Here’s a question for you: What do an estimated 20% of girls and 10% of boys experience by the time they are 13 years old? The sad answer here is sexual abuse. Stay with me. I’m sure you were hoping for an uplifting post that would inspire you in your ministry, but suddenly find yourself reading about a pretty weighty topic. While it is an uncomfortable and scary issue, it’s a reality for over 3 million children in America. We can’t act as though it doesn’t happen in our community.
This overview of a study of more than 4000 admitted abusers lists some notable characteristics of typical abusers.
- 77% are married
- More than 46% have some college education; 30% have a high school diploma with no further education
- 65% are working adults
- Abusers are equally common in families of all income levels and classes
- 93% consider themselves religious
Wait…what was that? 93% are religious?! What does that mean for those of us in ministry with children? It means we shouldn’t be naive…not even the church is immune to the threat of sexual abuse. The difficulty comes in not knowing who these people are until it’s too late or unless they seek help on their own. What we can do is work to prevent sexual abuse from happening in our churches and communities.
Here are some helpful tips for that:
- Simply talk with parents and volunteers about the statistics and realities of sexual abuse
- Make yourself available to talk to children about questions they may have
- Perform background checks on every adult that works in your ministry…even the ones you know the best; some 90% of abusers know their victims
Check out what Focus on the Family says about the symptoms of abuse and suggestions for how to talk with kids about abuse.