Resources for Churches
Information about mandatory reporting laws in West Virginia, creating a child protection policy, national helplines, the WV HELP app, and local organizations focused on abuse and related issues.
You can also read our weekly posts on the SHIELD blog or browse our blog archives for more helpful information. Some articles have particular relevance for faith communities and are tagged accordingly.
Mandatory Reporting Info
Under WV Code §49-2-803, members of the clergy as well as any “employee, coach or volunteer of an entity that provides organized activities for children” are classified as mandatory reporters. That includes most church employees and volunteers. In fact, most people who work with children in any capacity — including religious healers, mental health professionals, camp counselors, and teachers — are considered mandatory reporters under WV law.
Being a mandatory reporter means that you are required by law to report all reasonable suspicions of child abuse or neglect to DHHR within 24 hours.
Reporting to a supervisor or school administrator DOES NOT fulfill your legal duty as a mandatory reporter. You MUST file a direct report by calling the WV Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 800-352-6513.
For cases of serious physical abuse or sexual abuse/assault, you must also contact contact State Police and any law enforcement agency having jurisdiction to investigate.
Creating a Child Protection Policy
The most important thing a church can do in its efforts to prevent child abuse is to implement a strong child protection policy.
For guidance on creating or refining your church’s child protection policy, check out The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries by Basyle Tchividjian and Shira M. Berkovits.
We also highly recommend working with GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to make your church a safer place for children. Start by reviewing their list of common questions. Then read up on GRACE’s Safeguarding Initiative and consider pursuing Safeguarding Certification for your church.
If your church is currently dealing with abuse allegations, check out Diane Langberg’s article “Recommendations for Churches Dealing With Abuse.”
Finally, SHIELD offers a variety of trainings designed to educate church congregations, leadership, and volunteers. If you’d like to schedule a SHIELD training or event at your church, just fill out our event/training request form.
GRACE offers an ever-expanding list of resources that will help your church minister to its members and the broader community in a trauma-informed way. The GRACE website also features a list of books that church members and ministry leaders will find especially helpful.
You may also want to consider hosting a webcast of Becoming Trauma-Informed: Helping Kids Feel Safe at Church training by Ryan and Kayla North.
For more information, check out our Resources for Teachers page as well as the following articles and videos:
“How to Become a Trauma-Informed Congregation” (article for Christianity Today by Heather Davediuk Gingrich)
“Child Abuse Prevention at Church” (article by Jones Zimmerman for Ministry Matters)
“Why Be Trauma-Informed? A Training for Churches” (article and video by Chaplain Chris Haughee for ACEs Connection)
“How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across the Lifetime” (TED Talk by Nadine Burke Harris)
“Complex Trauma: Understanding and Treatment” (lecture by Dr. Diane Langberg)
“Child Advocacy Studies: Incorporating ACE Into Undergraduate and Graduate Programs” (presentation by Victor Veith)
“Like a Footprint in Wet Cement: Understanding Adverse Childhood Experience Research” (webinar by Victor Veith)
“Ministry and #MeToo | Episode 2: The Psychology of Abuse” (lecture by Diane Langberg)
Additionally, the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at TCU has posted a list of articles and online videos related to its Trauma-Based Relational Intervention (TRBI) model. TRBI an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. You can also buy digital or DVD copies of various TBRI lectures online.
Below are some helplines available for victims and people in crisis, organized by topic. Church pastors, volunteers, leaders, and members may need to call these hotlines themselves or pass them along to others in need of help.
Alcohol and Drugs
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration: 800-662-4357
Childhelp: 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453)
Child Sexual Abuse
Darkness to Light: 866-FOR-LIGHT (866-367-5444)
Child Welfare Information Gateway: 800-394-3366 or live chat on website
Crime Connect Hotline: 855-4-VICTIM (855-484-2846)
Crisis (Any Kind)
Crisis Text Line: Text “LISTEN” to 741-741
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800−799−7233
National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888-373-7888 or text “Be Free” to 233733
Missing or Abducted Children
Child Find of America 800-I-AM-LOST (800-426-5678)
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: 800-THE-LOST (800-843-5678)
National Parent Helpline: 855-4-A-PARENT (855-427-2736)
National Capital Poison Control Center: 800-222-1222
American Pregnancy Helpline: 866-942-6466
Option Line: 800-712-HELP or text “HELPLINE” to 313131
Crisis Pregnancy Helpline: 800-672-2296
National Life Center: 800-848-LOVE
National Runaway Safeline: 800-786-2929
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673)
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)
Prevent Suicide WV: 304-415-5787
WV Child Abuse Hotline: 800-352-6513
WV Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN)
WV Coalition Against Domestic Violence
WV Crime Victim Compensation Fund: 304-347-4850
WV Foundation for Rape and Information Services (WVFRIS)
State Coordinator: 304-366-9500