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

April 8-10, 2021
Location: Online

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 brought 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 began on April 8, "World Day for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse." Over the course of three days the symposium addressed 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 was given by 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rev. Dr. Denis Mukwege. Rev. Gerard McGlone, S.J., a Berkley Center senior research fellow, participated as a panelist.

This event was hosted by the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science with support from the Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and other partners. For a full list of co-sponsors and symposium information, visit Harvard's event website.

Videos | For a complete set of symposium videos, please visit the April 8 World Day YouTube channel.

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