Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse

Children serving in a church in Middletown, CT.

Child sexual abuse is a serious global public health problem with significant adverse impacts to the health and well-being of those who have been victimized. Studies indicate that when sexual assault victims receive psychosocial support from professionals or lay workers trained in evidence-based approaches to counseling, they report improved mental health, including decreased trauma-associated symptoms. However, a wrong response to a sexual assault disclosure can result in significant psychological stress, undermine the victim's relationships with others, and threaten their resilience, particularly as it relates to their faith or other core beliefs.

This symposium will bring together health care and public health providers, religious and spiritual leaders, and lay leaders of diverse faith traditions to explore best practices for providing a holistic approach that integrates psychological and spiritual care into the prevention and healing of childhood sexual abuse. The symposium will begin on April 8, "World Day for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse." Over the course of three days the symposium will address the prevalence of child sexual abuse; its effect on the mind and body; its impact on one's relationship with their faith and with others; effective strategies for prevention of sexual violence against children; and how to care and advocate for survivors. A keynote address will be given by 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rev. Dr. Denis Mukwege. Rev. Gerard McGlone, S.J., a Berkley Center senior research fellow, will participate as a panelist.

Full symposium information and registration is available here.

This event is co-sponsored by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; Arigatou International; the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science; Harvard Divinity School; the Harvard Initiative on Health, Religion, and Spirituality; the New York Board of Rabbis; the Harvard Catholic Forum; Prevent Child Abuse America; Darkness to Light; Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities; the Catholic Project at Catholic University of America; and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University.

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