Sexual Abuse PreventionConfidential support for individuals who have experienced abuse
Sexual Abuse and Harassment In the Church? Community?
There is someplace to turn
Abuse Prevention and Education Committee
What is Sexual Abuse? Sexual Abuse refers to demeaning/exploitative behaviour of a sexual nature ranging from jokes, to unwanted touching, to forced sexual activities. The church recognizes three forms of sexual abuse:
- Sexual Harassment is any attempt to coerce an unwilling person into a sexual relationship, or to subject a person to unwanted sexual attention, or to punish a refusal to comply, or to reward compliance.
- Pastoral Sexual Misconduct is sexual harassment, sexual abuse or any other sexual activity or conduct (including but not limited to sexual intercourse) in which a ministry staff person takes advantage of the vulnerability of a person under his/her pastoral care.
- Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault are defined within the Criminal Code of Canada.
Sexual Abuse shows no preference for age, race, appearance, gender, sexual orientation, or occupation. It may involve the abuse of:
- A parishioner by a minister
- A minister or employee by a church official
- A minister by another minister
- An adolescent by an education director
Child Abuse: If at any time you have reason to believe a child is being abused or neglected, it is important to remember – it is never the child’s fault that he or she is abused or neglected. As a member of the community, if you have reason to believe a child may be neglected or abused, you have a legal responsibility under The Child and Family Services Act to report your concerns to the Ministry of Social Services or to a police officer. You are asked only to report your suspicions – you are not expected to determine who may have caused the abuse or neglect.
United Church of Canada’s Response to Cases of Abuse: The United Church of Canada enacted a Sexual Abuse Policy for the entire church in 1993, last revised in 2013. The United Church of Canada Sexual Abuse Policy states: “The United Church of Canada will not tolerate and will seek to eradicate any behaviour by its members, lay and order of ministry, adherents, or employees that constitutes sexual abuse or child abuse.”
You can make a complaint if:
- You believe you may have been sexually abused by a person in a position of trust.
- You have first-hand knowledge of sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust.
- You are the parent or guardian of a minor who may have been sexually abused.
Anonymous complaints will not be acted upon under this policy.
The complainant contacts a designated consultant, who reviews the policy with the complainant and assists with putting the complaint in writing. The Conference Personnel Minister is notified and the process moves on to an investigation, decision, and recommendations.
All records and related material of complaints are kept confidential.
Who can I call to talk about the Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response Policy? We know that it is not easy to admit that sexual harassment and abuse takes place in our church, but it does happen. However, believe us, we are here for you.
Consultants offer the following support:
- A caring and receptive environment for individuals who believe they may be or have been victims of sexual harassment and abuse.
- Support through the procedures, prepared by The United Church of Canada, for dealing with cases of sexual harassment and abuse.
If you have questions or concerns, or are seeking a consultant, please contact Rev. Anna Constantin at Grace United Church, Edmonton, 780-466-0916, who is the Chair of the Conference Abuse Prevention and Education Committee
Earl Reaburn, Conference Personnel Minister 780-435-3995
Alberta & Northwest Conference Abuse Prevention and Education Committee. Through its Abuse Prevention and Education Committee (APEC), the Conference provides the support and training of our team of consultants and educational workshops for presbyteries and other groups
Members of the Abuse Prevention and Education Committee are: Anna Constantin (Chairperson), Shannon Mang, Murray Speer, Melanie Weaver, Gregory Parker, Debra Stockdale, Earl Reaburn (staff)
- United Church Background, Duty of Care program, and Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response Policy handbook
- Scripture Reflection by the Abuse Prevention and Education Committee
- Alberta & Northwest Conference Sexual Abuse Brochure (pdf) – updated version to come
- British Columbia Conference Sexual Abuse Brochure
- Saskatchewan Conference Sexual Abuse Brochure