The Least of These: Implementing Child Protection Policies, Personal Safety Education, and other Reforms to Keep Safe the Children God has Entrusted to our Churches and Schools, Victor Vieth
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of four girls and one out of six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. More than one out of four children will be beaten to the point of injury and 13% will witness their mother beaten. One out of ten will be denied food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or other necessities of life for periods of time during their childhood. Maltreated children are not only impacted physically and emotionally, but also spiritually with many victims losing their faith. Even those who retain their faith often leave church—with one study finding that 10% of Protestants below the age of 35 having left the church because they don’t believe the Christian community is committed to keeping children safe.
Although these facts are well known, most Christian churches and schools lack child protection policies and training or, if they have training and policies, it falls well below what child abuse experts recommend. This is true even though widespread child sexual abuse scandals in Catholic and Protestant communities have resulted in the church paying billions of dollars in civil lawsuits.
This workshop provides an overview of best practices for implementing training and policies for called workers, volunteers, children, and parents. The speaker argues that God expects us to care for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40) and that it is sinful to wait until a child is abused in our churches or schools before we implement appropriate policies and training. The speaker also argues policies should be developed in collaboration with child abuse experts who are focused on protecting children from abuse, as opposed to lawyers and insurance companies who focus more on limiting liability.
Victor Vieth is a former child abuse prosecutor who went on to direct the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse. He currently serves as chief program officer for Education & Research at Zero Abuse Project. In this capacity, he provides training and technical assistance to child abuse prosecutors throughout the United States. Over the course of his 35-year career in child protection, Mr. Vieth has implemented significant policy reforms in the field of child protection. As a result of these efforts, the United States Department of Justice presented him with the Victim Rights Legend Award in 2021.
Mr. Vieth has worked with Christian and Jewish communities around the world to improve the response of faith communities to the sin of child abuse. He serves on the board of directors of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) and is current board chair of Sacred Spaces, which works to address abuse in Jewish communities. Mr. Vieth is part of the WELS special ministry on child abuse, Freedom for the Captives, and teaches the annual child abuse module at Martin Luther College. He has published numerous theological works on the subject of child abuse including a book entitled On this Rock: A Call to Center the Christian Response to Child Abuse on the Life and Words of Jesus.