Monday, June 21, 2010

Cumbrian conference targets sex abuse in church

Cumbrian conference targets sex abuse in church
By Chris Story News and Star

Last updated at 13:14, Monday, 21 June 2010

Church leaders and workers will be given advice on how to deal with child sex abuse claims at a conference in Carlisle.

A city-based support organisation will also this week highlight ways of helping protect children from becoming victims of abusers in the first place.

Borderline General Counselling Services says it is vital that people working in and for churches are able to properly deal with allegations and help those affected work through them.

A seminar on Saturday will flag up the policies and procedures that should be followed to safeguard both children and those working with them should claims be made.

And Borderline’s volunteer counsellors are urging as many churches as possible to be represented at the event, called Facing the Unthinkable.

One said that some people think allegations or concerns about sexual abuse may never be raised in churches, adding: “We have got to face up to it. There are churches that have lots of good policies – there’s lots of positive stuff. A lot has changed in the past few years.”

It is hoped that advice given at the Borderline-hosted seminar will ensure any church leaders who a victim turns to for support can best help them.

Experts from the Church Child Protection Advisory Service will carry out the training.

They hope the advice will raise awareness about the issue, highlight the things churches and other groups working with young groups must do by law – such as Criminal Records Bureau checks for all people who have contact with children – and best practices that could be followed.

The Borderline counsellor said: “All churches ought to have policies in place and all youth workers and leaders ought to be trained in these areas to be able to handle situations correctly. We don’t want to point the finger at anybody. What needs to come out of this is a real awareness of church leadership.

“Just a little bit of training might make a big difference to someone’s life.

“Most churches now have protection policies in place. Policies teach the right procedures.”

Borderline say they help counsel many victims of sexual abuse – suffered in all sorts of circumstances – who have only come forward to talk about their ordeal many years later.

“Rather than being at the end to pick up the pieces we need to help people and safeguard up,” the counsellor added.

“We’re looking for anyone who works with young people in churches or church groups to get the training they need to protect them and deal with such situations.

“It is about getting the policies in place so leaders and children are safeguarded.”

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