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How do we safeguard the children in our churches from sexual predators?

There are several layers inherent in your question. The first layer has to do with sexual predators themselves. It is important to realize that predators do not have a mental illness or an innate “condition” they cannot address adequately. Sexual predators are struggling with (or indulging) an addictive need to fulfill sexual urges toward children or teens. Like any other addiction, the only “cure” is for the addicted person to acknowledge they have a problem, seek help in order to counteract the damage caused by the addiction, and resolve to practice strict abstinence with the help of counselors and/or by joining a sexual addiction support group similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.  

A sexual predator has much to lose if found to be indulging their addiction, so predators outwardly act and look the same as anyone else. They can be successful, charming neighbors and friends with successful careers. However, predators will seek volunteer or job opportunities that will allow for access to children or teens for self-gratification. 

Because predators are able to blend in successfully as part of church communities, churches must do everything in their power to minimize the danger to children and teens. Therefore the second layer of your question is the responsibility of each church to achieve as much safety as possible through well-crafted sexual abuse prevention and response policies. For help with their part, churches can contact the Christian Reformed denomination’s Safe Church Ministry.  

Ideally, both the sexually addicted person and the church will take responsibility for each layer that together will ensure maximum safety of the church's children and teens.

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