Skills for Safeguarding: A Guide to Preventing Abuse and Fostering Healing in the Church, By Lisa Compton and Taylor Patterson
Skills for Safeguarding
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: December 10, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A1073
  • ISBN: 9781514010730

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The Only Textbook on Safeguarding for Faith-Based Ministries and Seminaries

Christians are called to care for the vulnerable, but churches have not always led the way in becoming places safe from abuse. Increasingly, organizations and churches are recognizing the importance of the field of safeguarding: training and equipping people to prevent abuse, act when abuse happens, and promote healing for survivors.

Lisa Compton and Taylor Patterson have edited the first textbook on safeguarding designed specifically for faith-based ministries and seminaries. In Skills for Safeguarding, experts from universities around the world have contributed on topics in their areas of expertise. This book

  • provides an understanding of trauma and abuse from a Christian integration perspective;
  • gives insight into perpetrator dynamics and systems that enable abuse;
  • teaches skills necessary to interact with victims and their families;
  • includes questions for self-reflection and discussion; and more.

Safeguarders can be individuals hired by the church in a vocational role, but they can also be pastors and other church leaders, laypeople, mental health professionals, and anyone who desires to promote a safe environment. Ideally, every adult in the church should recognize their responsibility to safeguard and seek to grow in skills to better serve abuse survivors and cultivate a culture that protects the vulnerable. This book provides the essential starting place.

"The church and its ministries will be very grateful for this book! It provides an accessible and thorough account of how we can enact care and protection from abuse in the church. Readers can study the content, learn a great deal, and implement new ideas that will safeguard and then set the stage when healing is needed. I warmly recommend this book for any Christian context where there is a commitment to respond differently to the all-too-common issue of abuse."

Paul Loosemore, director of the Counseling Department at Covenant Theological Seminary

"This book covers extensive ground and will serve not only as a training manual for safeguarding officers but also as a text for any leader seeking to make church a safer place and to better respond to survivors and victims. Skills for Safeguarding should be required reading for those training for ministry—both lay and ordained. It is an excellent resource for all safeguarders in the church."

Julie Conalty, bishop of Birkenhead and deputy lead bishop for safeguarding in the Church of England

"In Skills for Safeguarding, Compton and Patterson have brought clarity and process to the role of safeguarding that make it much more accessible. They give us key warnings and tie the work of safeguarding to our biblical callings. The applications and reflections ensured that I was thinking about how this all applied to me in my context. A wonderful addition to kingdom work of bringing shalom to a troubled world."

Vern Salter, director of care and director of the John Powell Institute at Mission Training International

"Skills for Safeguarding is a unique resource that offers an in-depth understanding of abuse from the perspectives of both the abuser and the abused. This book features data and case studies from numerous experts, helping readers comprehend the grooming process used by abusers, which enables them to identify potential issues before the issues lead to victimization. Individuals who are supporting abused persons throughout the healing process can gain insight into the abused persons' thought processes and actions as well. I highly recommend ministries use Skills for Safeguarding as valuable training material for their staff and volunteers."

Denise O'Donoghue, director of biblical womanhood and target learning at Iron Academy / Academy 31

"Compton and Patterson offer a clear vision and practical strategies for addressing the trust deficit in churches and religious institutions. This indispensable resource provides leaders with the biblical and psychological categories and competencies necessary for safeguarding Christ's body, highlighting the beauty of the imago Dei. Written with care and compassion, this robust educational resource focuses on preventing abuse and mitigating the collateral damage when abuse is exposed. If you aspire to be a trustworthy leader, devoted to the peace and purity of the church, this book is replete with reliable behaviors and skills you can employ. I will be using this resource to train leaders for years to come."

Clifton Roth, executive director of CrossPoint

"A timely, much-needed book chock-full of practical wisdom about abuse prevention and response for church communities. This carefully constructed set of resources is a must-read for all church leaders if the church is to address the tragic reality of abuse in its midst and intentionally work toward becoming communities of healing."

Amanda W. Benckhuysen, author of The Gospel According to Eve: A History of Women's Interpretation

"More than a practical textbook for safeguarding, this is a theologically grounded call for advocacy. Richly informed by leading specialists, it offers not only a multiangled approach to understanding abuse and the effect it has on survivors but also a guide to self-care in developing the necessary skills for safeguarding. With helpful questions for both personal reflection and wider application, this is a book we should all lean into."

Marcus Pound, associate professor of theology and assistant director of the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University

"Skills for Safeguarding is a timely and helpful resource for any organization that works with children or other vulnerable populations. While there is not a perpetrator under every rock, abuse is far too common around the world, and the evil one knows all too well that if he wants to 'steal and kill and destroy' (John 10:10), abuse is a highly effective weapon. Bravo to these editors and contributors, or as Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"

Kenyon Knapp, licensed professional counselor and dean of the Liberty University School of Behavioral Sciences



Section I: Reality of Abuse
1. Foundational Knowledge of Safeguarding and Abuse
2. Abuse of Power

Section II: Abuse Systems, Dynamics, and Origins
3. Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic church
4. A Systems Lens for Understanding Abuse
5. Perpetrator Dynamics
6. Sexual Morality and Sexual Scripts

Section III: Impact of Abuse
7. Impact of Trauma
8. Trauma Survivors and Risk of Revictimization
9. Impact on Children and Adolescents

Section IV: Vulnerable Populations
10. Vulnerability of Children to Grooming Strategies
11. Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities

Section V: Skill Development
12. Empathetic Alliance
13. Listening and Responding
14. Emotion Regulation
15. Complexities of Safeguarding Care

Section VI: Care for Safeguarders
16. Hazards of Providing Care
17. Strengthening the Safeguarder
18. Conclusion: Education, Collaboration, and Resources



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Lisa Compton is associate professor and assistant director of the doctoral program in counselor education and supervision at Regent University. She is a licensed social worker, certified trauma treatment specialist, and coauthor of the textbook Preparing for Trauma Work in Clinical Mental Health.

Taylor Patterson is a licensed professional counselor specializing in trauma, including survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. She has presented at local and national conferences and is published in peer-reviewed journals. She is currently a PhD candidate in Counselor Education and Supervision.