Screening Children's Workers

James Cobble Jr. is executive director of Christian Ministry Resources and publisher of Church Law & Tax Report.

News reports have spotlighted the problem of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, but Protestant churches also have reason to be concerned. Our research indicates that on average, over the past ten years, approximately 3,500 churches per year have responded to allegations of sexual misconduct in church programs involving children or youth.

Thousands of churches have taken steps to reduce this problem. Yet much more still needs to be done.

Screening workers is essential to protecting children from sexual predators. Churches are making progress in screening paid employees, but screening volunteer workers remains problematic.

Nearly 3 out of 4 churches use a written application for paid workers, up from 47% in 1993. Yet, the vast majority of churches-almost 70 percent-do little to screen volunteers.

A bill pending in Congress would create a central agency to process ...

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