University to hold sexual abuse training seminars

On Sept. 27 and 28, all education, nursing and ministry students, as well as students who participate in BJU outreach ministries, will attend a sexual abuse training seminar. Women students may attend the seminar at 5:45 p.m. on Sept. 27, and men may attend at 8 p.m. Or, both men and women may attend on Sept. 28 at 9 a.m. All sessions will take place in Stratton Hall.

BJU has contracted with MinistrySafe to conduct the training. The seminar is designed to raise awareness of sexual abuse, to teach students the steps they need to take to protect themselves and others, and to prepare students to have a more effective ministry in the community and the workplace. The seminar will focus on protecting yourself from potentially questionable situations, how to identify children who have been sexually abused, and the steps to take once you are aware of an abusive situation.

Dr. Brian Carruthers, dean of the School of Education, participates in a group called Darkness to Light that provides similar evidence-based sexual abuse training for those who work with children. “The whole thing is really about building awareness for the students,” Carruthers said. “Students need to be aware of the responsibility they have to protect themselves in order to protect children. This is especially important as teachers, because we are required by law to report sexual abuse.”

The seminar will also cover topics such as the characteristics of abuse, tactics of abusers, what the effects of sexual abuse are on children, and tips on how to protect yourself and your group from accusation. According to Carruthers, statistics say that one in every four people has been abused to some degree.

“[The seminar] is important because of the culture we live in today,” he said. “Statistics are telling us that this is a really pervasive situation out there. We can’t just put our heads in the sand and hope the situation goes away. It’s [about] helping our students take that step of growing up and becoming professionals.”

Ms. Carol Keirstead, chief communications officer for the University, has also been instrumental in planning the training seminar. “The message that Bob Jones University is trying to send to the students is that this [training] is part of being trained as a whole person,” Keirstead said. “This training prepares you to be a good and informed citizen, and from a Christian point of view, this is the right thing to do. Students need to be aware.”

Even though certain groups of students are required to attend the seminar, all students are invited and encouraged to attend. If, during the seminar, any student feels uncomfortable, the University will provide counselors to speak with students afterward. “We want to do everything we can to help students as well as protect their privacy,” Keirstead said.

After the seminar, all students will need to take a short quiz on MinistrySafe’s website. By passing the quiz, the students, along with the University, will know they have been certified and are able to be involved in children’s ministries.