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Handling a Child Abuse Allegation – Webinar Link

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Effectively handling abuse allegation warrants careful proactive planning, not just reacting when the unthinkable happens. In churches and other childcare settings this means taking critical steps like worker screening, training, attentiveness to legal compliance, and readiness for addressing each situation with its own unique issues. We are pleased to provide access to Church Law & Tax’s on-demand Handling A Child Abuse Allegation in Your Church webinar, available here, which addresses these important issues in a lively Q & A format. W&O’s Partner Sally Wagenmaker served as one of the panelists, along with attorney Rob Showers, attorney Theresa Sidebotham, and Jeff Dalrymple of the Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention.[1]

Key takeaways: (1) report suspected child abuse ASAP, as required per applicable state mandated reporter laws; (2) wait to internally investigate until after government investigation is complete; (3) address ministry and other organizational concerns wholistically for both victims and alleged perpetrators family, according to Biblical or other appropriate standards; and (4) evaluate and possibly investigate further for liability or other concerns, such as employment or volunteer issues, preferably through an outside professional with experience and objectivity.

And there’s much more! Webinar panelists address questions like who is mandated to report a child abuse allegation, and when? How – and to what extent – should the church communicate with an alleged victim, the alleged perpetrator, and others within the church or related organizations? What resources are available to help organizations become better equipped to handle child abuse allegations? Additionally, what about Biblical standards concerning dispute resolution?

The way in which an organization entrusted with childcare responsibility responds to an allegation is incredibly important, and it can have long-lasting impact for organizations and individuals alike. Careful handling of sensitive information, legal compliance, swift response time, and ongoing care for alleged victims and perpetrators are all more effectively attained when approaching them with a solid foundation of understanding child protection. As reflected in the webinar presenters’ closing advice, poorly handling child protection issues (including investigations) can lead to an organization’s crashing downfall. On the other hand, effectively addressing such issues can demonstrate much-needed compassion, appropriate diligence, and above all love for both children and those who care for them.

[1] For more information about child abuse statistics and the Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention, visit its website here. Helpful resources and guides for improving child protection within a church or ministry setting may also be found on ECAP’s website. More about ECAP’s initial launch and its accreditation program can be found in one of our law firm’s prior blog articles here.

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