Letter: Churches need to speed up

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To the Editor:

The Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford County admires Scott Walker and Courtney Greene. WGNS radio host Scott Walker courageously shared that he was sexually abused as a child by a neighbor on News Channel 2 on March 21, 2016. Courtney Green is the brave young woman who shared her story of being sexually assaulted by her church youth pastor in the Tennessean front page news article on Sunday, April 17, 2016.

It is time for churches to get up to speed. Schools and non-profit agencies that serve children conduct thorough criminal background checks on staff and volunteers that work with children. Unfortunately, all churches do not provide the same protection to children. A pedophile will go where there are children and where adults do not conduct the background checks on staff and volunteers that protect children.

The state needs to require churches to have criminal background checks for church staff and volunteers, like FBI fingerprint background checks. Until the state requires this, churches need to protect children by adopting similar criminal background check policies as schools and non-profits. Often churches tell us they cannot afford expensive criminal background checks. We believe that you cannot afford not to conduct background checks. Children are counting on us to keep them safe. No church congregation wants to see any child in their church family sexually assaulted by a pedophile.

The Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford County is available to assist churches and other organizations in developing policies and procedures by utilizing the Darkness to Light training curriculum. In Rutherford and Cannon Counties, contact Ryan Wallace at the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford County for Information on Darkness to Light training at 615-867-9000.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Get involved. Attend an event in the community. In Rutherford County, you can lace up your tennis shoes and join us for the Hometown Heroes Walk for Children on Friday, April 29 at 12:00 noon at the Murfreesboro Civic Plaza, downtown on square. For more information or a walk registration form contact the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford County, Inc. at 615-867-9000.

Sharon De Boer,
Executive Director
Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford County, Inc.

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