While most of us think of ways on how to prevent church and clergy abuse, there are times when the unthinkable happens. If that’s the case, you have no choice but to respond accordingly even though you seem to be very shocked and surprised about what happened. Child abuse done by a member of the church is kind of more difficult to contend with since priests and other clergy members are the kind of people whom we usually trust and rely on when it comes to righteousness and morality.
If a child or minor in the community claims to have been abused by any member of the church, you can help by doing these things:
- First thing is to report the abuse to any child protective agency with jurisdiction. As soon as you are able to do this, there are people there who can assist you on what to do next. There is a procedure that must be followed if you want the child to get justice. But if the victim is clearly in the path of danger or you see someone doing an actual abuse to him/her, calling the police is a better idea.
- It’s common for many people to hesitate in helping especially if the person accused is a priest, pastor, minister, or a distinguished member of the church. For them, it’s just too unlikely to happen. If you’re one of them, just think of it as something that should not be tolerated. If the abuse and exploitation of children is tolerated without any form of intervention, it will continue to take place and more children and minors will become victims.
- Your next step should be calling the diocese or congregation where the priest is a member of. If the accused is a pastor, you can as well report the abuse to the local conference administration. Do not be afraid to approach the very same organization that houses the accused since what you are doing is to help the victim.
- And as soon as you have committed yourself in helping the child victim achieve justice, you must be there with him/her all the way. Put in mind that minors are very innocent and helpless. Without any kind of intervention from concerned adults, they do not have the courage to surface and reveal the abuse they have survived.