DTS Magazine

Dallas Theological Seminary Completes First Academic Year of School-wide Sexual Abuse Awareness Training

Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), one of the world’s leading seminaries for training evangelical Christian leaders, in collaboration with MinistrySafe, a leader in sexual abuse prevention and education, has completed its first academic year in providing child sexual abuse awareness training for all students.

Fall 2016 marked the inaugural semester for DTS requiring a one-hour online certification in Sexual Abuse Awareness Training for every student pursuing a professional master’s degree. To the best of DTS’ knowledge, no other seminary has made such a requirement of its students.

The training, developed by MinistrySafe co-founders and attorneys Gregory S. Love and Kimberlee D. Norris, includes common misconceptions related to sexual abuse and abusers, offender characteristics, ‘grooming behaviors’ and legal reporting responsibilities, and focuses on fact patterns and examples from actual cases in ministry contexts.

“DTS is committed to equipping men and women for ministry who can teach, lead and care for those entrusted to their ministries,” said Dr. Mark Bailey, president of DTS. “MinistrySafe is a vital component of that training for the varieties of ministries in which our grads will serve.”

Additionally, for Spring 2017, DTS and MinistrySafe offered its first in-depth, for-credit course, “Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse,” proctored by DTS Professor of Educational Ministries and Leadership Dr. Jay L. Sedwick, who has a long history of proactive involvement in risk management issues impacting the Church and Christian ministries.

The course is taught by Love and Norris, who provide legal counsel and preventative resources to ministries worldwide, and litigate child sexual abuse cases throughout the U.S. It was also made available online to DTS’ 15,000 alumni.

Love and Norris, recognized child sexual abuse experts, worked with DTS leadership to develop the course curriculum, which includes topics such as:

  • Understanding Sexual Abuse in Ministry Topics,
  • Creating an Effective Safety System,
  • Skillful Screening Processes and Training,
  • Abuse Reporting Requirements,
  • Allegations of Sexual Abuse – Preparation and Response Plan,
  • Legislation Related to Sexual Abuse / Changes in the Law, and
  • An Appropriate Model of Care.

Since its founding in 1995, MinistrySafe has provided training and resources – in person and online – to more than 6,000 organizations and more than 700,000 staff members and volunteers on six continents, in various languages. MinistrySafe currently trains 9,000 to 11,000 ministry personnel per month, online.

“Sexual abusers seek access to victims where the barriers of protection are lower.  Sadly, in our culture, the barriers are the lowest in our churches,” said Love. “If ministry leaders trained by DTS gain accurate information about the risk of child sexual abuse, they will be better equipped to understand how the risk unfolds.”

Research shows there are over 60 million abuse survivors living in the United States, and two out of three child victims do not report sexual abuse until adulthood, if ever.

“Ministry leaders must be conversant with the risk of child sexual abuse,” said Norris. “Sexual offenders can be anyone, anywhere, and most of them look like you and me. In the United States today, one out of four girls and one out of six boys will have been sexually abused before he or she reach 18 years of age. Those statistics don’t skip any paradigm, any neighborhood or any church denomination.”

Dallas Theological Seminary alumni represent 70-some denominations and 100-plus countries. For more information about the seminary’s 10 locations and online offerings, please visit http://www.dts.edu/.

MinistrySafe offers state-of-the-art tools and training “to protect children and those who serve them.” For more information about MinistrySafe, please visit http://ministrysafe.com/.

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