Characteristics That Make Them Vulnerable
Children who are shy and different
Molesters choose children who don't have many friends or are shy and different from the other kids. They know that these kids may respond more easily to an adult who takes an interest in them.
Children of single parents
Molesters choose children of single parents not because single parents are parents but because sometimes their children may need more attention. Children of single parents may have more adults coming in and out of their lives because their parents may welcome the help of other adults. Child molesters love to be helpful. They are vulnerable.
Children with disabilities
Molesters choose children with disabilities because they may require extra care or may be less able to protect themselves. They are vulnerable.
Children with behavior problems
Molesters choose children with behavioral problems because caregivers tend to isolate them from other children. And molesters know that adults won’t believe an accusation from a trouble maker. They are vulnerable.
What are the Effects of Abuse?
Sexual abuse profoundly affects all of these victims. It affects how they think, how the feel, and how they act. These effects can last a lifetime.
What are the Effects of Abuse?
How they think
They think the world is dangerous. That they can’t trust anyone. Most likely they knew the person and it is someone they cared about and trusted. This becomes someone who betrayed them. They think they did something wrong. The molester convinces them that it was their fault, that they wanted it to happen. They think they could have stopped the abuse.
How they feel
Children who have been molested start to feel bad. They feel dirty. Used. Different from everyone else. They can’t understand what is happening. They are angry, sad, guilty and confused. One minute they feel fine and the next minute they hate everything and everybody.
How they act
They have trouble keeping up with school work, because they can’t concentrate. They can’t stop thinking about what has happened. Nothing can take their mind off it. They might lose interest in activities they used to love, make vague comments about not wanting to return to a specific program or want to avoid someone they used to like. Children who have been molested are extremely emotional and their behavior shows it. They yell, fight, or punch holes in the wall. They may hit their teachers curse out their parents or say things they don’t mean, like telling their parents they hate them.
Each state has its own statutes regarding what is defined as child/youth/vulnerable adult abuse. The following is a comprehensive list of terms and their intended use in this particular policy.
Child - A child will be defined as a person between the ages of 0–11.
Youth - A youth will be defined as a person between the ages of 12–17.
Minor - A minor is any child or youth 0–17 years-old.
Child/Youth Worker - Any person, volunteer or paid staff or contractor, who participates at any level at General Assembly entity sponsored events or activities involving children and/or youth.
Vulnerable Adult - Any person eighteen-years-old or older without the developmental or cognitive capacity to consent.
Vulnerable Adult Abuse - Any act or failure to act that results in the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional mistreatment, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult.
Child/Youth Abuse - Any act or failure to act that results in the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional mistreatment, neglect, or exploitation of a child or youth.
OGA - Office of the General Assembly
PMA - Presbyterian Mission Agency
Sponsoring Council or Entity - Any council or entity of the General Assembly within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that is tasked with the responsibility of planning events and activities for children, youth, or vulnerable adults.
Policies - Policies give the rules and expectations for behaviors by staff and participants.
Procedures - Procedures inform staff and participants of processes that will be used.
Sexual Abuse - In the Book of Order, sexual abuse is defined as, “Sexual abuse of another person is any offense involving sexual conduct in relation to (1) any person under the age of eighteen years or anyone over the age of eighteen years without the age of eighteen years without the mental capacity to consent; or (2) any person when the conduct includes force, threat, coercion, intimidation, or misuse of ordered ministry or position” (Book of Order, D-10.0401c).
- Caregivers are expected to complete and sign the application form which should include a minimum of two references, the background check authorization form, and sign the form verifying that the event policy and code of conduct have been read.
- The sponsoring entity or council will determine what background checks are appropriate for the event in consultation with their insurance company. These checks will be paid for by the sponsoring entity and shall be run no more than six (6) months prior to the event.
- Caregiver age requirements stipulate that all child/youth workers must be at least eighteen years-old and four years older that the oldest youth whom they are serving.
- No person may serve as a caregiver who has a conviction on his/her record of certain felonies or misdemeanors including but not limited to any of those listed in the Child/Youth/Vulnerable Adult Policy and Procedure.
- All records related to the application and screening including background checks will be maintained in confidential files.
Screening process and caregiver requirements
- Some events and activities present extra risk and concerns.
- An event that has overnight stays can present unique risks for caregivers and participants. Please review policy and code of conduct for specific required and prohibited behaviors if your event will include an overnight stay. It is important that you know these rules.
- When you are required to provide transportation for participants it is important that you know the expected and prohibited behaviors for caregivers, drivers and participants.
- There are very specific rules about the use of technology, including social media and electronic communications, by caregivers. The creation and use of media sites in the name of the PCUSA is prohibited without the explicit written persmission of the sponsoring entity. No caregivers will have private electronic communications with participants.