Symposium on Child Abuse


Fostering Faith, Forgiveness and Flourishing

for Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse


International, Interfaith, Interdisciplinary

 “Virtual” Symposium on Child Abuse

Public Health Professionals, Religious Leaders and Pastoral Care Providers

Save the date: April 8 – 10, 2021



Keynote Address by the

Reverend, Dr. Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Laureate

Denis Mukwege_credit_Wolfgang_Schmidt/


Program Overview

Child sexual abuse is a serious global public health problem. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 1 in 5 women and 1 in 13 men report experiencing sexual abuse as a child. The fear of being shamed and stigmatized keeps many victims from reporting their abuse. Nearly half of adolescent girls experiencing sexual abuse never tell anyone, and 7 out of 10 victims never seek help.

Research suggests that a pastor is often the first person to receive a report of child sexual abuse. However, the wrong response to a revelation can undermine the victim's relationships with others and their faith in God and lead to significant behavioral problems and adverse health outcomes. While the role may be uncomfortable, Pastors are in a unique position to help guide parishioners and the faith community to pathways that will lead to the best possible outcome for all.

All religious leaders and pastors need to understand their role, integrate the survivor's voice and their family members into their ministry, and create a safe place for them to heal. This program brings together victims, health care providers, public health professionals, and religious and lay leaders of diverse faith traditions to accomplish this aim.


Program Outline

The program includes both live-streamed and pre-recorded presentations and will address the prevalence of child sexual abuse, its effect on the mind and body, its impact on one's relationship with God and other people; and how to care and advocate for survivors.  The conference includes:

  • Presentations from leading academics, theologians, child welfare advocates, health care professionals, and pastoral care providers with extensive experience in child sexual abuse prevention; restorative justice; spiritual healing; forgiveness; and flourishing
  • Round table discussions with survivors of child sexual abuse about their spiritual needs and how clergy can integrate the survivors and their family members voices into their ministry
  • Opportunities for multicultural, interfaith, interdisciplinary dialogue and round table discussions,
  • Develop a interdisciplinary network to support healing for survivors of sexual abuse.

Program Objectives

The objective of this conference is to grow the capacity for health care professionals, victim’s advocates, and current and future pastors and other spiritual care providers to develop, evaluate, and apply effective interventions to help prevent child sexual abuse in their communities; restore justice and improve the opportunities for survivors, and their family members to flourish. 


Target Audience

  • Theologians, Clergy, Persons Religious, Deacons and other Pastoral Care Practitioners
  • Child Welfare Professionals, Victim’s Advocates, and Counselors
  • Public Health, Health Care and Mental Health Professionals
  • Policy Makers
  • Social Workers and Social Welfare Professionals
  • Researchers and Academic Professionals with a Special Interest in Child Sexual Abuse