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Youth at Risk

Protecting Teens

Group Of Kids Showing Stop Gesture With Crossed Hands

An article based on the Safety Member Certification training module "Protecting Children from Abuse v4"[1] and the "How to Prevent" chapter in the "Safety and Education" section of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offenders Public Website.[2]

From the Bible

*Tamar was most likely a teen when her half-brother raped her:
And when [Tamar] had brought [food] unto him to eat, [Amnon] took hold of her, and said unto her, “Come lie with me, my sister.”
And she answered him, “Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly. And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee.”
Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her (2 Sam 13:11-14).

* The Law addresses situations where a damsel (teenaged girl) has been compromised:
But if a man find a betrothed [promised to marriage] damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die. But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.
If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days (Deuteronomy 22:25-29).

* The Mosaic Law forbids incest (the wording in this verse includes both daughters and step-daughters, and both granddaughters and step-granddaughters; other forms of incest are forbidden in other verses):
Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son's daughter, or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness (Leviticus 18:17).


Because their bodies, hormones, and emotional needs are changing, teens are especially vulnerable to manipulation by sexual predators. This is why they need us to educate them, counsel them, comfort them, listen to their concerns, and take measures to protect them.

In the News

Sadly, almost all new stories of teens and sex are about abuse:

New York City, November 30, 1997 - Members of a church saw the youth pastor as a "father figure" to the church's teens - that is until police officers showed up on a Sunday morning and arrested him. He was charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy for four months.[3]

Staten Island, New York City, January 2014 - A female basketball coach at a Christian high school resigned after it became widely known that she was having sex with a 16-year-old male student. Another female basketball coach, who was sleeping with a female student, also resigned, as did the school's athletic director, who knew of the affairs.[4]

Rancho Cucamonga, California, July 22, 2021 - The founding pastor of a church was arrested for sexual abuse of a minor under age 14. An investigation began in April after a girl (age 14) reported to the sheriff's office that he had sexually abused her from age 9 to age 12.[5]

Bridgeport, West Virginia, April 12, 2022 - A girl reported to police that a Morgantown man had abused her sexually for four years, from age 14 until she was 18. He was arrested and charged with sexual abuse of a minor.[6]

Loudoun County, Virginia, October 12, 2021 - Parents of students, including the father of a girl who'd been raped, confronted the school board demanding to know why the student who raped the girl had been transferred to another school. At the second school, he allegedly trapped and groped another girl. The parents demanded changes in the policies that allowed these incidents to happen.[7]

Forrest City, Arkansas, April 4, 2022 - Police filed charges of child sexual abuse against the now-former youth pastor of a church. At least four girls filed police reports against him. One, age 17, said he repeatedly hugged her closely when she was 14, then persuaded her to have sex with him (in the church) when she was 15.[8]

Videocast and Show Notes

This article is discussed in a videocast on the YouTube channel Sheepdog Church Security Academy (the audio is in a Church Security Roll Call podcast on Sound Cloud). In it, Kris draws on his military, law enforcement, and church security experience as he covers the subject. Subscribe to the channel to not miss any videocasts.

Below the video screen is a link to the Weekly Show Notes. These article summaries are PDFs which can be printed and shared for teaching and for discussions of the topics. The link for this article is active until the next article is posted a week later.

The Risk to Youth of Sexual Abuse

Teens are especially attractive to sexual predators. They are becoming sexually mature, but still have the freshness of youth. Their innocence attracts those seeking to be the first experience for someone, and naïveté makes many youths easy prey.

There is a reason why states have set ages of legal consent. Experience has shown that, as a general rule, young people do not adequately consider the long-range consequences of their decisions when below a certain age - though there are both younger and older exceptions. This principle has precedence in the biblical concept of the age of accountability.

In most states, the age of legal consent for most transactions is 18, and is 21 for alcohol consumption. The age of consent for sexual relations is also 18 in most states, somewhat younger in a few. The reason is obvious. Adults and older youth can take unfair advantage of the naïveté of youth to rob them of their innocence. The 17-year-old in Arkansas said she cries when she remembers her experience.[8]

Many abused youth have troubled marital relationships later in life. A lifetime of trouble from sexual abuse is not anything new. In 2 Samuel 13-18, Tamar probably never married nor had children. Her half-brother was murdered by her full brother, who years later died in a revolt against their father.

Although some news headlines tell about rape and assault by strangers and barely-known acquaintances, most sexual assaults are by persons already well-known to the victims. For children and youth, these are mostly family members, friends, and authority persons. Family members may include parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, older siblings, and cousins. Family friends are usually adults and older youth. Authority persons usually include teachers, pastors, group leaders, and coaches. Not all offenders are men; some are women.

The quoted laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy prohibit sexual exploitation within the family. Also, if a man seduces an un-betrothed virgin, he marries her and cannot divorce her (can't just throw her away).

How Can We Protect Teens?

We can protect our adolescents by example, education and counselling, screening, and heeding.

By Example

First of all, for good or for bad, we lead by example. Our youth need to see us setting and living within boundaries. We do not act inappropriately with those who are not our spouses. We show affection to our children, but with certain lines not crossed. Our speech is modest, we do not use pornography, and we are careful about what we read, watch, and listen to.

By Education and Counselling

As young persons are going through puberty, they need to know what's happening to their bodies, why they feel the way they do, and how to handle their impulses. This includes how to relate to members of the opposite sex in social settings and one-on-one. They need to learn how to set boundaries for themselves. Teens also should know what to do when someone attempts to cross those lines.

More particularly for this article, a teen needs to recognize grooming in order to avoid it and resist it. Sexual predators know how to stir up an adolescent's passions and how to condition their targets to participate in sexual activity. For example, the youth pastor in Forrest City began with close hugging. If teens are wary of grooming, then they can move away from it. Grooming can be done not only by adults, but also by sexually active teens.

The "How to Prevent" chapter on the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offenders Public Website has a "How to Talk to Your Teen" segment. An outline of the advice is:

Following this is a list (with links) of other resources:

A page on is "Helping Teens Resist Sexual Pressure" (last updated in 2009). It lists five reasons a teen is more likely to engage in sex. Then it advises abstinence as "A Positive Approach" and gives examples of what to say. Following is how to advise teens in resisting sexual pressure. This includes example of questions to ask and questions to answer. It also gives examples of what a teen can say to ward off (refuse) sexual advances.[9]

By Screening

When possible, try to keep sexual predators away from our teens. This means screening and re-screening those who have contact with them in our church, including off-site activities. Those in leadership include pastors, teachers, counselors, activity leaders, and youth leaders. Some organizations, such as Protect My Ministry, help churches to screen pastors, staff, and volunteers more effectively.[10] The church can also search the National Sex Offenders Public Website for sex offenders in the community, or search for an applicant or someone who is already a volunteer, staff member, or pastor.[11]

By Heeding

One reason for talking with your teens about sexuality (in an age-appropriate manner) is to give them enough confidence to talk with you when they have questions or concerns. Let them know that it's OK to tell you if a person - even someone in the family or a family friend - makes them feel uncomfortable. It might not be an overt move, but grooming, such as expensive or unusual gifts or borderline touching.

If you believe there is inappropriate behavior between someone and your teen (the offender could be another teen), you can address that issue with the involved person(s). If the teen is your student (or a student where you work), someone you counsel, a member of a group you lead, or is in a church where you are a pastor, on staff, or a volunteer, this should be reported to the proper persons who can follow up (the follow-up should include a new sex offender search, including former and present residences and locations of employment). If the behavior constitutes sexual abuse* (or you have good reason to believe it does), then it must be reported to the authorities.

* Sexual abuse includes inappropriate touching, voyeurism, requests for sexual activity, exhibitionism, sex acts, etc.


We should recognize that our teens are at risk of sexual abuse, then do what we can to reduce that risk. This includes teaching the teens to recognize attempts at grooming, and encouraging them to confide in parents and/or teachers.

Training Notes

Each Church Safety Team is encouraged to have all its members trained and certified through the Safety Member Certification program (including "Protecting Children from Abuse v4"). Each person who takes all the training modules and passes all the certification tests will be a Certified Safety Member for two years.[1]

Three formats of training are available:

Kris personally teaches the online events on Sunday afternoons at 3 pm Central Time (4 pm Eastern, 2 pm Mountain, 1 pm Pacific). The 2022-2023 schedule begins in September with four quarters, as shown below:





Training Module


Sep 11

Nov 13

Jan 29

Mar 26

Safety Team Fundamentals


Sep 18

Nov 20

Feb 5

Apr 2

Active Shooter Response


Sep 25

Dec 4

Feb 12

Apr 16

Deescalating Disruptive Persons


Oct 2

Dec 11

Feb 19

Apr 23

Protecting Children from Abuse


Oct 9

Dec 18

Feb 26

Apr 30

Basic Use of Force Laws


Oct 16

Jan 8

Mar 5

May 7

Arson and Fire Safety


Oct 23

Jan 13

Mar 12

May 21

Storms and Disasters


Nov 6

Jan 22

Mar 19

Jun 4

Mass Trauma Emergencies

There Is More

August has five weekly articles. The other four are 2017 "St. Alphonsus Church Shooting" (Lesson Learned), "Moving Perception" (Patrol Procedures), "A Drilled Response" (Tactical Training), and "A Library of Resources" (Worship Security Association).


  1. Kris Moloney, "Protecting Children from Abuse v4," Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020 [].
  2. Staff Writers, "Safety and Education: How to Prevent," Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice [].
  3. Randy Kennedy, "Church Youth Leader Accused Of Sexually Abusing Boy, 14," New York Times, December 1, 1997 [].
  4. Brad Hamilton, "Female coaches ‘had sex with students for years'," New York Post, August 30, 2014 [].
  5. Jessica Schladebeck, "California pastor arrested after teen comes forward with sexual abuse allegations," New York Daily News, July 24, 2021 [].
  6. WDTV News Staff, "Morgantown man accused of sexually abusing teen for years," WDTV CBS5, April 12, 2022 [].
  7. Minyvonne Burke, "Teen charged with sexually assaulting student is accused of groping another: Parents at a heated board meeting demanded to know why the suspect was allowed to transfer schools," NBC News, October 15, 2021 [].
  8. Andrew Ellison, "Former youth pastor accused of sexually assaulting girl at church," WREG News3, April 5, 2022 [].
  9. Anon, "Helping Teens Resist Sexual Pressure,", last updated in 2009 []; Source: Philip Bashe (Author) and Donald Greydanus (Editor), Caring for Your Teenager, Bantam Dell division of Random House, Copyright © 2003 by American Academy of Pediatrics.
  10. Sheepdog Church Security sign-up link, Protect My Ministry, 2021 [].
  11. Staff Writers, "Dru Katrina Sjodin 1981 - 2003," Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice [].