is how you can be One with Courage.
Learn the signs and symptoms of abuse
Know what “grooming” of a child looks like and be observant of interactions between adults and youth. Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages, such as thumb-sucking, fear of the dark or strangers. For some children, even the loss of acquired language or memory problems may be an issue.
Educate other clergy about the signs and symptoms of abuse
Be familiar with your religious affiliation’s policies and procedures and Utah’s laws on reporting. Be aware of any support hotlines or other resources available to you.
Start a conversation
Start a conversation with your congregation, family, friends and neighbors about the signs and symptoms of abuse.
A child’s safety is an adult’s job
Children are often taught how to keep themselves safe, which is important, but they are just children. We teach them to be safe and protect them in so many areas; this should include preventing sexual abuse. Children are taught to mind grownups, but they also need to be taught that they have the right to say “no” and the right to privacy. Their body is their own.
Put limits on one-adult/one-child situations, even with authority figures. By establishing clear rules and boundaries like this, the risk of abuse is reduced. Set an example by personally avoiding one-adult/one-child situations with children other than your own. Think carefully about gatherings and encourage group participation whenever possible.
Encourage friends and family to join the One with Courage campaign – help them understand everyone’s role in this fight.
Contact your local Children’s Justice Center (CJC)
Contact your local Children’s Justice Center (CJC) to find out how you can be more involved, volunteer, and/or serve on the board.
Act on suspicions
Many of those who sexually abuse children have multiple victims. You may be faced with a situation where you suspect abuse but don’t have any proof. Suspicions are scary, but trust your instincts. Have the courage to report suspected abuse. The future well-being of a child may be at stake.
Remember, you are obligated by law to report suspected child abuse.
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