What Pastors Must Do to Protect Their Children from Porn

The Indiana home of Jared Fogle, best known as a weight-loss spokesperson for Subway, was raided early Tuesday morning by federal investigators. The reason for the raid is in connection with a child pornography investigation. The search started early this morning, with the FBI and local police participating.

In April of this year, Russell Taylor, director of The Jared Foundation, was arrested on child pornography and exploitation charges. The Jared Foundation was set up to raise awareness about childhood obesity and creating programs to inspire children to healthier, happier lifestyles. After the allegations came to light, Fogle and his foundation reportedly cut all ties with Taylor. Investigators have yet to comment on any connection between this morning’s raid and Russell Taylor.

This latest incident again raises the issues of child pornography and exploitation into the national conversation. It also provides pastors, Sunday school teachers, and parents with the opportunity to have conversations with children about safety.

Here are a few things you and your church staff can do to protect children who attend your church:

Review your policies about child pick-ups. Whether it’s from Sunday School or VBS, make sure you have a procedure in place to validate that the person who is picking up a child has permission to do so. If it’s someone other than the parent, check identification, confirm it against pick-up instructions from the parents. Communicate your policies to your church staff and congregation so everyone is aware of the requirements.

Know the signs of sexual predators. Arm your staff and yourself with knowledge about red flags when it comes to predators. There are several warning signs to look out for when dealing with a sexual predator.

  • Someone who singles out a child or a teen as a “special friend” and gives the child gifts or extra attention that is not age-appropriate.
  • Someone who insists upon or suggests a lot of alone time with a child or a teen, usually uninterrupted.
  • Someone who touches, tickles, or kisses past the comfort zone of the child or teen.
  • Someone who tells suggestive or adult jokes of a suggestive/sexual nature when kids or teens are present.

When it comes to this issue, resources are plentiful. The FBI has a list of resources to help parents and communities when it comes to the issue of child exploitation, both in the community and online.

Speak Up. If you suspect that an adult has an inappropriate relationship with a child or teen, speak up. Talk to your leadership team about appropriate ways to report incidents to your local authorities. Also, make sure you have a plan in place to address issues of inappropriate or sexual predator relationships in your church. Have they phone numbers to the police and child services in an easily accessible place.

Discernment is key when it comes to dealing with children and issues of a sexual nature. If a child comes to you and tells you that an adult has touched them inappropriately or makes them feel uncomfortable, it is important not to ignore them. Listen, investigate, and take the appropriate steps to deal with any incidents.

Remember, many times children pulled into inappropriate relationships with sexual predators are afraid and won’t speak up. Train your staff to know the warning signs in children. Be aware. Every child has the right to be and to feel safe around adults. And every adult has the responsibility to protect the children in their care.

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Carrie Kintz
Carrie Kintz is a freelance writer and communication strategist. She works with ministries and individuals across the country, helping them figure out what to say and how to say it in the digital space. Carrie has also spoken at conferences such as the Best of Social Media Summit and That Church Conference. When she's not writing (or tweeting), she enjoys hiking, time with friends and a good cup of coffee