In many cases of child sexual and physicalabuse,perpetrators use religious or spiritualthemes to justify their abuse of a child.
Although no known religion in modernculture suggests that sexual abuse iscondoned or taught as part of its tenets,somechurch leaders engage in conduct suggestingthe child is equally,if not more to blame thanthe perpetrator,while also urging immediatereconciliation between the perpetrator and victim.In more than one case,pastors haveasked children to confess their own “sins”inbeing sexually abused and have even requiredchildren to “confess”in front of an entirecongregation.
Even more frequently,pastorsand other church workers mandated to reportinstances of child maltreatment simply ignorethe lawand takeconcerted efforts to keep thematter “in house.”
With respect to the physical abuse of children,some faith traditions continue tosanction physically striking a child as a meansof discipline.
In recent weeks,there has beennational press coverage of those withincertain faith communities who advocate violence toward children that in most jurisdictions is considered to be criminalconduct.This includes advocating for a“hundred”blows if necessary and sanctionsthe striking of babies for “selfish”or “willful”crying.
In some cases,children have died atthe hands of parents administering “discipline”recommended from religious leaders.
Although the rights of parents to providespiritual instruction to their children arefundamental under our constitution,physicaland sexual abuse that is perpetrated in thename of religion is not protected,and isactually prohibited by law.The United StatesSupreme Court has said “when state actionimpinges upon a claimed religious freedom,it must fall unless shown to be necessaryfor or conduciveto the child’sprotection againstsome clear and present danger…”
Accordingly,the government has the right tointervene,and to prosecute cases of childmaltreatment even when such maltreatmentis rooted in religious beliefs.
Pastorsandchurch leaders who fail to report knowncases of child abuse or otherwise aid andabet the ongoing abuse of children may facecriminal charges.
This article contains seventeen tips to assistlawenforcement officers and other multi-disciplinary team members investigatingcases of child abuse condoned and,in somecases,actuallysanctioned byapastor or other church leader.The authors recognizethis issue may arise in many religiouscontexts.However,this paper is primarily focused on abusivepractices taking place insome Christian environments,and is basedon the authors work in investigating or prosecuting abuse within these institutions.
CENTERPIECE • Volume 2,Issue 12: 2010 • NCPTC
The Official Newsletter of the National Child Protection Training Center
When the Child Abuser Has a Bible:Investigating Child Maltreatment Sanctionedor Condoned by a Religious Leader
This project was supported by GrantNo.2009-DD-BX-K150 awarded bythe Office of Juvenile Justice andDelinquency Prevention,Office ofJustice Programs,U.S.Department ofJustice.Points of view or opinions inthis document are those of the authorand do not necessarily represent theofficial position or policies of the U.S.Department of Justice.
“How many whacks is irrelevant,you might need 100 stripes,that’s what the Bible speaks about.”
--Independent Fundamental Baptist pastor’ssermon
When Words Matter: Emerging Issues In Forensic Interviewing
September 19 – 22,2011 • Chicago,IL
When Words Matter is the largest, annualconference for forensic interviewers in the UnitedStates. It is designed to extend the concepts of theCornerHouse RATAC
interviewing protocol. WhenWords Matter is a four-day national conferencehosted each year in a state that has implementedthe ChildFirst Forensic Interview Training Program.The conference brings together nationallyrecognized experts from different areas of the childprotection field for this informative and innovativeconference. The topics covered will be useful forprosecutors, law enforcement officers, childprotective service workers, forensic interviewers,child counselors/ psychologists, medicalprofessionals, victim advocates, and anyone else who interviews children or prepares them for court.
nterviewing Teenage Victims Of Abuse
For: Forensic interviewers ONLY thathavecompleted a 40 hour forensicinterviewing courseJune 1 – 3,2011 • NCPTC at NorthWestArkansas Community College
This 2 1/2 day course is designed for forensicinterviewers actively conducting forensic interviews with minors involving child abuse allegations andmaltreatment. Forensic interviewers are required tohave successfully completed a basic forensicinterviewing course. This course will focus onforensic interviews with teenage victims of childabuse and maltreatment. The course combineslectures and practical mock interview exercises toenhance the ability of the forensic interviewerconducting interviews with teenagers.
for moreinformation and to register for courses.Click on