Collin Co. program aims at fighting child abuse in churches

A Collin County organization is trying to end child abuse in churches. Hannah Davis reports.

Right now, nine churches in North Texas have completed the Partners in Protection program: A series of classes and educational opportunities put on by Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County.

Katy Seitzler helps run the program and says it's designed to detect and prevent abuse inside and outside the church.

"Religious organizations have a special opportunity to be there for young children," Seitzler said.

The program comes as many religious organizations have been in the news for abuse from clergy or staff in positions of power. Teaching Pastor Jarrett Stephens with Prestonwood Baptist church has gone through the training, like most people who work at the Plano house of worship.

"Historically, churches have been behind the eight ball on this topic and we want to change that through example," Stephens said.

Stephens knows the impact abuse can have on children. He says he was victimized by a childhood coach from the ages of eight to 12.

"If you look at the numbers you see it's an epidemic,” Stephens said. “It's happening in our own backyard.”

Whether abuse is happening in the church, at school or at home, Stephens says church staff should be trained to look for signs and know what to do if they think something is going on.

"As a church, we can't be naive," he said.

He encourages other faith communities in Collin County to participate in the Partners in Protection program. If you'd like information on how your church can join, go here.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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