As a Partner in Protection faith community, will we be protected from abuse?
Becoming a Partner in Protection does NOT guarantee that abuse will never occur in your faith community, and no organization, including CACCC can make such a guarantee. However, training and volunteer screening help to minimize risk and opportunity and provide valuable instruction to help you respond appropriately to abuse without hindering a criminal investigation or putting a child at risk of further harm.
What happens if a volunteer or staff member commits a criminal offense?
Background checks, volunteer screening and education are the most effective means of protecting your community from abuse, but nothing can guarantee you will never have an incident occur. If you learn that abuse has occurred, or if a child discloses abuse, Texas law requires that you report the incident immediately to Child Protective Services and/or local law enforcement. Failing to report abuse may result in civil or criminal penalties. Cooperate fully with law enforcement to help them complete their investigation.
Please note: Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County is not an investigative agency and cannot comment on the status of an open criminal or Child Protective Services investigation.
How should I respond to a child or youth who discloses abuse?
First off, remain calm. Children will respond to your demeanor and may shut down if you overreact. Reassure the child or youth that the abuse is not their fault. Visit our resources page for recommendations on how to respond to an outcry of abuse. Be sure to make a report to law enforcement or Child Protective Services as soon as possible.
We've had a crisis in our community where a staff or volunteer harmed a child or youth. How should we communicate about the incident to our members?
Despite best efforts to protect children from abuse, perpetrators are savvy. Many perpetrators of sexual abuse have had multiple victims before they got caught and will seek opportunities to have contact with children and teenagers. Should an incident occur in your faith community, we recommend cooperating fully with the law enforcement investigation and reassuring your community that you are doing so. Assess your protocols to make sure you have done all you know to do to protect children and if necessary, make adjustments to your protection policies. Unless there is an inherent public safety risk, refrain from sharing too many details with your community. Doing so may interfere with law enforcement's ongoing investigation.
We require volunteers and staff to notify our church leadership before making a report of abuse. Is that okay?
Any individual who receives an outcry from a child or suspects that abuse has occurred has a duty to report it to Child Protective Services. Your organization or community may require you to internally notify leadership. However, this notification does not reduce or eliminate an individual’s duty to report suspected abuse. Follow your organization’s policy for alerting senior leadership within your faith community if required, but do not assume others will make a report on your behalf. It is YOUR responsibility.
Remember that by making a report of suspected abuse, you are not making an accusation. You are simply reporting a “GOOD FAITH” belief or suspicion that child abuse may have occurred and requesting an investigation by trained professionals. You do not need to be certain that abuse has occurred before making a report. Make a report, and leave the investigations to the professionals.
How should I respond to an adult survivor of abuse? How can I help?
It is never too late for a child abuse victim to receive help! Encourage your parishioner or member to seek help. CACCC's Clinical Department is available to provide a referral for services from a local counselor or therapist.
In caring for a member who has been harmed by abuse, remember that their perpetrator may have harmed other children. Even if the criminal statute of limitations has passed, encourage your member to report the abuse. In reporting past abuse, an individual may protect another child from harm.
How can my faith community get involved with Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County?
CACCC relies on the support of our community to function and to reduce the incidence of child abuse. We especially need your help to inform others about the signs and symptoms of abuse and how to make a report. Here are some ways to get involved and learn more:
- Take a tour of CACCC.
- Become a Partner in Protection with the CACCC Faith Alliance for Children.
- Participate in our awareness campaign during Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.
- Contribute to one of our special projects such as the Back-to-School Fair or the Holiday Project.
A person who has hurt a child in the past wants to attend services at our church. What should I do? How can I help someone who wants to change while still protecting children in our community?
First and foremost, follow the law. Sometimes conditions of bond, probation or parole prohibit a person who has committed a crime against a child or teenager from having access to minors. Contact the appropriate authorities such as the person’s parole officer to determine if the person is prohibited from having contact with minors. Keep in mind that an individual who has been investigated by Child Protective Services may not have been investigated by law enforcement or charged with a crime.