Churches have always sought to be a safe haven for children and families, but many today are dealing with the tragic reality of child sexual abuse. For the first time in history, this issue is finally being acknowledged by churches and faith communities. But the task of developing a policy to keep children safe can seem too overwhelming—it feels like an impossible task to plan for every contingency. This results in churches neglecting to put working safety plans in place, leaving themselves, and the children they care for, vulnerable.
This handbook, supported by a multidisciplinary team of child abuse experts, is designed to help churches and faith communities formulate policies and procedures to protect children and deal with possible child abuse in their ministries, school, and church. By walking through a wide range of scenarios, this book will assist churches and ministries to assess their current child abuse policies and guide them through each step they should take to address the safety of children under their care.
Covering vitally important topics including the warning signs of abuse, how to respond to abuse allegations and care for victims, and the legal implications and requirements for churches and Christian ministries, working through this book will guide churches and Christian ministries in creating and implementing policies to protect children in a Christian environment from child abuse. This handbook is an invaluable resource for Christians who are seeking to educate themselves and others about child abuse and how they can best protect the little ones under their care.
Basyle (Boz) Tchividjian is a former child-abuse prosecutor who currently teaches “Child Abuse and the Law” and several other courses at Liberty University School of Law. Professor Tchividjian is also the founder and executive director of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). The third eldest grandchild of Reverend Billy Graham, he wrote the book Invitation: Billy Graham and the Lives God Touched.
Shira M. Berkovits is founder and CEO of Sacred Spaces, a cross-denominational initiative to create systemic solutions to abuse in communal institutions. In this capacity she has worked with faith communities around the world to develop policies and training to prevent and respond to institutional abuse. She is a psychologist and attorney, and has completed postdoctoral fellowships in child trauma and rehabilitative alternatives to incarceration. Prior to founding Sacred Spaces, Dr. Berkovits worked on issues of youth advocacy, child protection, and criminal justice reform.
“Many abused and neglected children have left the faith community because they found that churches are unable or unwilling to protect them. In contrast, many sex offenders love to go to church because they know that weak policies and poor training give them the best chance to get away with their crimes. The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide is a comprehensive, concrete resource that will aid churches in keeping children safe, holding offenders accountable, and witnessing their commitment to care for the least of these.”
Victor Vieth, Senior Director & Founder, Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center
“Nobody relishes a good long talk about child abuse—especially at church. But any place where trusting children gather provides opportunities for the predator. That makes child abuse a necessary discussion for any ministry. This book provides expert advice and guidance for that conversation. I pray God will use it to bring protection to many young lives.”
Paul O. Wendland, President and Professor of New Testament Studies, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary
“As his aunt, I have known Basyle Tchividjian since before he was born. I can attest to his strong Christian character, his great sense of fun, his love for his family, his commitment to awaken the church to the growing epidemic of child sexual abuse, and his passion to do something about it. He has my applause!”
Anne Graham Lotz, Author; speaker; chairperson of the National Day of Prayer; Supporter of Grace; www.annegrahamlotz.org
“Simply put, The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide is now the standard for any ministry desiring to create safe and protected environments where the precious souls of children can flourish. This guide provides the direction needed to implement a complete care system that prevents abuse, as well as loving interventions for those affected when the unimaginable happens. I can’t think of anyone more qualified than Boz and his team to write this groundbreaking guide.”
Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado, President and CEO, Compassion International
“The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide is a much-needed, beautifully-researched resource created for churches and ministries so that all children can be protected, heard, and healed in a predatory world. Every church should read this book and put its succinct and simple policies into practice.”
Mary DeMuth, Author of over thirty books, including Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing after Sexual Abuse
“Jesus said, ‘Bring the children to me. . . .’ This is the definitive guide for protecting those whom we are seeking to bring to him. Detailed, practical, specific, and with appropriate recognition of when and how exceptions may be made to ‘gold standard policies,’ The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide should be in every church and Christian school library in the world.”
Samuel T. Logan, Associate International Director, The World Reformed Fellowship
“To be welcomed into a church is to be welcomed into the arms of God’s people. It is meant to be a welcoming embrace of love. Any predatory threat to any person in that church tragically harms the whole church and poisons its capacity to embrace. Basyle Tchividjian has offered to the church an enormous gift by offering not only policies and guidelines for protecting children, but also teaching us on a subject too many have avoided. I am grateful for his thoroughness and his obvious pastor’s heart. Christian leaders should take heed.”
Greg Brewer, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida
“The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide is a book every church pastor, staff member, teacher, youth worker, and women’s ministry leader should read. Written by a team of child abuse experts, and coauthored by Basyle Tchividjian of GRACE, this book offers solid practical advice for keeping church children safe from sexual and other forms of abuse. It is a must read and I highly recommend this book.”
Denise George, Author of over thirty books, including What Pastors Wish Church Members Knew
“Being a local church pastor for almost fifty years, I know of no better organization or system of safeguarding the children of our church than GRACE ministries. I have learned from and admired Boz for years. This amazing book gives every church the best equipping tool to protect our most precious congregants (our children) from the most heinous of acts.”
Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland, A Church Distributed
“Child abuse is a fearful, uncomfortable, and shocking topic that some church leaders may want to ignore. But Jesus’s ministers must run TOWARD the battle. We’re called to disciple children to be worshipers of God—but you can’t disciple an unsafe child. Safeguarding is a spiritual pursuit. Basyle Tchividjian and the GRACE team have crafted an invaluable resource to educate and guide church leaders in building a safe discipling environment for children. We’ve used this training at Thomas Road Baptist and will definitely utilize this guide with our team.”
Matt Willmington, Director of Ministries, Thomas Road Baptist Church
“The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries is a crucially important handbook for the protection of our children. Churches and faith communities should be one of the safest places for children to grow up, learn, and play. Tragically, this is not always the case. Basyle Tchividjian and Shira Berkovits bring not only their hearts to this mission but years of dedication and experience in this field.
This book is an answer to prayer for those who deeply desire to protect the children of their communities and who are seeking practical guidance in how to achieve this. Protecting our most vulnerable should always be of absolute importance for all of us. Amidst the untold suffering and silence, we hear the words of Christ in our hearts saying, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’”
Jonathan Jackson, Star of CMT’s Nashville; Lead singer of Enation; author of The Mystery of Art
“This book could save your ministry. As a seminary president, I am mindful of the insidious challenge of child sexual abuse in what should be the safest of places—church. Boz Tchividjian and G.R.A.C.E. have provided guidelines to help churches avoid such tragedies and if they occur, how to deal with them. The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide should be required reading for every pastor, church worker, and seminarian. As uncomfortable as this topic is, Christians cannot avoid it.”
Frank A. James, President and Professor of Historical Theology, Biblical Theological Seminary
“Scripture tells us to ‘speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves’—that has to include children! They have no more courageous a defender than my friend Boz, who is passionate about helping the church protect its children. Our good intentions are not enough. Use this excellent, comprehensive, and practical guide, developed by experts incorporating best-practice child protection policies and procedures, to help your church or ministry recognize, prevent and respond to child abuse. Make sure your environment is safe for innocent children and unsafe for those who would do them harm. A very important book!”
Wess Stafford, President Emeritus, Compassion International
“Forty-five years of counseling, writing, and speaking have shown me that the church is a powerful system—one meant by God to bend down as he did and care for least. I have also learned that powerful systems can easily be dangerous places for the small and the vulnerable. Sadly, the church has often protected abusers and itself, thus further traumatizing victims. The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide, coauthored by Basyle Tchividjian and Shira Berkovits, is the first book that provides the A to Z of developing comprehensive child protection policies. It is my prayer that the gift of this resource will transform the church, so she is known as a refuge for all."
Diane Langberg, Psychologist; author of Suffering and the Heart of God
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Longtime and long-distance friends see each other as they attend the funeral of a loved one. Their likely response will share the following sentiment: “Although I wish it were not due to this circumstance, it is great to see you.” Such a statement explains how I feel about Basyle Tchividjian and Shira M Berkovits’ new book The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries. Although I wish we did not need this resource, the reality is child sexual abuse is a problem in our culture and, yes, very much so within the church. Silence on the issue will only empower the problem. Words of truth are good, but they need to be followed up with action. This resource equips church and ministries to do just that and, for that reason, I am glad for it. Designed as a resource to accompany certification at GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries walk individuals and groups through forming a child protection policy for their church or ministry. In Section 1, the authors lay the foundation by defining abuse (chapter 1), considering the indicators and impact of abuse (chapters 2–3), and taking a closer look at people who sexually abuse children (chapter 4). Section 2 lists protective policies churches must carry out, both formal and informal (chapters 5–7). However, even with protective practices abuse may still occur. Section 3 of the policy addresses that unfortunate truth and equips churches and ministries in responding to policy violations and child abuse (chapters 8–11). Sections 4–5 wrap up the guide by informing groups how they can show support to sexual abuse survivors and encouraging all churches and ministries to live out the policy. Three appendices on forming a committee to form a policy, giving sample forms, and empowering children are included. The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries by Basyle Tchividjian and Shira M Berkovits is an unfortunate resource our churches and ministries need. This guide trains churches and ministries to protect from, prevent against, and rightly respond to child sexual abuse. The greatest asset this book offers is it empowers churches and ministries to form and customize their own child protection policy so as “to create a culture where children can flourish with healthy intergenerational relationships” (Tchividjian and Berkovits 15). As a pastor over the youth ministry of my church, I strongly encourage intergenerational relationships in the church. I also have a heart for youth to grow in their love for Jesus and for His church. So I understand the importance of what Basyle and Shira have done in writing this guide. In the church, we have a problem. We cannot ignore this problem. It is there. But what we can do is speak up for the most vulnerable and carry out a policy to protect them and care for them in our churches. I plan on encouraging our church to work through this timely guide and I challenge you to encourage your church or ministry to do the same!
Our children's leadership team went thru this resource last fall and we think it's the "gold standard" for church child protection. Very comprehensive.