The Table Podcast
Greg LoveJay L. SedwickJay L. SedwickDarrell L. BockDarrell L. Bock

The Grooming Process of Sexual Abusers

In this episode, Dr. Darrell Bock, Greg Love and Dr. Jay Sedwick discuss sexual abuse in the church, focusing on risk management for church leaders and the grooming process used by abusers.

Sexual Abuse & Sunday School
  1. Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse at Church
  2. The Grooming Process of Sexual Abusers
Timecodes
00:13
Understanding the grooming process used by sexual abusers
05:43
How long does the grooming process usually take?
08:13
What can leaders do to better protect children?
10:04
What can people working directly with children do to better protect them?
12:16
Who qualifies as a mandatory reporter?
18:55
What is the risk for leaders who report suspects?
24:42
How should an internal investigation differ from that conducted by law enforcement?
Transcript
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. Let's go to the awareness training. You've used the phrase grooming a lot, and we're not talking about hairdressing. So let's stop and think a little bit about the types of things that people are made aware of in these sessions that show that this training is so beneficial.
Greg Love
Okay. What I need my people to first understand is you see, we're holding onto a – I call it a bank of information about sexual abuse. It's not a new topic now, given where we've been in the last 15, 20 years. But unfortunately, that information that most of my people are holding on to involves a lot of misconception and error. So one of the key points of the awareness training, at least the awareness training that we do, is to try to help you identify what are some of the wrong things you might be believing about sexual abuse because what we believe shapes what we do. If you believe error, you're gonna respond with error.

And so it's first identifying for people there's no visual profile. Your criminal background check is a piece of your system, but not a reason to completely rest and turn your brain off. That you need to also understand that the behavior is the key. And that sexual abusers are gonna look like you and me, and it's real hard I mean just – it's difficult to have people let go of that concept that they can visually recognize risk. Once we can shake up some of those misconceptions a little bit and then move them to a place that they understand the grooming process, that's the behaviors that a predator will go through to be able to prepare a child and the adults for inappropriate behavior of the child.
Dr. Darrell Bock
It's a set up.
Greg Love
Right. And so sadly, the sexual abuser is counting on my people's ignorance and misconception and error because they move without detection within all of those misunderstandings.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Which is why 90 percent of them have never come into the legal process is because they've been fairly successful at doing what they're doing.
Greg Love
They're not identified. And go down that road, just I'm gonna show great discipline in just answering your question, counselor. [Laughter] But what the grooming process is trying to show people that generally you could put it into four large categories. Number one, the preferential offender is going to seek to gain access. In other words, this is a seeking volunteer and career opportunities that places that person within the age and sexual preference of children that person has a deviant sexual attraction for.

And so if it's somebody that has a deviant sexual attraction for little girls ages four to seven, you'll find somebody volunteering in the third grade Sunday school class, working with the Brownies, working where there are children within that age and sexual preference. Once that person has gained access, they're gonna work to select one or more children, and generally there's enough information that we have to understand some of the pattern in doing that. What they're looking for, because the ultimate goal is to carve a child away for inappropriate behavior one on one that this person wants to keep secret, it's looking for that child who's somehow on the fringe or in need. That child who's looking for someone to trust. That child that's from the single-parent home. The child that's maybe struggling with alcohol, pornography.

Some way in which this person that's got the deviant sexual desire will come alongside that child, win that child's trust, and start to build in some secrecy, rule breaking, things like that; and try to then, in step number three, start introducing nudity and sexual touch. For a very small child, it might be a lot of touch games, a lot of "our secrete relationship", lot of tickle games. Once a child's into middle school, high school, it will oftentimes involve a lot of sexual joking, a lot of sexual discussion, a lot of accidental in horseplay kind of touch to try to test those barriers with a child. And with the ultimate goal to push those barriers all the way back into inappropriate sexual behavior, but to find out is that child going to resist, is that child gonna pushback.

If we make some joking comments about nudity or de-pants a kid in public or dare somebody to go streaking into the girls' dorm or whatever to see which child, if it can be fun or gamey, can involve nudity or inappropriate touch. And once that person has pushed those barriers back to where there's now levels of inappropriateness, it's also important to the abuser to keep that child quiet. Now, for a boy, oftentimes – for a male molester and the victim being a boy, it's not hard. Just because of the way same-sex behavior is being tossed around in our culture, a boy will – oftentimes that's enough. That boy will never share that information, so an abuser doesn't have to work very hard to keep a boy quiet.

But it's also the threats, whether they're direct or subtle. It's the, "No one's gonna believe you. They're gonna call you a liar." Unfortunately, oftentimes we don't believe the child. Okay. In that sense it's the gain access, select child, start pushing back barriers and introducing nudity and sexual touch, and keeping the child quiet.
Dr. Darrell Bock
How long a process does this work to be on an average? Are there statistics in that regard or is it just – each situation is somewhat different, obviously, but is there a timing element that usually this process plays itself out on 'cause it sounds like this takes a little bit of work?
Greg Love
It does. It varies a great deal. I mean we have a situation of a pastor in Keller that victimized a handful of four- to seven-year-old little girls at one birthday party, and it took two or three hours of a process to test barriers, push back into inappropriate touch, and then the effort to keep the child quiet. For some it might be a matter of weeks, maybe months. Now, as a general rule, kind of – and this is where I have to stay in generalizations.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That's right.
Greg Love
That generally it's longer to groom a girl than it is for a guy. And oftentimes it's – and that goes hand in hand with the statistic that most people are also not familiar with is the average male molester who prefers boys as victims will have 150 victims prior to criminal prosecution, with the average age of beginning to molest being 14 or 15, and the average age of criminal prosecution being 35. Okay? The average male molester who prefers girls, 52 victims prior to criminal prosecution if he's prosecuted. Now, 150 versus 52, both those numbers are large, but why the disparity? And some of the studies are telling us it's right in line with how God made us. That he made guys very visual and easy to stimulate, but he made girls for relationship. So that oftentimes this grooming process for the girl will take longer because it's necessary for the abuser to build in at least a fake relationship before it progresses into further inappropriate touch and talk. Does that make sense?
Dr. Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Greg Love
And so in terms of answering your question, it can vary widely, but generally a little bit longer for the girl because of those added steps. Whereas with a guy, to visually stimulate, introduce touch, that's what arouses a boy, and the abuser can do that without this added two or three steps.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So what kinds of – I have so many questions. I'm not sure which one to do first. So let's deal with the leadership first. What kinds of things can leadership do, other than getting this kind of core information that gets them oriented, that can help them do a better job of protection? Obviously, no system is gonna be 100 percent failsafe, but what can you do to – how do I say it – heighten the odds that you're gonna do well?
Greg Love
Okay. I'd call it two separate things. One, the awareness training just to kind of give you the eyes to see, "I need to understand sexual abusers before I can begin to understand how to reduce the risk of it." I just know because I've been in this realm long enough that we filmed a seven-part tutorial, seven videos that are meant for leadership, meant to help you understand what does the big picture look like and what do I need to know about criminal background checks. Now, there's only so much I can share with you in 12 minutes, but there's a practical element of it has value, how much value, how do I use it, how does it fit within a system.

So the awareness training can give you information. These are meant to take that information and equip leadership with what they need to now know to put a system in place. And then on my site there's also the sample forms, so you're not just out there with theory. You can take a sample form, get the eyes to see and ears to hear, then watch these video tutorials and shape your system to be able to be a glove that fits your hand.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Now, you've mentioned the site. I take it that's Ministrysafe.com. Is that right?
Greg Love
That's right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And so some more information, some more detail is available there for some of the key things that need to be done. Let me shift slightly to another group. What do you do with the people who actually are working with the kids? What is important to get accomplished with them?
Greg Love
Okay. Now, that depends on whether I'm with them live or whether or not they have to rely on some of the tools that we've made available. Take my home church, I know what the policies and procedures say because I helped craft them, and they fit the different types of programs that we are providing ministry within. And then I'm going to give 'em an awareness training that's going to actually fit it to who we are, and I'm gonna tell 'em, "Here's what the grooming process. Here's how it may unfold in this particular situation."

I can also tell you about some circumstance, like the one you alluded to in Colorado, here's some examples of how this goes bad. Just so you don't think it's my just giving you theory. These are real people that love Jesus, real people that were trying to make a difference, that this was a false allegation and the ramifications that flow from it. Here are some of the people that were accused, but no one would ever guessed.

And then I'm gonna walk 'em through here's the law on reporting. We do not mess this up. But here's what I also want from you. I don't want you to just have the permission to communicate if something triggers something that's maybe reportable to law enforcement. I want us all to be talking. I mean if something – women, you have liver quivers, something that just bothers you, it's like, "That's just not right," we need to create that culture that everybody can share what they see when they see it so that leadership has the opportunity to put a picture together.

Because when the train wrecks, oftentimes the picture becomes very clear with all of the information people knew but weren’t discussing. And then I'm probably going to finish that with just the encouragement that someday each one of these people that I'm working with are gonna be parents too. Someone's gonna call them mom or dad, and that this is just the broken environment that we work in. And that we need to take this seriously, not just because of the children we're ministering to, but it's gonna better equip us to be moms and dad in the communities and environments that we live in.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Now, Jay, you've been sitting here listening to this and you minister in this area. What strikes you about the conversation that we've had?
Jay Sedwick
Well, I've got a lot of questions and clarification points that I want Greg to kinda hit on that I think will be very practical for our churches and our church people. I think we need to probably define the concept of mandatory reporter. What does that mean, and who would qualify as a mandatory reporter?
Greg Love
Okay. That's going to change from state to state, and also, we need to understand there is a culture shift. I mean right now the culture is moving away from litigation, just tort reform, unless it involve with child sexual abuse, and it's moving this way. States are changing their laws to open up statutes of limitation. They're changing their laws as to what requirements they want in place from organizations that deliver services to children, like the awareness training, but they're also tightening up their laws as it relates to reporting information and suspicions of abuse and neglect. Texas has probably the strictest reporting requirement in the country. There's not even an attorney-client privilege. No clergy privilege. There's no teacher privilege. There's no privilege in the state of Texas.
Jay Sedwick
Explain what clergy privilege is, too.
Greg Love
Some people think it's if you're having a conversation with a pastor, that's clergy privilege. Okay. It's just not. What technically the privilege means is there's a compelling state interest to protect the confidentially of certain communications like with your doctor or with your spouse. And a clergy privilege is if someone comes to you with a confessional type of communication and the person they're communicating with is a minister or – and it usually defines what is clergy – and it was shared with the expectation that it would remain confidential, then that information remains privilege. Okay? It's actually much more narrow than you think. In the state of Texas, they decided no.
Jay Sedwick
Doesn't exist.
Greg Love
No. If it's related to a child, abuse or neglect of a child –
Dr. Darrell Bock
Do you don't have to worry about it, in one sense.
Greg Love
Right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
If you hear it, you report it.
Greg Love
That's right.
Jay Sedwick
But most people don't understand that. They don’t realize that.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That's right.
Jay Sedwick
So a teenager comes to them in their office and is distraught and wants to tell them confidentially that this has happened or they've witnessed it happening, and the clergy member mistakenly believes that because of this clergy-penitent privilege that they think exists, they're not a mandatory reporter. They think that they're not required to report this abuse, but they are.
Greg Love
Yeah. In the state of Texas.
Jay Sedwick
In the state of Texas.
Greg Love
Now, different states will – they will specifically define who are those mandatory reporters from state to state, and it will always include teachers and medical professionals because we know statistically those are the people children are most likely to share information about abuse or neglect. So the laws will always make teachers and medical professionals mandatory reporters, but from that point sometimes it includes clergy, sometimes it doesn't. But all of the laws that I've seen are moving toward removing or making very, very narrow when you have a privilege. And so, for example, the common clergy privilege I see now is that if you receive information in that very narrow context of a penitent and a clergy member that's defined by the statute, but you receive that information from any other avenue, then it's all of a sudden reportable. Okay?

So if you hear from this person confessing, "I molested a child, and I need forgiveness, and I need," and then all of a sudden someone brings to you a report where a child has made the allegation against that person, that blows the privilege if you receive it from any other outside source. Now, the point of all of that is in the laws it's gonna identify who are your mandatory reporters. So there will be those very narrow privileges in some states, and those are getting more narrow. And it mandates that information be communicated to a designated entity; and oftentimes it will be a department of human services, a child protective service, the sheriff if it's a rural area that doesn't have one of those types of health and human services types of offices there. So the law will generally tell who they want communicating, what type of information they want communicated, where they want it communicated, in what time period, what type of protections are in place when somebody does make a good faith report like confidentiality and the ability to make anonymous reports, and what penalties are associated with a mandatory reporter failing to report. And those are changing from state to state, and they are not getting more loose. They are actually getting tighter.
Jay Sedwick
And many churches will mistakenly do what this church in Colorado did was, "We'll conduct our own internal investigation," and delay – this church, unfortunately, never reported. But some churches would say, "Well, let's just figure out – let's find out if these allegations are true on our own," and they almost always will violate the time period. What's the time period in most states for when you have to report?
Greg Love
That state will identify it. It's usually 24 to 48 hours.
Jay Sedwick
Very quick.
Greg Love
Sometimes it says immediately. Which is why you need to think through this in advance.
Jay Sedwick
Absolutely.
Greg Love
You don't wing it and think about it and create committees.
Dr. Darrell Bock
'Cause you don't have time to wing it.
Greg Love
Because the clock is ticking, and there's some significant consequences for doing it poorly. Now, going back, just to make sure that we stay true to the facts on that Colorado case. They actually contacted someone to determine, "Do we report this under Colorado law," and that person told them no. Unfortunately, there was a code section that said – the girl was no longer in harm's way, but that wasn't the trigger. The trigger was was the person being accused still in a position of leadership that could impact children that are minors – I mean impact children. And the answer was yes, and they didn't –
Jay Sedwick
And they didn't follow through.
Greg Love
Now, the situation that you alluded to where we thought about it for a while was more consistent with a situation that's very high profile that happened in Tulsa with a 17,000 member church, where there was some highly inappropriate behavior involving a 13-year-old girl. Five people in leadership knew about it, and two weeks later still hadn't done anything with that as it relates to reporting to the authorities, and all five of those leaders got arrested.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So I suspect that for some people the flip situation is what they fear, that is that they report a situation about someone when, in fact if I can say it, it didn't happen. But this person is stigmatized as having done so. What is the risk to leadership for making, if I can say it, that mistake?
Greg Love
Well, there's risks either way. It's a matter of which side of that do you want to – let me walk you through that 'cause I get that question a lot.
Jay Sedwick
I bet you do.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. 'Cause that's why think people hesitate to report.
Jay Sedwick
They're afraid to.
Dr. Darrell Bock
"What if we're wrong?"
Jay Sedwick
Right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Jay Sedwick
Ruin somebody's reputation.
Greg Love
And it's one of the things, also, that when you get this report, oftentimes it's being reported – this is reports we don't want. Okay? This is information like it's hard for us to believe. It doesn't fit into a – it's just no. And when the person comes to you reporting and this is, "Ah, this person is not very believable to me. It's a child. These things are crazy." And the person they're alleging to have engaged in this behavior is somebody in the organization that's very well respected. They're very good looking. They're educated. They have an attractive wife or husband, and they have children. It's just we fall down on not believing that it could possibly be true.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And that's why you say you can't look at the visual profile 'cause the visual profile misleads you.
Greg Love
Will fail you. Will fail you. The mandatory reporting is you don't go investigate it and confirm whether this happened or not. We are to report suspicions of abuse, not conclusions of abuse. So when these matters arise, even things that sound crazy – and this is why I like the phrase, so this is a pearl for everybody out there listening. That phrase is out of an abundance of caution comma.

So that when these situations come in, these people will call me and say, "Look, I don’t know whether it's abuse or not. I don’t know what I should do with it. I don't know if it's true or not," pick up the phone and just call whoever your law instructs you to call. It's like, "Look, I have a situation. I don’t know if it's reportable or not, but out of an abundance of caution, I wanted to share this with you," blank.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So you don't have to come to a conclusion to make the report. That's a very important point that's wrapped up in this.
Greg Love
You're specifically, in many cases, instructed not to come to a conclusion. You're not a forensic investigator. In fact, you may be doing a disservice to those people that want to help the child. Okay. But back to your original question. You get a report that comes in and you're struggling with is it a false allegation. When I deal with this as what I understand the law requires me to do, I'm gonna potentially impact this child's world, this staff member's world, our reputation in the community.

There are multiple layers that just are not foreseeable in terms of how bad this goes. Okay? Now, we need to keep in mind the Center for Disease Control tells us that of the children making reports of sexual abuse, between 92 to 98 percent of 'em are factual, even if the child recants. Okay? So there's a real high probability that what you're getting statistically is true, but when you get this information, even if it has all those indication of being – let's say, for example – and I hate to use me, but I'm in student ministry, and I know there's a spiritual target on my back if I'm effective in what I do. And the easiest way to derail me in student ministry is false allegation of sexual abuse.

But if someone were to have made an allegation against me, what I would immediately instruct my church is, "You need to pull me back out of leadership. You need to report this to the authorities. You need to potentially, depending on what the allegations are, communicate that to the area over which I have responsibility, into the youth ministry and tell 'em that, 'There's been an allegation. We've asked Greg to step away. We're gonna look into this, and we want to make sure all of you know about that. If there's any other information that you are aware of, then please come share that with us,' and let that system move forward."

And if ultimately somebody concludes that this is the eighth time this person's made a false outcry, this is whatever information could come forward. Because, you see, it's real hard to prove that a false allegation was the case. And so it's a real sense with that, I might be done in student ministry. Okay? So that's how I would advise somebody, and I would pull them out of leadership, and I would not keep it secret. See, those things that – when people finally learn something and it gives you any indication that there's like cover-up or hiding, then it just starts to go bad.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Plus, the person who's perpetrated this is counting on the fact that it will be kept quiet.
Greg Love
Right. In those situations where the person is a predator that ultimately is convicted or ultimately does plead guilty and things, that generally is the pattern. This person is accused. This person pushes back hard, whether, "This person's a liar. This person made a mistake. It was somebody else." One way or another resists all of the outcry, and then denies, then creates factions to get support, then the families are ostracized, and then oftentimes – too often, unfortunately, leadership sides with the person being accused. As a criminal investigation begins, this person ultimately pleads guilty and the church winds up feeling very foolish that they stood beside somebody to the great harm of a child and the family. That unfortunately is the way the story plays out.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. I'm gonna pick up a piece that you alluded to. When you say – using the scenario that involved you – you're pulled out, "We're gonna take a look at this." The word take a look at this involves the report and letting the people who you've reported to take a look at it. Is that what that involves, or is it an internal thing that you're talking about, or might it be both?
Greg Love
That's a good question, and thanks for pointing that out. Because let's say that, for example – you see, in that example I gave, I'm actually wearing a nametag of the organization. And if there truly was – if I were a sexual abuser and I know some of the facts that there's multiple victims, that there's lots of things that are happening without people seeing it clearly, then leadership should pull me out and then start inviting other people to give information. Okay? So in that sense, I'm not trying to investigate and operate in the role of law enforcement. I'm simply trying to give my families a voice to understand has this impacted other people than the one situation that's been brought to my attention.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Might there be something really going on here.
Greg Love
Right. But I am not taking the role of the authorities to be able to determine did this behavior happen, how often has it happened, is it appropriate for referring it to the criminal justice system. I'm not trying to do their job to establish the facts or to, unfortunately too often, disprove something that's happened, line up witnesses of character. Because the abuser is not just grooming a child for abuse, they're grooming all of the adults around as well.
Dr. Darrell Bock
For their protection.
Greg Love
To have that person believe they're helpful, trustworthy, and kind and not capable of that behavior. So law enforcement is going to, and the child protective systems, are going to determine is there a problem, what extent, is it referable to criminal justice. Now, if it were a situation – and this is more common for the church – where a child, say, comes to VBS and shares with somebody, "Here's what happens at my home when my mom leaves." So that it's an outcry that's being brought to the church that doesn't involve anybody wearing the church nametag. You see, there's still a downside for the church mishandling that.
Jay Sedwick
That person's still a mandatory reporter.
Greg Love
Right. So they notify law enforcement and law enforcement will do the work necessary to evaluate that particular case facts. But you see, in that sense, there's no further questioning or opportunity to give my families the ability to come forward because I'm not necessarily trying to determine did somebody wearing our nametag affect my community in a broader way than has been brought to my attention.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. So we've got three scenarios that I think we're working with now. I'm just trying to keep the map in front of people.
Greg Love
You want four?
Dr. Darrell Bock
I'm sure I can get more. But the interesting thing here is – what I'm hearing you say about the internal situation, let me stay focused there so we don't lose people. If there's something that goes within the group that is reported, what you're advising is is almost a dual track. And the one track is let law enforcement do their job. They're the professionals. They're supposed to determine what's gonna happen.

But it is a service to yourself as an organization to make sure that the one incident that's been reported is or is not an isolated incident. That's important to know, and that's something you're gonna have to work to determine. And obviously as more things surface, you're gonna also be constantly cross-referring back to the law enforcement to deal with anything that comes out of that process. But it's good for you to know what's going on within your own walls.
Greg Love
Right. But when an allegation comes out, generally you could have a multifaceted problem at that point. You could have a requirement of dealing with law enforcement, media, the families within your youth ministry or children's ministry, whatever ministry that was occurring in.
Dr. Darrell Bock
All the reaction that's gonna produce. Yeah.
Greg Love
The people congregation-wide, dealing with your insurance carrier, dealing with trying to evaluate whether you have a reasonable system and whether you need to make changes without creating exhibits A, B, and C for civil litigation. And every one of those situations is fact-dependent, and so when you're talking about general scenarios and the three avenues, I mean there could be eight. It's all fact-driven. And we've been trying to talk, or at least I have, at like 20,000; 25,000 feet. But if you have that situation, my recommendation would be, first, find good counsel, call your insurance agent or call your insurance carrier because those are your risk management people. They can help. They've been through this before.
Dr. Darrell Bock
They have the experience. Yeah.
Greg Love
And they can generally have access to resources you don't know that are available because that's what their role is in your life. So that when you get that situation, if you're not clear on what to do, then get some guidance and get it quickly because the facts are going to drive what you need to do next.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay, Jay, I kind of dropped in on your series of questions.
Jay Sedwick
That's okay. That's okay.
Dr. Darrell Bock
But you were – what else?
Jay Sedwick
Well, at least what we've been talking about leads to one of the things that I am very concerned about from a personal and professional way, and Greg is as well. He's alluded to it. Our first and foremost priority has to be to protect the children.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That's right.
Jay Sedwick
But I also have a strong desire to protect my own reputation. So there are things that I do to make sure that I don't put myself in a situation where a false accusation could be made. So what are some of the things that you would recommend for people who wear the nametag to do personally to make sure that they don't get themselves into a difficult situation?
Dr. Darrell Bock
And this question is being asked particularly of people who are in youth ministry who are susceptible to being put into this position.
Jay Sedwick
Exactly. Exactly.
Greg Love
Right. Especially youth ministry.
Jay Sedwick
Exactly.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Right. Right.
Greg Love
Because youth ministry is far more fluid, generally, than children's ministry. In my opinion, what I'd need for you to understand is if it's a false allegation, what it means is you look dangerously similar to somebody that might be engaged in this behavior to prepare a child for sexual abuse. Okay. Well, what does the authentic look like for someone to associate that with me? And generally what that would look like is being in the wrong place with somebody by myself or engaged in horseplay or inappropriate touch or talk. So once I understand what the grooming process looks like of a preferential offender grooming a teenager, for example, then I need to – and everybody's gonna be trained with understanding this is what that grooming process looks like.

Don't get anywhere near what that grooming process looks like. So what does that look like for me? If somebody sends me an off-color YouTube video link, I'm not gonna share that with my students. I do the best I can to delete that. If somebody's engaging in a bunch of horseplay, like at one church not far from here, they had two parents walk in and they were adult leaders at a youth camp. And the youth pastor had a bunch of children around in a circle and they were taking turns thumping each other's genitals. Okay, it's like I don’t know whether that person's a sexual abuser or not, but I would definitely put that in the category of you're an idiot. Okay? [Laughter] If I have to ask the question, "Are you doing that to groom these children and desensitize and try to introduce nudity and sexual touch, or are you just not bright?"
Jay Sedwick
Not bright. Wow.
Greg Love
Because either way I'm gonna dismiss that person from my program. But see, it's by knowing what the grooming process looks like, I know not only am I not gonna engage in that behavior, I'm gonna redirect that in the culture of my particular youth ministry. Same with touch. Okay. We can walk in and some people are just touchy. Some people just will hug. And for some children, you may not know that they'd already been victimized and that certain behavior might to them be construed as a prelude to something that's sexual that's about to follow.

And so in that sense it's important knowing the grooming process, knowing some of the statistics about what population you're dealing with to clearly identify what is and is not appropriate touch. Like what do guys like to do? Love to wrestle. Okay. But you see, with this melee of wrestling and big piles of people, it's hard to distinguish that person with an inappropriate motive between those people that are just not very bright and a bunch of grabbing and inappropriate touching and de-pantsing and just dumb stuff. But to clearly identify what is and is not appropriate touch, communicate it to my people so that if I do see it, now everybody understands exactly who to report that to and everybody knows the consequences.

Like at one of the camps we had, we trained clearly, told 'em who to share the information with, what we're gonna do with the information. Notwithstanding that instruction that I don't ever want to see your butt, this particular counselor mooned a group of people. One of the counselors knew exactly what to do with that information, shared it with leadership. An hour later this person's in the administrators office crying and swearing, "I'm not a sexual abuser." An hour later he was driving home.

Point, was he a sexual abuser? I don’t know, but I clearly communicated to you what was the appropriate and inappropriate types of behavior in this particular program. I saw the behavior which I've identified clearly, and I've asked you to leave 'cause idiots and sexual abusers both go home. So in that sense, I would want to know enough about what the grooming looks like, clearly identify what is going to be appropriate and inappropriate within my culture, and then tell people it's not a witch hunt. We all lock arms and we help each other do this well.

So if we see somebody a kid's crying because of a divorce situation or whatever in a room and they wind up by themselves because people are starting to leave the building, come alongside that person, "Hey, let's go out in the parking lot. Hey, can you finish this conversation at Starbucks?" One way or another we help each other not find ourselves in harm's way.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That's interesting. You're bringing back memories that I hadn't even thought about. I was a recreation worker for one summer in Austin. And we had a rule that was never explained to us why we had it other than – and that was you don't touch any of the kids. It was just like a you just don't, do not do this.

It was interesting. It was stressed to us that we didn’t do this, but at least I don't remember being given a particular explanation for why the rule existed, which always struck me as – I'm just sitting there doing my recreation work. It struck me as odd that they go out of their way to do this. But hearing this conversation, I can go, okay. I could see why working with thousands of people in rec centers across the city – or maybe hundreds, they would give this kind of an instruction.

It would have been, perhaps, a little nicer to have known why they were so insistent on this, but I still vividly remember getting, "They certainly are making a point of this. I wonder why." I thought it had to do with well, don't put yourself in a position where you're gonna strike a kid or punish them or spank them or whatever for doing something wrong. As a teenager, you might want to do that with a younger child, but you don't do that. That's the context I thought they might be thinking of, but I really didn't know.
Greg Love
But that illustrates the point we were trying to make earlier. You've gotta give people the why, the awareness training, before you can give them the what. Leadership has to understand the why before they can even create the what. Because for most people, rules are changes. We don't want rules, especially those of us that are working with teenagers. We want freedom to have fun and make this edgy. And giving them the why is necessary to get the what.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, we have run a little over time, and I appreciate the ground that we've covered.
Jay Sedwick
I've got a lot more, and he does too. [Laughs]
Dr. Darrell Bock
I normally don't do this on air, but I think I'm gonna do it now. What we normally do is when we realize we've only scratched the surface, I'll say I hope we have the opportunity to come back and take a little more look at some of this. Because I think once we listen to this the first time, we'll come around and think through, perhaps, a whole series of other follow up kinds of questions that relate. But I do appreciate you taking the time to get us oriented to this.

I can say in all honesty that when I heard the chapel and even after hearing the chapel and knowing that we needed to do this, I had no idea. And so this has been extremely helpful, and we appreciate you taking the time to be with us. And we hope this has been helpful to those of you who've listened. I want to thank Greg and Jay for joining us. And this is The Table, where we discuss issues of God and culture, and it does matter very much how you protect your children.
Darrell L. Bock
Darrell L. Bock Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than 30 books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
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