SNAP’s 21 Points

In February 2019, when Pope Francis opened the historic bishops’ synod in Rome to address clergy sex abuse of children, he also provided the synod with 21 points to consider as they worked. SNAP suggested 21 points of its own, as steps more pertinent to protecting children from predators and supporting survivors of those crimes.

  1. If you see something, say something!Report any suspected child sexual abuse to local law enforcement who are trained to investigate these cases. Here’s a list of reporting hotlines you can use for every state in the US.
  2. Educate yourself about child sexual abuse. Learn more about warning signs for sexual abuse hereand be prepared to make a report if anything seems wrong.
  3. Encourage open dialogue and don’t be afraid to talk about abuse. Ask all your children—including your adult children—if anything ever happened to them.
  4. Talk to your children about sex abuse. Make sure children understand that you are always there to help and that if anything happens to them you will believe them and that it is not theirfault.This resource can help.
  5. Encourage your friends and neighbors to learn about child sexual abuse.Educated communities are better able to prevent cases of abuse and intervene in ongoing cases.
  6. Be open to hearing about someone’s trauma.If someone tells you they were abused tell them “I am so sorry; I believe you; this isn’t your fault, how can I help you?”
  7. Invite survivors to share their stories at your church.The more that people are aware of sexual abuse, the more likely they are to get involved in prevention.
  8. Write letters to the editors about articles you see about abuse.Every article is an opportunity to educate others about prevention and protection.
  9. When you read an article about someone who was abused, make a positive comment in the comment section.Victims read the comments and you can make them feel they made the right choice by speaking out.
  10. Donate to an organization that works to protect children.Non-profits rely on your donations to provide programs that support survivors and help prevent abuse.
  11. Work to abolish laws that protect predators, not children. Statutes of Limitations on child sexual abuse, both criminally and civilly, create barriers to prosecuting abusers and finding justice for survivors. Help abolish SOL restrictions on child sexual abuse.
  12. Support laws that support survivors.Mandatory reporting laws for clergy and “look back” windows are just two examples of laws that protect children and support survivors.
  13. Ask your Bishop/Cardinal to release all the files on child sexual cases to local law enforcement and publish lists online.Every step the church takes towards transparency is a right step.
  14. Write to your Attorney General asking for an investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic church.So far, 17 states have started this process: let’s get all 50 involved! You can use this letter template to make your outreach easier.
  15. If you are a survivor, report your abuse to the attorney general.This can help encourage AGs to open investigations or create programs to help prevent abuse. Find a listing of active investigations and hotlines here.
  16. Stay informed on what’s happening!Read articles on the AbuseTrackerto keep informed of what is happening and how you can get involved to help.
  17. Volunteer your time to support survivors. Volunteering at a local Rape Crisis center or with an organization that works to with survivors can be valuable for you and helpful for survivors who need support.
  18. Attend a press event that SNAP hosts in your area.Just showing up and standing in solidarity with survivors helps them know they are supported and sends the message that everyone wants to stop abuse, not just survivors.
  19. If you are a survivor reach out for support.Silence is toxic, so join us and speak out. Support groups like these can help you heal!
  20. Read a book about the abuse crisis or watch a movie about the crisis. Books and films can help personalize the problem and let you gain a better understanding of the scope. Find suggestions here.
  21. Most importantly protect the children in your life by being educated and remaining vigilant. If each of us looks out for the children in our communities, we can play an active role in preventing sexual abuse.