“This world is dangerous not because of those who do harm, but because of those who look at it without doing anything.”
Mr. Einstein was of course talking about people, both within Germany and around the world, who knew of the atrocities being committed by the Nazi’s, but were saying and doing nothing.
Tragically, this can too easily be applied to childhood sexual abuse within the Church.
Of all the places children SHOULD feel most protected, we would think a place of worship and faith would be one. Instead, children can be just as likely to find sexual predators with a culture that protects the offenders and blames the victims.
With that in mind, let me ask some questions:
How much money would you spend to keep your children safe?
How much time is enough to learn what is necessary about abuse and those who would harm children?
How much effort/energy would you exert to save a child’s life?
The answers that come to all “normal”, rational people’s minds are easy, right? Any amount of money it takes! Whatever amount of time is needed! I would give anything and everything to save a child’s life!
But would you? Really??
I once met with a group of people, all who were people of faith, who seemingly spent more time asking me questions about how to get around protecting children. They asked what is “really” needed to protect children? What were the basics rather than all the details? They thought the statistics were exaggerated to get people to react. Thought that many on predator databases were made out to be worse than the crimes actually were.
Think your community is different? Think your church is different? Think you are?
Let me ask you this…what is your “price”?
We all have our price. You know, that imaginary line we cross when what is “costs” becomes greater than what we are willing to give…of dollars, time or energy. To say different is to be lying to yourself, or not very self-aware. We all have our price. I have mine.
Until I was about to drop dead from drug addiction, I was unwilling to say a word about the sexual abuse that I and others endured. Finally, I decided I wasn’t willing to pay that price for my silence any longer.
When I did come forward about the sexual abuse that occurred within the church, what I needed to hear was…we believe you, what can we do to keep this from happening again?
What I got was, “shut up, get over it, go away” and a perpetrator that wasn’t just allowed to assault more little boys, he was practically encouraged and definitely emboldened to do so by the church’s lack of action and silence.
With sexual abuse now coming to the forefront of society’s attention, I am scared…no I’m terrified, that churches run the risk of going off the tracks. Either by bunkering down in a CYA “we did all we could” mode with watered-down, so-called Christian checklists, that supposedly make a “ministry safe” for children. That churches will say, “Look, for a couple hundred dollars, we can make our church free of sexual predators by taking an online course.”
Or that they become numb and calloused from information overload, or misinformation by clerical surrogates. These things can happen without us even realizing it. Let me give you an example. Do you remember how you felt the day after terrorists attacked on 9-11? Do you remember how terrified you were?
What about now? Still just as terrified? Most would say no. That’s what happens. Its human nature.
Today, because there are so many cases of sexual abuse being made public, and just as many people trying to nullify their impact, we can forget WHY we need to learn more and do more…because there are children who have been harmed beyond what most can imagine.
Sometimes I post information of an event or resource I think is helpful. Sometimes I post about something I’ve learned and want to share.
Sometimes it’s simply something that’s on my heart…this is one of those times.
Please don’t assume your faith community has done all it needs to protect the children under its care. Ask questions, demand they do more. Lead by example and be willing to do more, give more and pay ANY price to protect your children and help those who’ve been harmed.