Dordt College News

Preparing Churches to Protect Children: Author of “Let the Children Come” speaks at Dordt College

February 28, 2012

What can churches do to prevent child abuse and neglect in their communities? How can community professionals partner with churches to strengthen families and protect children?

These questions will shape the discussion that author and advocate Dr. Jeanette Harder will lead at Dordt College February 29, at 6:30 p.m. in classroom SB101 in the Science and Technology Center. The discussion, sponsored by the Dordt College social work department, is designed to help focus people’s attention on how the church can play a protecting and healing role.

Harder argues that churches need to be better-informed and willing to do the work of battling child abuse. “Sadly, children are being hurt and killed every day through abuse and neglect. While the church would like to believe that ‘it doesn’t happen here,’ research and experience tell us that it does,” said Harder. “Members of our faith communities need training to recognize the signs of abuse and to know how to respond. Faith communities need to be reminded of their role in protecting children, strengthening families, and ending child abuse and neglect.”

Harder holds a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington and is an associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Grace Abbott School of Social Work. Her recently published book, Let the Children Come: Preparing Faith Communities to End Child Abuse and Neglect, is her first book, and she has written in several other books and publications throughout her career. She is also a co-founder of The Dove’s Nest Collaborative, an organization that works to educate Christians about child abuse and neglect, provide resources, and empower and equip them to protect children within their own churches and communities.

Following the hour-long discussion, a panel of professionals who fight child abuse in various ways will answer questions from Harder and the audience. Panelists include Pastor Verlyn Boone, Sheriff Dan Altena, Clinical Social Worker Tara Boer who specializes in therapy with children who have experienced trauma, and Safe Environment Coordinator Colleen Sulsberger.

RSVPs are appreciated by February 24 to Registration will also be available at the door. Copies of Harder’s book will be available for purchase.

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