We know that 85% – 90% of sexual abuse occurs within the child’s “safe world” – home, school, church, sports, scouting and other approved activities. Too often, “Church” and “Sexual Abuse” are paired in the news due to criminal activity rather than effective prevention work. Through the Safe Church Program, the Collins Center is dedicated to bringing ground-breaking sexual abuse prevention to the local faith communities.
Originating in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at the Samaritan Counseling Center, Safe Church now has national reach. In 2013, the Collins Center was one of 10 national sites trained to offer this program in its inaugural year.
Church by church, the program is empowering and equipping adults to play the primary role in the prevention of child sexual abuse, which currently affects 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys before they are 18 years old (source). Teams from each congregation meet together six times over the course of a year to learn how to detect and prevent sexual abuse and to respond quickly when warning signs are present. Participating churches are offered guidance on the creation of new or improved policies that include best practices for protecting children, and receive ongoing education for congregants, worship resources, a retreat for adult survivors, training for staff and volunteers, and curriculum resources for children and teens.
The current year's program runs through May of 2017. Please contact Jackie Hieber, Prevention Coordinator, to sign up for next year's Safe Church program or for more information.
The Collins Center is proudly partnering with the following three congregations in the 2016-2017 cohort:
- Crossroads Mennonite Church
- Mt. Carmel Regular Baptist Church (Luray, VA)
- Weavers Mennonite Church
In addition, the Collins Center's Safe Church Program worked with the following churches in 2015-2016:
- Early Church
- Mt. Clinton Mennonite Church
- Shalom Mennonite Church
- Muhlenberg Lutheran Church
- Park View Mennonite Church
- Mountain View Fellowship Church of the Brethren
- Community Mennonite Church
- Harrisonburg Unitarian Universalists