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Journal of Social Service Research

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While congregations have a spiritual mandate to be open and welcoming, they must be aware of the risks involved in ministry and be prepared to protect children from all types of abuse and neglect. In 2010 and again in 2018, Dove’s Nest, a nonprofit organization, conducted an online survey to determine the characteristics, practices, and experiences of Mennonite Church USA congregations with and without written child protection policies. The research questions for this study were: (1) What are the characteristics, practices, and experiences of congregations in regard to child protection, and how have they changed since 2010? (2) What is the relationship between types of congregations and their child protection practices? (3) What information and resources do congregations want to enhance their child protection practices? While improvements were made, especially among congregations without child protection policies, much remains to be done. In particular, improvements are needed among small churches in urban settings. Implications for social work practice are included. Other denominations should conduct similar studies and engage non-English-speaking members. Further research is also needed to discover the prevalence of abuse among church members, and the impact of policies and other practices on the prevention of child abuse.

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