Sexual abuse series – Assess your risk management
According to the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, only 38% of children who have been sexually abused ever report it. Of those who do report the abuse, 90% are abused by someone they or their families know.
In the Church Mutual claims department, we receive at least one call a day about suspected abuse or abuse allegations. While any organization serving children is vulnerable to situations like this, houses of worship especially are at risk because they rely heavily on volunteers and may not invest the extra time and money in risk management.
The following questions are a good place to start as you determine the best way to protect your organization’s most vulnerable:
Do we run criminal background checks on anyone who interacts with children in our facilities?
Not only are background checks essential, but you also should implement a screening process for your organization to help you differentiate between a risky applicant and one who is qualified to serve. That screening process should include a comprehensive application, reference check and interview.
Are children ever alone with an adult who is not a member of their family?
There always should be at least two adults present whenever children are involved—and that includes online interactions such as video conferencing and email. Whenever an adult is sending an email to a child, they should always send a copy to that child’s parent.
Do your people know how to recognize and report suspicious activity?
Child sexual abusers know how to exploit holes in an organization’s practices, and your job is to create multiple layers of protection so no holes remain. One of those layers is sexual abuse awareness training that includes identification of grooming behaviors. As stated earlier, fewer than half of children who are abused ever report it. So, it often falls on adults to recognize suspicious behavior and report it. And it is crucial that organizational leaders take steps to make sure everyone knows to whom they should report their suspicions.
Do you have an insurance agent who is knowledgeable about child sexual abuse situations?
Your agent should have experience working on sexual abuse cases. He or she needs to be able to advise on coverages and the appropriate next steps if an abuse case should arise.
Church Mutual has partnered with MinistrySafe | Abuse Prevention Systems to help its customers put safeguards in place to protect children. Additionally, Church Mutual’s agents and brokers have an extensive understanding of insurance coverage needed for child sexual abuse.
Click here to learn about the importance of adequate insurance coverage when it comes to sexual abuse allegations.
For more information about preventing child sexual abuse, visit churchmutual.com/abuse.