Yearly News Round Up

08 January 2019, Matt Cooper, Thirtyone:eight

2018 was a busy year for safeguarding. As 2019 gets underway, we look back at some of the major safeguarding news headlines that stood out and shaped policies and debates.

In January the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse began its hearings for the year, starting with an inquiry into the Internet and Child Sexual Abuse. Some of us from Thirtyone:eight attended IICSA’s hearings about the Anglican Church in March. Throughout 2018 IICSA conducted hearings into many different areas and heard a range of evidence, including statements from Justin Welby and Prince Charles.

In February The Times newspaper published a front page article under the headline: "Top Oxfam staff paid Haiti survivors for sex". The article alleged that Oxfam covered up claims that senior staff working in Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake used prostitutes, some of whom may have been underage.

In March a group of former pastors and staff members accused Bill Hybels of a pattern of sexual harassment and misconduct. Hybels resigned in April. Co-Pastors Steve Carter and Heather Larson, along with the Willow Creek Elders, resigned in August.

Social media companies found themselves under pressure in April, when Jeremy Hunt threatened them with new child-protection laws.

In Australia in May the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, the Most Revd Philip Wilson, was found guilty of concealing child sexual abuse when he was a newly ordained priest in the Hunter region of New South Wales, in 1976.

June brought reports that migrant children had been separated from their parents as part of President Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy.

July saw the General Synod's safeguarding debate take place. The Synod also backed plans for an independent body with powers at national or diocese level. Synod members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion to “take note” of a report from the House of Bishops committing the Church to improving its safeguarding practices.

Also in July, Cliff Richard won £210,000 in damages over his BBC privacy case. The singer sued the BBC for invasion of privacy over its coverage of child sexual abuse claims.

In August new estimates found at least 420,000 children in England live in households with the "toxic trio" of domestic abuse, parental substance misuse and mental illness present.

US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was in the headlines during September, after Christine Blasey Ford accused him of assault during high school. After televised and hotly-debated Congressional hearings, Kavanaugh was later confirmed to the Court.

In October Sir Philip Green was named in Parliament as the businessman at the centre of Britain’s #MeToo scandal. The Topshop owner was identified by Lord Hain after two days of speculation over the name of the man behind an injunction.

Hillsong issued a statement in November, refuting claims made in an Australian current affairs show about the church and founder Brian Houston over his handling of sex abuse committed by his father while he was an Assemblies of God minister.

November also saw the full extent of the Church of England's involvement in social action revealed. The largest study of its kind discovered more than 33,000 social action projects are run or supported by Church of England churches.

In December the man known as 'Nick', whose accusations sparked the VIP paedophile investigation and who has been charged with perverting the course of justice, was named after a legal restriction was lifted.

Looking ahead to 2019, we are sure there will be many headlines in the news that are related to safeguarding. During the year we will continue to work alongside organisations, faith, community and government groups, making sure they are equipped and empowered to protect vulnerable people. We know there are thousands of heroes who never make the headlines but who work and volunteer on the frontlines, striving to create safer environments for children and adults at risk.


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