Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse Allegations

Brent, I know you're at a conference this week, and I'm heading to one myself. I'd be interested in hearing what topics you're speaking on, and what you have taken away from your conference that would be helpful for mission organizations to hear.

I'm heading to the Child Safety and Protection Network conference. I know that you know (because you were involved at the beginning) that CSPN helps mission organizations get training and learn good practices surrounding prevention of child abuse, including policies and personnel training. CSPN also helps train and make available investigators, so that organizations have people to call on when allegations of child abuse need investigating.

I will be speaking on two topics. First is "Lessons Learned from the Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal." In that, I'll be talking about pitfalls to avoid and principles that can be drawn from the events in the Catholic scandal. We all have heard at least some about that ongoing abuse scandal. Not everyone is aware that most of that abuse has been historic, arising from the decades before child sexual abuse was widely understood (mostly the 60s through the 80s). In fact, scholars believe that during that era abuse occurred in all organizations, including public institutions. In the late 1990s and then in 2002, the bishops evolved a standard of care and learned to implement policies, prevention, and training that makes the Catholic Church one of the safest organizations today for children. (Public institutions are probably the least safe today, according to government studies.)

My next topic is how sexual abuse litigation works, the general arc of the legal process, and how that can impact organizations. You might say litigation is the worst case scenario for the organization when child protection issues haven't been adequately addressed. I've been involved in that defense litigation for religious organizations, and it's difficult, sobering, and very expensive.

I also plan to learn much at the conference from other presenters, so we can touch back with our conference updates.

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