Question:I am a pre-teen/teen sabbath school teacher and I love what I do. However I recently received word that one of the children who attends my class has been physically abused (beaten). My heart breaks for him but I don't know how to handle the situation. I am afraid that if I bring it to the parent's attention the family will stop coming to church. I just need him (the child) to know that God loves him very much and I do too. How should I handle this situation? Please help. God bless your ministry.
Thanks for your question. In virtually every state, youth workers are mandated reporters and must report to the appropriate authorities. The most important issue is not whether or not the parents will stop coming to church, but to protect the child. If you don't report, not only will you likely be breaking the law, and worse, it's likely that the abuse will continue. The abuse needs to be stopped and the only way is to bring in outside help. That is what the "law for reporting" is there for.
For instance, in the state of California if you even suspect a child is being abused sexually, physically, or emotionally - you are required to report within 36 hours to Child Protective Services.
After reporting, you will also want to inform the youth pastor or pastor, so that they will know what the situation is.
As for the boy - when it comes to abuse, it is so difficult to help them see God in the midst of the ordeal. Kids who are abused ask, "So where was God is the middle of all this." That's a great question. What he needs is for you to continue to be the incarnational love of God in his life - to love him unconditionally and seek to walk with him through all this abuse. What he needs is someone who will love him as Jesus loves him.
Blessings to you and thank you for looking out for this young man's safety.
The HomeWord Team