has reported that approval of the ethics of clergy has dropped to only 50 percent.  This is the lowest the rating has been since the scandal in the Catholic church was report in which priest had sexually molested children and the Roman Catholic Church had systematically worked to cover up the abuse.

While questioning why this drop from 56 percent in 2008 to 50 percent in 2009, it is important that we not lose our perspective as ministers, teachers and elders within the mentally challenged community.  There are many pro-active things that we, as ministers, should do that will that will insure that we are not caught in a compromised situation. 

Some have reported that sexual abuse within the mentally challenged population is over 75 percent.  While we don’t believe the statistic is that high, one percent is too high.  It means that we MUST be proactive.

First, we should not be alone with one member.  Be sure that all events are public events.  Should someone need to speak with you “privately” move to another part of the room, not out of the room.  Move to a place where others cannot hear you but can still see you. 

Second, report all accusations of abuse to the proper authorities.  In every state, there is an 800 number that you can use to call and report abuse.  That number is found in the front of your phone book.  You can also Google for the number.

Third, understand that proactive steps will help to stem temptation.  Be aware, trust no one, especially yourself.

Fourth, require background checks for all volunteers and teachers in your program.  Be sure that all your teachers do not have private access to your members.