Introduction and Definition of Abuse

We understand intellectually that abuse happens, but we may have difficulty accepting that it can happen within our programs and within our Hope Fellowship family. The following program has been developed to educate ministers, staff and volunteers on the very real threat of child abuse and to provide policies and procedures for fulfilling our Biblical and civic responsibility to protect children. All such persons are bound to abide by the policies and procedures contained in this training. Please carefully read each section of this training and indicate that you have read, understand, and agree to comply by the stated policies and procedures.

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* 1. Purpose Statement

Hope Fellowship is committed to protecting and releasing in children the calling God has placed on their lives.  First Thessalonians 5:23 is our guide:  “... may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete ...” (NASB).  We have been charged by God with the responsibility of protecting each child’s spirit, soul, and body and will do everything possible to ensure that charge is fulfilled. We are committed to creating a safe and nurturing environment that fosters spiritual, emotional and physical health for all children who participate in our ministries. We are also committed to protecting staff members and volunteers from unwarranted accusations. 

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* 2. Definition of Abuse

In general, child abuse is any physical, emotional, or sexual maltreatment, neglect of health and welfare, or exposure to unreasonable risk of harm related to a minor. Whether or not a situation involves abuse may depend upon the circumstances of the situation. Child abuse may include, but is not limited to, the following: 
  • Intentionally inflicting injury upon a minor 
  • Placing a minor in a situation where he or she is likely to be injured 
  • Engaging or allowing a minor to be engaged in sexual activity 
  • Allowing a minor to witness sexual acts or to be exposed to pornographic materials 
  • Allowing a minor to witness the abuse of another individual 
  • Inflicting excessive punishment on a minor 
  • Allowing a minor to be given or to consume illegal controlled substances 
  • Neglecting a minor by withholding or denying food, water, clothing, shelter, medical care, unnecessarily restricting freedom of movement, or failure to protect 
  • Allowing or perpetrating any form of exploitation of a minor 

Sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to, any contact or interaction between a minor and an adult, when the minor is being used for sexual stimulation of one or more adults. Sexual behavior between an adult and a minor is always considered non-consensual even when the minor agrees to or initiates the behavior. 

Emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior attacking a child’s self-worth. It includes belittling, terrorizing, isolating, rejecting, ignoring, and corrupting the child.  When continued over a period of time, these activities affect the child’s emotional development.  

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