How You Can Help Reduce Abuse in the Orthodox Churches
Abuse in the Church is not a new problem, nor can it be completely eradicated. However, there are steps that Orthodox communities can take to reduce the chances of abuse, and to lessen its impact on survivors.
- Insist that all your deacons, priests and bishops receive seminary educations. In our mobile society, where more and more people enter the Church as adults, this is an important opportunity to vet candidates for ordination.
- Support the implementation of programs in Orthodox seminaries designed to teach future clergy how to maintain appropriate boundaries and how to minister effectively to parishioners who have been abused.
- Demand that complete background checks and psychological testing be required before candidates are ordained, and before clergy from other jurisdictions are received.
- Support abuse education programs for clergy who are already serving. If the various Orthodox jurisdictions would work together, such seminars would have minimal impact on parish life.
- Educate yourself, and your children, about the importance of appropriate boundaries, and how to maintain them. This is particularly important for those who have already been abused, wherever the harm may have occurred.
- Use your discernment. Listen to your inner voice. If something makes you uncomfortable or seems odd, pay attention to your feeling! Ask questions, and if you’re not satisfied with the answers, then act!
- Make sure that children in the parish are adequately supervised at all times they are on the premises.
- Require mandatory background checks for all of those who will be working with children, even volunteers.
- Tell your friends and family about this web site.
- Print out copies of articles on this web site for people in your parish, including the clergy.
- Read books, such as the ones we have listed on our resource page, and pass them on to others in your community, including clergy.
- Talk about the problem of abuse with friends, family and clergy. Bring the issue into the light!
- If someone in your parish community has been accused of abuse, please read these
guidelines. Then, try to follow them. If necessary, print out additional copies, and share them with others in your parish. Most importantly, believe the victims. While false accusations are not unknown, they are extremely rare.
- Report abuse to local law enforcement IMMEDIATELY, even if the victim is an adult. Let the authorities determine whether or not a crime has been committed. Go to the authorities before going to the Church. Read Pokrov's guidelines.
- If you know of an abuser who is not included on our site, please let us know. If you send us relevant documents, the individual can be added to our lists sooner.
- If an abuser is still in a position where he or she might abuse again, write to the appropriate bishop yourself and let him know that you find this unacceptable.
- Speak up! Let your bishop know your opinion of the abuse policy in your jurisdiction and/or the way particular cases have been handled. If your jurisdiction does not have a policy, urge your bishop to develop one.
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