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The following case studies are intended to get you thinking about how Breaking the Silence applies in a variety of situations. Choose three case studies to complete. For each case study, read through the scenario and consider the questions provided – not all will be applicable.

  • What is the key issue?
  • What do you need to do to make the person safe?
  • What is the first thing you would do / say in this situation?
  • Who should you inform (CPU, church leadership, parents, other leaders…)?
  • Where should the conversation take place?
  • Does the situation describe abuse?
  • Which elements of the Code of Conduct might apply?
  • What are the boundaries that need to be considered?
  • Are there other issues that concern you in this scenario that may not be covered by the Code of Conduct?
  • What needs to happen for the Code of Conduct to be kept and appropriate boundaries established?

Steven is a 14 year old boy, the son of an elder in the church and a nice young man. He participates in different aspects of church life and sometimes helps you teach Sunday School when there are a lot of children. You’ve recently noticed that he is acting aggressively towards some children and ask him if he’s okay. Steven says he is fine. Weeks later, after the Sunday morning service, Steven approaches you to have a chat – in private please – as he is troubled by something.

What is your response?

Steven appears very worried, is teary and embarrassed. He finds it difficult, but tells you that his older brother, who is 21, showed him some pornographic images on the internet when he was visiting a few weeks ago. He feels so bad about seeing them but can’t get them out of his mind.

What is your response?

Steven’s brother told him to ‘man up’ as he’s such a ‘mummy’s boy’. He knows he will be in big trouble if his father finds out and begs you not to tell his dad.

What is your response?

Elspeth is a lady in her 50’s at your church. She has had some periods of mental illness in her life and she struggles to care for her young adult son who has depression. Elspeth’s husband passed away many years ago and it is just her and her son at home.

Elspeth comes to you one day to say that she is upset because the elder that visits her “made a pass” at her. She wants to know what she should do. 

What is your response?

Jack has been involved in your church since his family moved to the area a few years ago. His family have joined in all aspects of church life too. Jack is 13 and just started becoming involved in the activities for high school aged youth.

You notice one Sunday that Jack has bruising on his legs – Jack says that he was playing a game at Youth last week and crashed into the chairs. A few weeks later, Jack has a bruise on his forearm – again he dismisses it as being from games at Youth Group. You think nothing more about it until a month goes by and Jack has a broken arm, which happened at Youth. You hear that the Youth games are quite rough and the smaller guys are often used to show the strength of the older boys. When you mention this to Jack, he says he doesn’t want to talk about it, and he is no longer going to Youth. 

What is your response?

Mitchell is a man in his 30’s who attends church without his family, although you know his wife, Amy, through a community organisation you are both part of. He leads one of bible study groups that meets at the church during the week. He has recently lost his job and you’ve noticed that he has become quite withdrawn.

You see Mitchell’s wife one day at the shopping centre. During the conversation you mention that you are sorry that Mitchell lost his job. Amy says to you that you shouldn’t feel sorry, that he is an awful man and that she is considering leaving him. She says that she is surprised that the church lets him lead a bible study group. 

What is your response?

Miriam is a keen church goer and has a passion for serving others. She has volunteered to help with leading a small young people’s Bible Study group. Miriam is 20 years old and lives with her parents. She has been given a copy of the Breaking the Silence Policy and Code of Conduct and has completed Breaking the Silence training. Miriam organises to host the Bible Study group in the living room at her parent’s house – her parents will be in another part of the house.

As time goes on, Miriam’s parents find they have another commitment on the night that Miriam hosts the Bible Study. This is okay, though, Miriam believes, because she is a responsible Christian girl and wouldn’t let anything bad happen. Therefore, she doesn’t consider that she needs to tell anyone at church about the change of circumstances.

The group grows to about 10 youth, and Miriam keenly gets alongside each of the members. Sometimes a few stay a bit longer to pray and chat. Occasionally one of the youth, Matt, is late being picked up which leaves just Matt and Miriam alone in the house. Miriam thinks this is okay because Matt (who is 15) is quite mature, his family go to church too, and Matt professes Jesus as his Saviour. 

What elements of the Code of Conduct are relevant to this scenario?

Lucy is an 18 year old who attends youth group. She is a mature Christian girl with a stable Christian family all of whom attend the church that runs the youth group. Marco is 22 year old youth group leader. He doesn’t attend the church but goes to the local Baptist church. Marco asks Lucy out on a date.

Fynn is a 14 year old member of your church. He as attended church with his family for the last few years. He is part of a small group that you lead on Sunday mornings and occasionally comes to youth group. One Sunday, after the small group has finished, Fynn asks to speak to you outside. He says that he has noticed the Breaking the Silence poster in the foyer. He asks if you know anything about what would happen if someone reported abuse to the church.

What is your response?

Fynn then tells you that he knows someone whose uncle lives in the same house and gives the teenage boy living there the creeps. He’s worried the uncle is going to do something gross.

What is your response?

Fynn says that his friend has told him that the uncle keeps “accidentally” coming into the boys bedroom late at night or into the bathroom. 

What is your response?

You may find it helpful to read some suggested responses if you are unsure.