Parish and school leaders, as representatives of the Church, have a distinct responsibility to be advocates for our young people in the Church arena. Those involved in the Church's ministry must always be mindful of the balance between appropriate boundaries and the relational character of youth ministry. One of the most important strategies for preventing abusive experiences is to educate communities on the signs and characteristics of "right" and "not right" or abusive relationships. Churches, schools, and youth organizations are required by law in most states to ensure that young people who worship, study, or participate in activities sponsored therein do so in the safest and most secure setting possible. Parents and caretakers must have confidence in these institutions before they will allow their children to become involved with them This book is designed to assist institutions in instilling that confidence. Part A of the manual includes an in-depth discussion on sexual abuse, sexual offender, and signs of abuse, as well as a candid chapter regarding sexual abuse and the Church. It also includes a compelling reflection written by a sexual abuse survivor. Part B of the manual includes training and education sessions for young people, ministry leaders, and parents. Information ranging from the facts and myths of sexual assault to media messages about women, men, improper relationships, and improper touching are included. A listening session that allows young people to gather in a safe and trusting place to voice their feelings, thoughts, and concerns when Church scandal occurs is also provided. Part C includes a variety of additional resources for addressing the issues of sexual abuse: a sample code of conduct; a sample parish statement for those working with young people; questions (and commentary) for screening volunteers; recommended organizations, Web sites, and video and print resources; a community prayer service of hope and healing.
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