Winona hosts child abuse conference

News 8000

Author: Leah Linscheid,
Published On: Apr 28 2014

WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) –
A local organization is addressing a growing national concern for sexually abused children.

People often consider their churches or congregations a part of their family, and one of the places they feel most safe and welcome. Unfortunately, that can include sexual predators. According to national studies, 93 percent of sexual offenders consider themselves religious, and 20 percent of congregations have at least one convicted sex offender among their ranks. Those and other statistics have spurred the National Child Protection Center into action.

The center, based in Winona, has brought in faith communities from all corners of the country this week for a course on sexual assault, called Chaplains for Children. It’s the first program of its kind, and it’s addressing a problem that experts say is bigger than people realize.

“We increasingly realized in the child protection community how often sex offenders are engaged in religious activities,” said Victor Vieth, executive director for the center. “Research says sex offenders prey on the gullibity, they prey on the belief that this could never happen in our congregation. They consciously seek out congregations that never talk about child abuse, and don’t have good child protection policies.”

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