From the "Christian Chronicle" website:
Sexual misconduct demands action
June 22, 2005
If ever there were a topic on which leaders are tempted to keep their
heads in the sand, it is sexual misconduct or sexual abuse among church
We must change this culture immediately.
This culture change must begin today in every organization in which
Christians have a stake congregations, ministries, Christian camps,
schools and universities. We must move to protect honest teachers,
volunteers, paid staff and participants.
Timely and appropriate disclosure is crucial. To wait, to waffle, to try
to avoid the inevitable could allow the abuse to spread to other
victims. Waiting will lead to greater erosion of confidence, widened
crises and deepen damage when the truth inevitably surfaces.
Christians' commitment to truth demands nothing less than immediate
It grieves all Christians to see a good work damaged by charges of
sexual misconduct. We should use our feelings of alarm and frustration
to spur ourselves to action.
Do not wait for grand juries. Do not wait for rumors to grow. Gather
your best advisors - a public school principal, a professional counselor
and an attorney, for example.
These professionals are available to most churches. At work, they deal
with the safety of children. They understand this type of policy. Work
with them to create a sexual-misconduct policy. Ask to see the policy of
the organizations you care about.
After you have created the policy, have the courage to communicate it
clearly and completely to everyone in your organization. Make sure each
staff member and volunteer knows that the policy is taken seriously at
the highest levels. Make sure each worker understands how to respond to
any suspicious behavior or other impropriety. Make sure a proper
investigation occurs quickly to clear the innocent.
Teach every member of the organization to trust their instincts and make
reports immediately. In many such cases, people close to the situation
later say, "We'd suspected it for years." In such cases, we are
complicit in the misconduct.
Once you have established a policy and communicated it to all, follow it
to the letter when reports are made. Do not wait one hour beyond the
first report of misconduct. Do not wait until a reporter calls.
Christians must stand for honesty in all things, purity in matters
sexual, and prudence in safeguarding our communities and our witness to
All this is at stake when we fail to act.
Once we have set a policy for addressing sexual misconduct, we must
carefully consider how to respond to acts of misconduct or abuse from
Believe, support and pray for the victims of sexual abuse whether they
are children, rape victims or other victims of sexual crimes or sins.
Remember, acts of sexual misconduct are sinful whether or not they also
Rapidly consult professionals to address the shame, guilt, anger and
other long-term mental, sexual and spiritual consequences of abuse.
Rapidly triage the families of victims and perpetrators alike. Do not
waste energy criticizing others.
Too often, in the rush to safeguard a ministry finances from a backlash
following sexual misconduct, victims are overlooked, abuse is prolonged
and damage is spread.
In the post-clergy-scandal environment, honest and accurate reports are
more important than ever. The world is watching.
In May 2002, Scott LaMascus responded to the growing clergy sexual abuse
scandal in the Catholic church in an Inside Story column reminding us to
be vigilant about sexual misconduct.
"This is no time for timidity. Elders can act now to find help to ensure
that children are safe," he wrote.
A list of resources is available on this Web site. We cannot assure
results, but we encourage churches to use these resources to begin
Use them to protect your organization.
Use them to protect your children.
Use them to protect the church and its witness.
This month's news reminds us of the high costs of inaction.