Ethics Articles

Articles: Children


>> = Important Articles; ** = Major Articles


**Youth Ministry in a New Key? Substance over Sugarcoating (Mohler, 061030)

Policy On Child Sexual Abuse (Free Methodist Position Paper)

Planned Parenthood Invades Youth Groups (Free Congress Foundation, 040311)





**Youth Ministry in a New Key? Substance over Sugarcoating (Mohler, 061030)


TIME magazine, not to be mistaken for a journal on youth ministry, suggests in the current issue that evangelical youth ministry is trending toward substance and away from what it calls a “sugarcoated” approach.


From the article by Sonja Steptoe:


Youth ministers have been on a long and frustrating quest of their own over the past two decades or so. Believing that a message wrapped in pop-culture packaging was the way to attract teens to their flocks, pastors watered down the religious content and boosted the entertainment. But in recent years churches have begun offering their young people a style of religious instruction grounded in Bible study and teachings about the doctrines of their denomination. Their conversion has been sparked by the recognition that sugarcoated Christianity, popular in the 1980s and early ‘90s, has caused growing numbers of kids to turn away not just from attending youth-fellowship activities but also from practicing their faith at all.


Now, that is an astounding approach — maybe these kids are hungry for biblical substance and something more than entertainment and pizza. Well, they probably still want the pizza, but they don’t want to waste their time in useless and superficial youth programs. After all, they are swimming upstream against an adolescent culture. In many cases, they are more seriously-minded than their parents. They have to be, because the stakes are higher.


I am constantly asked a fascinating question by parents: Why are my children more conservative than I? The answer is complex, but when it comes to today’s youth and young adults, the fact is that they have had to think clearly about the genuine options available. They have had to make hard decisions about life, meaning, morality, truth, and significance.


The fact that TIME found this story interesting is a story in itself. Now, if only we could encourage these parents to be as serious as their teenagers — and their pastors as serious as their youth ministers.


NOTE: TIME looked at youth ministries at Calvary Baptist Church in Bellflower, California; Shoreline Christian Center in Austin, Texas; and Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. A nice comment about Covenant Life Church: “Similarly, teens at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., are embracing the big doses of Bible study youth pastors now recommend. Teen ranks have tripled, to nearly 600, since the mid-1990s.” I have seen the Covenant Life youth ministry up close, and they do dispense “big doses of Bible study.” It shows.




Policy On Child Sexual Abuse (Free Methodist Position Paper)




1 Introduction

Free Methodists value persons deeply. In a society where abuse is reported at alarming levels, we are determined to take every action we can to prevent abuse, especially in the context of the church, and when it does take place, to deal with it responsibly. Protection of children and youth is our paramount concern. It is also important to protect the denomination and our churches from liability prosecution.


The policy is composed of two parts:


I. Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse


II. When Sexual Abuse Occurs


Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse


2 Purpose

Sexual abuse is a particularly vicious form of violence against children and youth. It is a violation of the body, of personal boundaries and of trust. It can profoundly hinder emotional and spiritual development. Its effects are immediate and can be long-lasting.


Sexual abuse is prevalent within our society. Studies confirm that more than 40% of Canadians have been victims of sexual abuse, the majority experience their first unwanted sexual act as children or adolescents.


Sadly, the church community has not always been a place of safety. Many victims identify their perpetrators as members of their communities of faith (their parents, siblings, adolescents, children/youth workers, choir masters, youth pastors), and that the abuse occurred on church property or during church sponsored events. The church has a spiritual, moral and legal responsibility to ensure, as much as possible, the safety of children and youth attending its programs.


The purpose of this statement is:


1. to increase the safety of children and youth attending church programs;


2. to provide practice guidelines for church staff/volunteers; and


3. to limit the church’s legal liability.


Church boards are strongly encouraged to review the following guidelines and develop policies and procedures that are applicable to the local situation. Child sexual abuse is not limited by geography, occupation or economic condition. No congregation is immune, regardless of size, from the probability of abuse occurring.


3 Definition


Sexual abuse occurs whenever anyone with less maturity or power is tricked, trapped, coerced or bribed into a sexual experience. It occurs whenever anyone disempowered by handicap, age, or situation is involved in an activity which is sexually stimulating to the perpetrator and which the victim does not fully comprehend or to which he/she is unable to give informed consent. (Heggen, p. 20).


This generic definition can be applied to anyone, regardless of age. It identifies a critical factor in understanding and identifying abuse-the imbalance of power or authority between the abuser and the victim. Imbalance may result from the perpetrator’s great age, size, position, experience or authority.


Sexual abuse against children and youth is also defined in legal terms by both provincial child welfare legislation and by the Criminal Code of Canada. Child welfare legislation is designed to protect children and definitions tend to be open to interpretation. For example, the Alberta Child Welfare Act (1984) states that “a child is sexually abused if the child is inappropriately exposed or subjected to sexual contact, activity or behaviours.” The Criminal Code of Canada is concerned with criminal prosecution and is thus much more specific. It defines 16 different sexual offenses that apply to children and youth.


1. Sexual Interference: anyone who, for a sexual purpose, touches directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or an object, any part of the body of a child under 14 years. Exception: a person under 14 cannot be convicted of this offence, unless the young person is in a position of trust or authority in relation to the child (e.g., baby-sitter, parent), or is in a situation where the child victim is dependent on the young person.


2. Invitation to Sexual Touching: anyone who, for a sexual purpose, invites, counsels or incites a child under 14 to touch directly or indirectly with a part of the body or an object the body of any person, including the child’s own body and the body of the person encouraging the touching. Exception: a young person under 14 cannot be convicted of this offence, unless the young person is in a position of trust or authority in relation to the child (e.g., baby-sitter, parent), or is in a situation where the child victim is dependent on the young person.


3. Sexual Exploitation of a Young Person: “young person” is defined as a child 14 years of age or more but under 18. Every person is in a position of authority or trust towards a child or on whom the young person is dependent, who, for a sexual purpose, touches a young person’s body, or invites, counsels or incites the young person to touch directly or indirectly with a part of the body or an object the body of any person, including the young person’s body and the body of the person encouraging the touching.


4. Anal Intercourse: Acts of anal intercourse are prohibited with children and young people under 18. (Young persons under 18 are deemed unable to consent to anal intercourse unless they are husband and wife.)


5. Bestiality: Every person who has sexual intercourse or other sexual activity with an animal, or who compels someone else to have sexual intercourse or other sexual activity with an animal, or who has sexual intercourse or other sexual activity with an animal in the presence of a child under 14, or who incites a child under 14 to have sexual intercourse or other sexual activity with an animal.


6. Parent or Guardian Procuring Sexual Activity of a Child: Every parent or guardian of a child under 18 who procures (prevails upon or induces) the child to become involved in an illegal sexual activity with any person, other than the parent or guardian.


7. Householder Permitting Sexual Activity: An owner, manager or someone who assists in the management or control of premises who knowingly permits a child under 18 to be in the premises for the purpose of engaging in an illegal sexual activity (any sexual activity prohibited by the Criminal Code).


8. Exposing Genitals to a Child: Every person, in any place, who exposes his or her genitals to a child under 14 for a sexual purpose.


9. Vagrancy: Everyone who has been convicted of sexual assault, one of the secular touching offenses, bestiality or exposure involving a child found loitering in or near a playground, school, public park or bathing area.


10a. Living Off the Avails of Child Prostitution: Every person who lives wholly or in part off the profits of prostitution of a child under 18.


10b. Attempting to Obtain the Sexual Services of a Child: Every person who obtains, or attempts to obtain for consideration, the sexual services of a young person under 18.


11. Incest: Having sexual intercourse with a blood relation (parent, child, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, grandparent, grandchild).


12. Corrupting Children: Endangering the morals of children under age 18) or rendering home an unfit place for a child.


13. Indecent Act: Performing an indecent act in a public place in the presence of one or more persons, in any place, with intent to insult or offend any person.


14. Sexual Assault: Applying force to another person, directly or indirectly, without consent, under circumstances of a sexual nature.


15. Sexual Assault with a Weapon, Threats to a Third Party or Causing Bodily Harm: Committing a sexual assault while carrying, using or threatening to use a weapon or imitation of a weapon, or threatening bodily harm to a person other than the victim, or causing bodily harm to the victim, or being party to this offence with someone else.


16. Aggravated Sexual Assault: Wounding, maiming, disfiguring, or endangering the life of the victim while committing the sexual assault. (Wells, pp. 44-59)


4 Personnel Related Guidelines


4.1 Recruitment of Paid Staff and Volunteers

The following guidelines apply to all paid staff and to all volunteers over age 14 years working with children and youth. Documentation of each step is important. Developing a “paper trail” not only ensures that the recruitment process is followed, it also reduces legal risk by providing evidence that the church has taken careful and deliberate action to limit the potential of abuse occurring.


a. Employment / Volunteer Application and Screening Form:


Each individual seeking employment with the church is required to submit a resume of his/her qualifications and experience and complete an application form. In addition, short-listed employees, following the initial interview process are asked to complete a screening form. Volunteers are required to complete screen forms before becoming involved in child/youth related programs.


A sample Screen Form is attached. If a church chooses to develop its own form, at least the following items should be included:


o Applicant’s name (identity should be confirmed by photo identification)

o Address

o Provision for a criminal records check

o Area of work in which the applicant is interested

o Any training or education in child or youth work

o Description of church membership over the past five years, including the names of contact persons

o Description of church volunteer work over the past five years

o Description of any youth work (at churches or any other organization) over the past five years

o Names and addresses of two references


Volunteers will be considered for work with children/youth only after they have been regular attendees of the congregation for six months. This allows the church an opportunity to evaluate character and behaviour and will help to repel persons seeking immediate access to children.


b. Interview:


Each employee or volunteer applicant is interviewed by a committee of at least two members who are familiar with sexual abuse issues, and are comfortable in discussion of the topic. In preparation for interviewing, the selection committee members should determine the questions they wish to ask the applicant. These will be guided by the job description or responsibilities of the position, and the expectations of the individual. The applicant’s resume, and information provided by the application form and/or screen form will be reviewed by the committee prior to the interview to ensure applicable education and experience, and identify any areas of concern that need to be clarified during the interview.


During the interview the applicant will receive a clear and direct statement about the church’s general concern for the safety of children and that policies are in place to this end. Conduct expectations towards children/youth are provided in writing, and reviewed. The applicant is asked if he/she anticipates any difficulty meeting the expectations. Any breach of conduct expectations, including breaches of the Child Abuse Policy, will be grounds for church discipline including dismissal from the office/employment. Such a breach, if leading to a dismissal, will be for cause.


A written summary of the interview is completed.


c. References:


The Screening Form asks for two references who can speak to the applicant’s work/volunteer experience and character, and the names of contact persons from each of the churches with which he/she has been involved over the past five years. Both references and all of the church contact persons are contacted. A written record is made of each contact and the information received. (See attached sample of report form)


d. Criminal Records Check:


The Screening Form asks for the provision of a criminal records search in the event that the position is offered. The applicant can either be requested to provide verification of an up-to-date search, or be asked to cover the church’s cost of having one done. In either case a criminal records search is a necessary part of the recruitment process. In the case of returning volunteers, this would be done at the beginning of their ministry to children/youth and would not be required on an annual basis.


e. Approval Process:


Once all of the above steps have been completed, a decision is made as to the applicant’s suitability for the position. The information obtained through each of the recruitment steps is reviewed by the selection committee (or pastor / department leader in the case of a volunteer), and a recommendation made to the appropriate authority, e.g., the Official Board, the Christian Education Director.


f. Records:


An individual file is established for each applicant. The file contains the complete record of the recruitment process, i.e., resume, application and/or screening form; interview summary; reference and contact check information; and criminal records search. The confidentiality of these records is essential. They are stored in a filing cabinet that can be locked and access is limited and controlled by the pastor, or a designated individual. Access to personnel records is limited to individuals who carry immediate responsibility for the applicable program(s). An oath of confidentiality can be requested to emphasis the importance of keeping confidential personnel related information. (See attached statement)


The church must address the issue of child sexual abuse directly and openly. Although the above procedure may appear overwhelming for congregations who rely on a large number of volunteers, a documented screening process must be followed to safeguard children / youth and to reduce liability. Each part of the procedure should be completed before individuals begin work / involvement in programs. Present employees / volunteers should be required to complete the Screening Form, provide references / contacts, and provide verification of a criminal records search.


Anyone who identify sexual activity with a child/youth, or who have been convicted of any sexual crime is not appropriate candidate for any position of authority or trust, particularly involving children and youth.


Occasionally individuals will freely admit to criminal convictions of sexual abuse, or sexual behaviour involving children and/or youth, but insist that they have since had a conversion experience and no longer present a risk. Anyone with a history of sexual perpetration is not an acceptable candidate for positions of trust involving children and youth. The question is not whether conversion has occurred, but one of accepting responsibility. Not accepting responsibility for their behaviour is one of the characteristics of sexual perpetrators. Claiming conversion can be a method of avoiding responsibility. One of the components of treatment and behaviour control is a relapse prevention program. Perpetrators who are walking with the Lord, and taking responsibility for their past actions, will realize the danger of being involved in situations that increase their risk to re-offend. This condition is similar to that of a reformed alcoholics who recognize that they must avoid all alcohol. A church that permits such an individual to work with children or youth, on the basis of the professed religious conversion, will have a virtually indefensible position should another incident of abuse occur.


4.2 Training


Training will be provided or arranged by the church and required of all paid employees and those volunteers working with children/youth. Training will include the following topics:


* defining sexual abuse;

* the short and long term effects of abuse;

* the disclosure process and how to receive a disclosure;

* the requirement to report abuse;

* the need to work with civic authorities throughout the investigation of the allegation;

* awareness of applicable church policies and procedures. An opportunity will be provided for each volunteer to read these within a designated period of time, e.g., 6 weeks of assuming responsibility. He/she will verify, by way of signature, having read and understood these.


Training sessions will be organised to allow that all new staff members and volunteers have opportunity to attend within two months of assuming their responsibilities. Local and/or denominational resource professions will be accessed to ensure expertise. A record of each individual’s attendance will be kept in his/her personnel file.


4.3 Individual Conduct


It is expected that all paid employees and volunteers will not abuse positions of authority and/or trust to trick, trap, coerce or bribe another individual, regardless of age, into a sexual experience. It is expected that he/she will respect the personal boundaries and dignity of others. It is expected that conduct will not include behaviour and/or activity that are defined by the Criminal Code of Canada as constituting a sexual offence.


It is expected that concern and caring will be conveyed to young children by:


* addressing children at eye level;

* speaking kindly and listening carefully to what the child is saying;

* comforting and quieting by placing an arm around the shoulders;

* affirming by patting the head (if culturally appropriate), hand, shoulder or back;

* holding a child by the shoulders or hand to keep his/her attention, or to direct his/her movements;

* gently hold a child’s chin to help him/her focus on what the adult is saying.


It is expected that the staff member or volunteer will avoid the following behaviours / activities with children and youth:


* kissing, extended frontal hugs and tickling;

* touching of breasts, thighs, buttock, and genital areas (the child’s, youth’s or the adult’s);

* physically carrying older children or having them sit on the adult’s lap;

* discussing personal private matters with a child;

* dating between a youth and a volunteer.


5 Supervision and Staffing Guidelines


Children and youth programming requires staffing in a variety of settings, for a variety of purposes and to accommodate varied developmental competencies of participants. The following guidelines are intended to highlight areas where precautions need to be taken. Implementing these can enhance the quality of programming by ensuring a safe and comfortable environment for all.


5.1 General Guidelines and Precautions


a. Staffing Pattern:


Adopt a two-volunteer staffing pattern, either two adults or one adult and one adolescent. In no circumstances should two adolescents be assigned responsibility for children and/or youth. A team approach allows for flexibility in handling specific situations, and can facilitate the development of leadership and teaching skills.


b. Visibility and Accessibility:


Ensure that there is visibility and easy access to any classroom or group activity area. This may require that windows be installed, doors remain open, or that a supervisor make periodic, unannounced, visits.


c. Registration:


Programs for nurseries and pre-school aged children will provide a sign-in sheet, identifying the child’s name, parent / caregiver’s name and location during the class / activity time, and the names of the volunteers accepting the child. Children are not accepted until they are received by a volunteer and properly registered. A child will be released to a parent or to a representative only on the basis of prior, written notification from the parent and proof of identification.


d. Monitoring:


Regular monitoring of the property / area will be done to ensure that out-of-the-way places, or places that provide a level of privacy are not being accessed by individuals (older children, adolescents, adults) as places to lure and abuse others. Examples of spaces that will be regularly checked include: bathrooms, storage areas, unused rooms, poorly lit areas inside and outside the building.


5.2 Nursery


Nurseries for children under two years will be staffed by two volunteers, one of which must be an adult. The diapering area will be separate, but visible and accessible from the main activity area. This arrangement allows both a level of privacy for the child and openness between team members. Only assigned volunteers (i.e., those who have completed the recruitment process) will work in the nursery.


5.3 School Ages (2-5/6 years)


Volunteer teams working with pre-schoolers will include at least one adult. (To facilitate same-gender bathroom assistance, teams should include both males and females.) Parents will be encouraged to ensure that their children use the bathroom prior to joining the class/activity. If a child requires the bathroom facility during class/activity, one volunteer will advise the team partner that he/she is escorting the child to the bathroom. The child will be escorted to the bathroom door, and asked if he/she needs further assistance. If not, the volunteer will stay outside the door until the child exits. If the child requires assistance in the washroom, a female volunteer will provide this for girls and a male for boys. While the volunteer is in the bathroom with the child, the bathroom door will remain ajar (by propping open if necessary). Encouraging the child to do as much for him/herself as possible and modelling that the bathroom is a “private” place for the child, builds the child’s sense of personal boundaries.


5.4 Elementary Ages (6-12 years)


A volunteer may need to escort a child to the bathroom (depending on location, the child’s familiarity with the facility and the child’s ability), but assistance within the bathroom should not be required and will not be given. If a child requires assistance, the child’s parent will be asked to provide this. If the child is escorted to the bathroom, the volunteer will wait, outside the door, to escort the child back to the group. A volunteer will not be alone with a child in an unsupervised bathroom, and will never enter a stall with a child and close the door.


5.5 Special Day and Overnight Events


Special events that occur on or off church premises will be pre-planned, sanctioned by a designated body / person (e.g., the church board, C.E. Director), and advertised at least one week in advance. Depending upon the activity, written parental consent may be required.


Only assigned volunteers will be involved in these events and will be named in the advance advertising. Functions that include all boys will be staffed by at least two male volunteers. Functions that include all girls will be staffed by at least two females. Co-educational groups require male and female staff members. A participant-to-leader ratio of 10 to two is recommended as a minimum for children under age 12 years.


5.6 Special Areas of Concern


a. Transportation:


Transportation arrangements will be organised so that a driver is not alone with a child/youth. Parents will be requested to bring their children to, and collect them from, the church whenever possible.


b. Counselling:


One-on-one counselling will always be arranged with the knowledge of the parent, or a ministry related third party. The meeting will occur in a public place, or a place that allows for easy visibility and access. The adult will arrange the seating so as to not be between the child/youth and the door. This allows the child/youth freedom to leave the room at any time. The door will always be left ajar.


6 Attitude of Openness


One of the most powerful control mechanisms used by perpetrators against victims is imposed secrecy. Silence is enforced through threat of further harm to the victim, of harm to another person and/or that the victim will not be believed if a disclosure were to be made. If the perpetrator holds a position of social stature or of authority within the congregation, this latter form of intimidation is particularly powerful.


An attitude of openness by church and program leaders about sexual abuse can counteract the intimidation of the abuser and make it easier for victims to disclose any inappropriate behaviour and personal violation. It is important for children/youth to know they can tell someone of the abuse, and that they will be believed.


Openness can be conveyed in a number of ways: sexual abuse can be named from the pulpit as an inappropriate action and one that the church will take action against; training sessions can be advertised and open; children/youth workers can be alert to individual behaviours and emotional states of children and youth, and initiate statements of awareness and concern. Sexual abuse can be discussed as part of the curriculum, thereby letting children and youth know directly that they have access to leaders.


7 Reporting Requirements


It is required by law that disclosures, or awareness, of alleged sexual abuse be reported to designated civic authorities. The identity of the reporter is protected by law.


Reporting requirements are mandated by provincial child welfare legislation. Copies of this legislation can be obtained through local provincial offices. It is recommended that each church obtain a copy of the Act and that leaders familiarize themselves with those section which define child abuse and specify reporting requirements. In addition, church leaders should become aware of the names and phone numbers of the appropriate child welfare and police resources in their community to which reports of abuse can be made.


Child welfare legislation defines circumstances and conditions in addition to sexual abuse that also carry the responsibility to report, e.g., neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse. These are significant dangers to children and youth. Children’s ministry leaders should be familiar with the definitions and signs of these forms of child maltreatment and be prepared to take appropriate and protective action.


The church will establish procedures for the reporting of any allegations of occurrence or disclosure of abuse to the leadership of the church (e.g., the pastor, the C.E. Director, the Board). If the alleged abuser is a leader in the church, he/she cannot be made aware of the disclosure prior to the investigation beginning. Other leaders must assume responsibility and work with civic and denominational resources in handling the situation.


8 Handling Abuse Disclosures


When a disclosure of abuse is made, it is critical that the church work with the civic authorities. The responsibility to investigate the allegation rests with the civic authorities, not with the church. Sexual abuse is a criminal offence and must be investigated by those who have the appropriate expertise and legal authority.


An employee against whom an allegation of sexual abuse is made will be suspended with pay from all positions of authority and activities that give him/her access to children. However, the timing of the suspension will be arranged in co-ordination with the child welfare / police investigation so as to not jeopardize the investigation or contaminate evidence. See the companion statement on Responding to Abuse Disclosure for a more complete discussion of handling occurrences and disclosures of child sexual abuse.


9 Purpose


The sexual abuse of children and youth not only violates the body, but compromises emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual development. It is a trauma that brings confusion, anger, fear, anxiety and guilt to the victim. It results in a personal sense of worthlessness, rejection and abandonment that continues long after the incidents of abuse have stopped. When the abuse is at the hands of a parent or someone who professes to be a Christian, the experience distorts the victim’s concept of God and creates significant barriers to spiritual growth.


Child sexual abuse is also a criminal offence.


That abuse occurs within our society is a recognised and widely documented fact. That many children and youth are victims is also an established fact. Sadly, being a member of a community of faith does not reduce the risk of being abused. Many victims identify their abusers as members of their own church communities. Abusers may be family members (e.g., parents, siblings); individuals in positions of trust or authority within the congregation (e.g., child or youth workers, leaders, pastors); or they may be members at large who, because of their affiliation, have trusted access to children and youth (e.g., adolescents who baby-sit or assist in programs).


When abuse occurs within the congregation the impact goes beyond the violation experienced by the victim. Trust has been broken with the victim’s family, with members of the abuser’s family, with friends, and with the congregation at large.


The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines for handling abuse situations that occur within the congregation. Specifically it outlines steps for ministry to perpetrators by hold them accountable in order to facilitate repentance, restitution, restoration and reconciliation.


(The reader is referred to the document “Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse” for guidelines designed to prevent sexual abuse from occurring within the congregation, and for the legal definition of child sexual abuse.)


10 Understanding Abusers


When sexual abuse occurs within the congregation, the church is faced with a problem that requires a multifaceted response. The behaviour signals spiritual and psychological dysfunction on the part of the perpetrator. It is also illegal behaviour. There is need to afford safety and support to the victim(s), and ensure the safety of potential victims. A process needs to be put in place that facilitates healing for those involved and affected. The church’s response can only be effective if it is grounded in an understanding of those who abuse.


The information that follows is intended to provide a cursory review of the demographic, psychological, cognitive and spiritual profile of sexual offenders. The nature of this document does not allow for a more in-depth discussion. The reader is encouraged to do additional reading on this subject. The references in the Bibliography can serve as a helpful beginning point.


10.1 Demographic Profile


Gender: Most sexual abusers are heterosexual males (i.e., 90%). The majority of victims are girls, although it is believed that more boys are victims than is reported.


Age: Sexual abusive behaviour often begins in adolescence and continues throughout adulthood. It is estimated that 25% of sexual abuse in Canada is perpetrated by adolescents. Fourteen percent of those imprisoned for sexual offenses against children are under 21 years of age. On average, a perpetrator is in his mid-30s when his behaviour is reported.


Marital Status: Most adult perpetrators are married with children. Those involved in incest have stable (albeit dysfunctional) and long-term marriages.


Occupation and Education: All occupations, professions (including the clergy), and educational levels are represented.


Religious Affiliation: All faiths and Christian denominations are represented among known offenders. Many who have a church affiliation are members of conservation, fundamental Protestant organizations. In fact, the second highest risk factor for children becoming victims for incest is for their families to belong to a conservative religious group that espouses traditional male-female roles and rigid sexual attitudes (Heggen, p. 73). It is believed that this risk stems from several factors. Sexual offenders are attracted to firm belief systems that identify absolute rights and wrongs. Given their rigid personalities, with little awareness or insight into their own, or others’ emotional states, they find it difficult to make decisions, and to deal with the ambiguities of life that are inherent in a more flexible belief system.


A belief system that holds males as dominant and superior to submissive women and children provides abusers with justification to enforce their control and to see family members more as objects for their gratification than as separate and unique individuals. The family dynamics revolve around the meeting of the husband’s / father’s needs with little open discussion of feelings, attitudes or opinions, including sexual issues. Without open communication and respect for personal integrity within the family, children can become victims and lack the supports needed to seek protection and advocacy.


Occurrence Rates: Numerous studies confirm that child molesters have a high number of victims, and that individual victims are repeatedly abused. Many offenders count their victims in the hundreds.


Risk of Conviction: The risk of the abuse being reported and the offender convicted is minimal. Most abuse incidents are not reported, and of those that are, only a small portion result in convictions. One offender, interviewed recently on the CBC, stated that of his 200 odd victims, only two reported the abuse. Most sexual perpetrators are not in prison - they are living in the community, and may be part of any community of faith.


10.2 Psychological and Spiritual Profile


There are a number of common characteristics that mark the emotional, cognitive and spiritual functioning of sexual perpetrators. These include:


Childhood Trauma: Many share childhood experiences of being victimised themselves through emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse, family violence and emotional deprivation.


Emotional Functioning: These are individuals who experience deep feelings of personal inadequacy, low self-esteem, helplessness and powerlessness. Their acts of abuse often are attempts to gain a sense of control through the exercise of power over someone more vulnerable than themselves. The sexual abuse exhibits limited insight into his own behaviour and feelings, and is insensitive to the needs and feelings of others. He often is unable to recognize the harm - physical, emotional, social and spiritual - he causes his victims.


Defence Patterns: Most perpetrators develop defence mechanisms and patterns of thinking that allow them to justify, and thus continue, their behaviour. Denial is the most prevalent of these defences. When confronted, most perpetrators will either deny that the behaviour occurred or will minimise the severity of it. These patterns are evident even in the face of obvious facts. Typical statements include: the event did not happen; this was the first time; the behaviour was not what it seemed; it was not as severe as reported by the victim.


Another common defence mechanism is to minimise responsibility and project blame onto the victim, e.g., the child consented to the behaviour. (Children under the age of 14 years are considered by law incapable of giving informed consent.) Common statements include: “I didn’t know what I was doing”; “I couldn’t help myself” (claiming the influence of drugs, alcohol or uncontrollable sexual urges).


It is not surprising that, given their restricted emotional development, many perpetrators have difficulty with intimate peer relationship, and with maintaining and enhancing long-term relationships. They are often more comfortable with children than with their peers and begin to view children as their equals. They rationalize that children have sexual knowledge and desires that are, in reality, not consistent with the child’s physical, social, and emotional development. With this rationalisation in place they see children as not only wanting sex, but enjoying it.


Spiritual Functioning: From a spiritual standpoint, perpetrators have not committed an unpardonable sin. On the other hand, they are involved in sin that has been glossed over with self-deception and selfishness. They need help: to come to grips (in confession) with the multidimensional nature of their sin; to develop and exercise self-control (repentance) over their behaviour; and to develop and maintain (discipleship) a new way of life internally and externally.




Planned Parenthood Invades Youth Groups (Free Congress Foundation, 040311)


What has happened to the organizations for young people that were supposed to reflect -- even advocate -- our Judeo-Christian ideals?


Take, for instance, the Girl Scout Promise. It states, “On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.”


Then there is the statement for the Young Men’s Christian Association that asserts the organization’s mission is: “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.”


Recently there were two instances that demonstrated the loss of true faith that pervades many of the people who run these organizations. Replacing that faith is a hollowed out belief in secularism, equivalent to the Easter egg that has a chocolate coating on the outside but no filling.


Many people will think how hard-hearted to call for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies. The fact is that the local Girl Scout organization had recognized a Planned Parenthood executive by presenting her a “woman of distinction award.” Worse, the local Girl Scout organization had endorsed a Planned Parenthood sex education program which admittedly claimed not to officially mention abortion but provided material on masturbation, homosexuality, and illustrations of couples having sex. A half-day conference called “Nobody’s Fool” was held in Waco each July attended by 400 to 700 girls ranging in age from 10 - 14 years old.


Brownie leader Donna Coody disbanded her troop, explaining why in an Associated Press article: “You’re telling these girls to raise their fingers up to honor God and country, and yet you’re handing out material saying homosexuality is OK.”


Another mother, Lisa Aguilar, a self-described non-activist, just a concerned mom, removed her daughter from a local Girl Scout troop. “For us, it’s the morality. Where is Girl Scouts going?”


Pro-Life Waco decided enough was enough. Because a local pro-life activist, Dr. John Pisciotta, an economics professor, spoke up through an e-mail and then a sixty second spot on a local Christian radio station, interest and controversy was generated throughout West Texas, giving rise to the boycott and troop withdrawals as well as coverage by local and national newspapers, which only furthered awareness of what was going on and creating added controversy. He also says an instruction book was provided to girls in grades 7 to 9 that did contain a chapter that listed nine ‘good reasons’ why women have abortions.


The local Girl Scout Council abandoned its tie to Planned Parenthood. Local mothers have now decided to form their own organization for girls based on a Christian curriculum.


When Dr. Pisciotta appeared on the Today show last week he noted that an abstinence program, McLennan County Collaborative Abstinence Project (McCAP), is available. Rather than associating themselves with this program, the local Girl Scouts chose the objectionable Planned Parenthood program.


This is a great example of concerned local activists taking the initiative to challenge a popular organization that has lost sight of the principles upon which it was founded. The Girls Scouts was designed to help young girls grow to be women of character and faith and patriotism, not underage Playboy bunnies.


But this is not the last that will be heard of the issue. Dr. Pisciotta plans to “rev it up” and he sparred with Kathy Cloninger, the national head of the Girl Scouts on the Today show. Officially, the national Girl Scouts organization has no affiliation with Planned Parenthood, but Kathy Cloninger made clear that if it’s okay with local organizations to have alliances with a sex education and abortion advocacy organization, then it’s okay with her.


She said local Girl Scout councils “tackle the issues of human sexuality” and that local councils have “relationships” with Planned Parenthood chapters and will continue to do so. She emphasized that Girl Scouts partner with like-minded organizations such as Planned Parenthood to provide “information-based sex education programs” which means programs devoid of any Christian values.


Then there is the battle with the YMCA of Greater St. Paul regarding the decision to rent a camping facility to Planned Parenthood to conduct mother-daughter, father-son sex education workshops that sound similar to those that have been staged in West Texas.


Darla Meyers, a “Catholic-Christian pro-life advocate,” was appalled to discover what was going on and is leading a campaign to try to return the local YMCA to its moral bearings. That will be very tough because the local YMCA appears resolute in its decision to rent to the local chapter of the nation’s largest provider of abortions. The local YMCA evidently places profit above values. However, the Urban League decided to cancel a father-son retreat to be held at the camp in conjunction with Planned Parenthood.


Darla and her husband, Michael, have a good line that puts everything in the proper perspective: “Don’t Let Planned Parenthood Take the ‘C’ Out Of the YMCA.”


American Life League’s Ed Szymkowiak is dispensing useful advice for pro-life and traditional values activists across the country by urging them to check out what alliances local organizations such as the Girls Scouts and the YMCA may have with organizations such as Planned Parenthood. He urges campaigns to have such local youth organizations and their national offices pass resolutions establishing clear policies that forbid promotion or alliances with organizations that provide or advocate abortion, graphic sexual education, or contraception.


What’s happening in West Texas and in Greater St. Paul is the equivalent of Boston Tea Parties, awakening concerned Christians and Jews throughout the nation to resist the urge to support local Girl Scout councils or YMCAs that are in alliance or do business with Planned Parenthood. My colleague, Bill Lind, has long discussed the idea of establishing “resistance” to organizations that have lost their bearing. Home schooling was one example in which Christian parents resisted the secular teachings of the public schools. The resistance displayed in West Texas and Greater St. Paul is another. They are to be welcome and emulated. Finally, Christians and Jews who believe in traditional Judeo-Christian values are starting to realize that they are mad and they really do not have to take it anymore.


Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.