Jacksonville, FL – In 2024, the Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention (ECAP) is hosting a series of events called Safeguards 4 Kids for parents and caregivers to help them protect the vulnerable in their communities. These events will take place over the course of three weekends in March-April, and will resume with more dates in the fall. They will host the first two weekends in March in Jacksonville and Orlando, FL, with an online presentation and an event in Kansas City, MO in April.
1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. What can Christians do to change these disturbing facts? Julie Lowe, author of Safeguards: Shielding Our Homes and Equipping Our Kids, argues that Christians must equip kids with the tools to discern good from evil and walk with wisdom in a fallen world. This event is geared towards Christian parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, volunteers, or anyone else who interacts with kids and wants to keep them safe.
Lowe will help these caregivers know how to start difficult conversations with the children in their lives about abuse, and help them know how to respond in an unsafe interaction. Christians need to have these conversations so that we can lay a foundation of Biblical wisdom based on real threats, not based on fear or anxiety. Julie has written, “Keeping our children safe means we teach them God’s ways – how he created us to live following him. Safety is built on the foundation of discerning right from wrong.”
This is a part of a new initiative for ECAP, seeking to raise awareness among parents and caregivers about the problem of abuse, and to help Christians equip their kids with abuse prevention principles from a Christian worldview. Jeff Dalrymple, Executive Director of ECAP, said, “We want to get the message out to Christian parents that abuse is a problem and we need to do something about it.” ECAP has produced a Parent Resources page seeking to help Christian caregivers understand the problem of abuse and what they can do about it.
One of the myths that Lowe seeks to disprove is the myth of “Stranger Danger.” While this message was well-intended, it likely did not prevent as much abuse as we thought. As many as 58% of abusers are acquaintances of the victim, and the victim knew their perpetrator in as many as 80% of rape cases. Since we can’t and shouldn’t cut our kids off from the blessings of community and church, what can we do to help them resist abuse? We can educate them on appropriate and inappropriate behavior from adults and other children, equip them with the confidence to resist abusive behavior, and offer them channels to unashamedly report abusive behavior to a trusted adult.
This event is not just a call to parents, but it is also a challenge to Christian ministry leaders to take the problem of abuse seriously, and consider implementing abuse prevention training and material as a part of their ministry. “Ministries should be safe places where kids can hear the gospel and grow in discipleship, but we have found that the average ministry has never done a risk assessment on their own operations with children,” said Briggham Winkler, General Editor of ECAP. “Many ministry leaders aren’t even sure about the Mandatory Reporting Laws in their own jurisdiction. How can we trust they will properly respond to abuse that may be uncovered in their ministry?”
ECAP seeks to help ministries grow in their ability to equip children to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. They seek to help churches be places where difficult conversations can happen, and where volunteers and leaders can be trusted to wisely steward the resources God has given them.
ECAP believes that abuse prevention and transparency in response is a Great Commission issue for churches and Christian ministries. Chap Bettis of The Disciple-Making Parent said, “Hypocrisy in a parent or church leader is the number one reason children walk away from the faith. Therefore, it is devastating to the whole community when abuse is not prevented. We must be committed to the safety of the next generation for the sake of the gospel.”
These events will also feature short talks from representatives of The Secret Service and One More Child, who will address the problem of online safety and human trafficking, respectively. ECAP is able to host these events thanks to the generous sponsorships of The Idlewild Foundation, the Florida Baptist Convention, The Joy FM, Awana, and The Disciple-Making Parent. Sponsorships are still available for single events, or for the whole tour.
You can learn more about the Safeguards tour at www.safeguards4kids.org