My unit estimated that 70-80% of people on the sex-offenders' register attend church. Most sex offenders are never even reported, so those on the register are only the number reported and convicted. It would be nice to think they were seeking redemption, but that simply is not the case. Third Way MagazineThe above caught my eye on the Church Times Blog. I shook me up a little. As part of my training I had been on the appropriate Diocesan courses, and we had talked about how to deal with a sex offenders in the congregation, but I had assumed that this was the exception. Our diocese has 969 registered sex offenders (source here p2), which is not the same as paedophiles, which means that potentially 775 are church attenders - with just over 800 churches that means that, on average, there is 1 registered offender in each. Of course, there are likely to be many churches that would not attract an offender for the wrong reasons - so those churches with large children's ministries may well have more than one registered offender attending.
The article also included:
The NSPCC figure is 1 in 6 children suffer from abuse - that is all abuse, not just sexual - but those are just the reported cases.This didn't surprise me as a while ago I read this excellent report on Childhood Sexual Abuse:
Current estimates of prevalence, from random surveys in communities, suggest that, when CSA is defined as sexual contact, ranging from fondling to intercourse by someone at least five years older than them, between one-fifth and one-third of all women, have been sexually abused either as a child or as an adolescent.So, in this diocese it is quite likely that there will be an abuser in the congregation - and an almost racing certainty that there will be someone who has been abused.
If you preach will that change what you say on these topics? It certainly gave me pause for thought.