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Dove's Nest Blog

What About the Most Vulnerable?

By Anna Groff

In addition to protecting children, churches ought to be aware of the need for safety for all vulnerable persons, including—but not limited to—children and adults with disabilities and the elderly.

Many studies point to the unfortunate truth that children with chronic medical conditions or disabilities are at increased risk for abuse and neglect.

10 Ways Your Church Can Prevent Child Abuse

By Carolyn Holderread Heggen

Here are ten ways that churches can prevent child abuse. This content is extracted from a chapter of Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches by Carolyn Holderread Heggen (1993). Holderread Heggen, PhD, is a psychotherapist specializing in trauma recovery. Although she spent most of her clinical and academic career in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she currently lives in Corvallis, Oregon, and is an active member of Albany Mennonite Church. 

1. Name the sin of abuse:
Unnamed abuse cannot be healed or stopped. Adequately named, we can begin to exert dominion over this evil. 

2. Dispel the notion that what happens in homes is private and no one else's business: Children need opportunities within the congregation to talk about fears or concerns they have.

Addressing a Known Potential Threat in Church

By Trudy Good

Safe Church policies and procedures should include two important efforts: 

First, Safe Church is about preventing abuse of children and vulnerable members. 

Second, Safe Church is about protecting children and vulnerable members when there is a known potential threat. 

A potential threat occurs when someone who has a known history of inappropriate or illegal sexual behavior is participating in the congregation or wants to participate in the congregation. 

Spare the Rod?

By Anna Groff

I am aware that some families and religious groups use the Bible to justify—even encourage—corporal punishment. 

In fact, according to the 2012 General Social Survey, 80 percent of born-again Christians say spanking is OK.

These individuals may refer to passages in Proverbs, such as “Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them” (13:24) or “A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away” (22:15).

Dove's Nest Receives $8,000 Grant for Video Project

Dove’s Nest will soon be able to expand the number of faith communities it assists in their efforts to help keep children and youth safe.

On November 17, Dove’s Nest received approval for a funding request of $8,000 for a video project.

As a small organization with a national scope, Dove’s Nest has been seeking the ability to disseminate valuable bite-sized information about child safety in a video format that can be shared online and through social media.

Honoring the Power of Worship

By Hilary J. Scarsella

For the last several years, I have been talking with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse about how the worship and teachings of their faith communities impacted their experiences of abuse, its traumatic consequences, and their ability to eventually seek recovery.

A commitment to keeping children safe in communities of faith surely includes implementing child protection policies and educating ourselves to recognize signs of abuse and neglect. 

Trust but Verify

By Jeanette Harder

“We’re family here.”

While we may not say that aloud, it is often what we think when we’re presented with the notion of screening church volunteers. Or perhaps we don’t think about screening at all—we just have spots to fill in our church, and we do everything we can to find volunteers to fill them.

South Dakota Churches Host Dove’s Nest Workshop


By Lerace Graber, Salem Mennonite Church. Reposted by permission from Scattered Seeds (October 2015)

A workshop, Keeping Children Safe in Faith Communities, was held at Salem Mennonite Church, Freeman, South Dakota, on September 12, 2015, with Dr. Jeanette Harder from Dove’s Nest of Omaha, Nebraska, as facilitator.  

There were approximately forty people attending, representing six area churches. The first part of the morning began with Dr. Harder explaining why it is so important that children feel safe in our churches and that it is up to the adults to make sure church is safe.

The second half of the morning was a panel discussion with Dr. Harder as moderator, asking prepared questions of four local people representing South Dakota organizations that work with children in a variety of ways.  

Q&A: An Interview with a Mennonite Pastor

Here is a Q&A with a Mennonite Church USA pastor conducted in September 2015.

1. Please describe the situation at your Mennonite church:
In the spring, Daniel*, who was a new attendee to the church, had an interaction with a couple of our elementary school-age girls that raised yellow flags. He approached them and asked to shake hands. One of the girls refused, saying that he was a stranger. He replied that he wasn’t a stranger, but a member of their church. Then he reached out and tickled her. The girls immediately left the area.  

Another parent observed the incident and informed me about it. At that time, I immediately talked to all the parents involved. They talked to their daughters, who told the same story and said it felt uncomfortable. I also made sure to ask the parents if the girls were okay; they said they were.