The correlation between church leaders' understanding of the issue of child sexual abuse and preventive steps taken within their churches
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The research examined the relationship between knowledge of faith-based church leaders regarding the facts of child sexual abuse and the practice of child sexual abuse prevention steps utilized within the church. It examined the historical, theological, biblical, and ethical concerns about child sexual abuse and the church. The biblical accounts of David and Bathsheba along with the story of Tamar and Amnon were reflected upon within the historical and biblical context of sexual abuse. The theological understanding of sin and its results was analyzed in the context of child sexual abuse. A chronological exploration of the history of child abuse in the United States along with statistics for the represented years was included in the study. Exploration of the abuse of power, the multileveled aspects of denial, the victim, the perpetrator, prevention steps available to the church and parental partnership were included. The common prevention steps discussed were: a written policy and procedure manual, screening form, interview, reference checks by phone or written, criminal background checks (fingerprinting), keeping doors open, windows in the classrooms, hall monitor system, a 2-adult rule, computer on-line check for sexual offenders, waiting six months from membership, prevention training at the local church, prevention training at denominational level, adequate church insurance, and a team of members ready to deal with any accusations that may occur. There was a description of the research process. The study was descriptive quantitative research by use of a research instrument (developed from the precedent literature and validated by an expert panel) that examined the relationship between knowledge and practice of faith-based church leaders regarding child sexual abuse and prevention. The research instrument consisted of five sections: Demographics, Likert Response Scale, Prevention Steps Checklist, Hindrances, and Comments. The Likert Response Scale included questions on knowledge of child sexual abuse facts, knowledge of prevention steps, higher education, and the issue of denial among church leaders. There were 213 seminary students who were church leaders that participated in the research study. Displays of the data, analysis of the data, and interpretation of the data were included along with a description of the research implications and applications, along with possible further research. Pearson r correlation was conducted to determine if there was a relationship found between knowledge and practice of church leaders. Recommendations were made to the church on the subject of child sexual abuse prevention.