Dove's Nest Blog
As a member of the board of Dove’s Nest, an independent Anabaptist nonprofit working to protect children from all types of child abuse and neglect, I’ve become more and more aware of the ways humans experience touch, and the sensitivity that all Christians are called to use when touching one another.
As a pastor, I’m aware of the ways my touch matters: laying on of hands for the sick, blessing new babies, hugs of greeting, passing the peace, baptizing people, anointing, footwashing and more.
Jeanette Harder had not even received a printed copy of her new book when she learned that 740 fresh-off-the-press copies had been handed out at a conference.
Dr. Harder, cofounder of Dove’s Nest, authored For the Sake of a Child: Love, Safety, and Abuse in Our Plain Communities (Ridgeway Publishing, 2019) with Allen Hoover, a horse-and-buggy Old Order Mennonite.
1. Address the survivors’ and all other children’s physical and body safety first. Children, youth, and adults should practice consent in all areas of their lives. Consent is an active, voluntary verbal agreement. It means asking before giving a hug. It means listening to a “no.” It means respecting children’s boundaries and finding ways to connect with them that do not necessarily involve physical interaction. (Dove’s Nest offers a variety of different trainings on healthy boundaries and consent.)
Everence supports the healthy development of churches as they contribute to the spiritual and emotional health of their attendees—especially children, teens and others vulnerable individuals. The Safe Church Grant can be used to develop policies, train people or implement programs within church ministries.
Human warmth, expressed through appropriate touch, can foster a sense of acceptance, belonging, and significance. Inappropriate touch can create feelings of violation, confusion, and isolation, which leave lasting scars. It is the responsibility of staff and volunteers to maintain appropriate boundaries; this is not the responsibility of children, youth, or vulnerable persons.
The following are examples of ways in which staff and volunteers can show warmth to children, youth, or vulnerable persons while protecting their own integrity.
On October 20, East Goshen Mennonite Church (Indiana) held a service, "Lamenting Sexual Violence," as part of their series "Do You See This Woman?"
This service engaged 2 Samuel 13:1–20—the story of Amnon's rape of Tamar—which calls us to confront the challenging and painful reality of sexual violence.
By Anna Groff
In addition to ordering Sunday school curriculum and buying supplies for classrooms, take a few moments to consider steps to ensure safety for the Sunday school students at your church this fall. Equipping teachers with the information and tools they need ahead of time can go a long way in supporting a healthy environment for all. Dove’s Nest is here to serve your church.