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Florida Baptists promote sexual abuse prevention series for ministers, parents


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP) – A longstanding hallmark of protecting children from sexual abuse has been teaching them that strangers are dangerous, but 90 percent of sexually abused boys and girls know their abuser.

The Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention (ECAP) cites the truth in announcing Safeguards 4 Kids seminars in March and April to equip parents, churches, ministers, schools and volunteers in protecting the most vulnerable, based on a biblical worldview.

Safeguards 4 Kids also challenges Christian ministry leaders to seriously address abuse and consider preventative and educational measures, ECAP said in announcing the series.

“Ministries should be safe places where kids can hear the Gospel and grow in discipleship, but we have found that the average ministry has never done a risk assessment on their own operations with children,” said ECAP General Editor Briggham Winkler. “Many ministry leaders aren’t even sure about the mandatory reporting laws in their own jurisdiction. How can we trust they will properly respond to abuse that may be uncovered in their ministry?”

The Florida Baptist Convention (FBC), which became an affiliate member of ECAP in 2023, is a sponsor of the Safeguards 4 Kids tour that also includes a stop at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS).

“We believe in partnering with industry-leading experts that share our commitment to the Word of God, and who are championing the importance of child protection,” FBC Executive Director-Treasurer Tommy Green said in a video promoting ECAP. “The Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention was created in 2019 to provide awareness, accreditation and resources to help Christian organizations that serve children to protect the vulnerable in ministry.”

Seminars will offer wisdom and discernment in parenting, preparing parents for age-appropriate conversations with their children about abuse and threats, ECAP said in a press release. Parents will be equipped to teach their children to recognize, respond to and report immoral behavior from adults and other children. Human trafficking and online internet safety will also be addressed.

Registration is open for sessions scheduled March 2 from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Schultz Center in Jacksonville, March 9 from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Orlando, April 4th online, and April 6 from 9-11:30 a.m. at MBTS. Additional sessions are planned for the fall.

Julie Lowe, author of “Safeguards: Shielding Our Homes and Equipping Our Kids” and featured expert in the series, said Christians have a responsibility to equip children with necessary tools to recognize abusive behavior and respond wisely.

“Until children are old enough to keep themselves safe, it is the job of parents and concerned adults to do so,” Lowe said at ECAP.net. “Since you and I can’t always be with children, we are often at the mercy of adults we chose to trust or our child’s ability to navigate situations. For this reason, it is always the right time to be educating our children on concrete, child-appropriate safety skills.”

The FBC, among numerous Southern Baptist state conventions working to prevent sexual abuse among churches, has committed $30,000 to help churches develop abuse prevention systems through ECAP, the FBC said in April 2023. The money was allocated to help churches with fewer than 500 members cover the ECAP application fee.

The Southern Baptist Convention is implementing broad measures to prevent sexual abuse in churches and ministries by equipping and resourcing churches to prevent abuse and minister to survivors.