News roundup: December 2020

31 December 2020, Thirtyone:eight

Here are our top safeguarding stories from December 2020. To access or view the full articles click on the link embedded in the title:

News headlines:

Church of England's safeguarding director resigns after 18 months 

Justin Humphreys, CEO at Thirtyone:eight spoke to Premier about the resignation of the Church of England's first permanent Director of Safeguarding, Melissa Caslake. 

Forming Safer Church Cultures 

In this blog, Scot McKnight outlines the six important elements of forming safer churches as found in the book Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse by Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys. 

Synod votes unanimously to accept IICSA recommendations 

The General Synod voted unanimously to accept all six recommendations made by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) to the Church of England in October. As in previous safeguarding debates, several speakers called for a fully independent safeguarding agency to oversee safeguarding in the C of E, arguing that this was the only way finally to address concerns about reputational damage and clerical deference. 

TikTok adds tougher parental controls 

TikTok will make it easier for parents to safeguard their children on its video-sharing app. New features include the ability to change the youngster's settings remotely to block them from carrying out searches, and to prevent strangers from seeing their posts. The action comes after BBC Panorama raised safety concerns and highlighted how predators have abused the platform's recommendation engine to target some of its youngest users. The social media video app is one of the most popular in the world with more than 800 million users. 

‘We will never know the true scale of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church’, inquiry reports 

An inquiry into the abuse of children by Catholic clergy and lay people in England and Wales has found the Church prioritised its reputation over the welfare of children and that Cardinal Vincent Nichols was reluctant to take responsibility. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse looked at various institutions and in November released its final findings into the Catholic Church of England and Wales, which is lead by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster. The report explains the Catholic Church’s response to child sexual abuse from the 1970s onwards, including safeguarding, engaging with complainants, redress and leadership. 

Church pastor exposed as a career con artist 

SPAC Nation claims it is helping disadvantaged young people – but former members say that its leaders encourage young congregants to take out loans and give huge sums to the church. A criminal investigation is currently underway into allegations of fraud and other offences relating to individuals associated with SPAC Nation, according to police. SPAC Nation denies that the church is financially exploiting young people. 

Gavin Williamson unlawfully removed child safeguards in pandemic, court rules 

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, acted unlawfully in removing safeguards for children in care at the start of the Covid pandemic without consulting children’s rights organisations, the court of appeal has ruled. The children’s rights charity Article 39 launched a legal challenge after the Department for Education removed or diluted 65 separate legal protections, designed to safeguard the 78,000 children in care in England, during lockdown last April. They included timescales for social worker visits to children in care, six-monthly reviews of children’s welfare, independent scrutiny of children’s homes, and oversight of adoption decision-making for babies and children. 

'I was unfaithful in my marriage': Carl Lentz explains why he was fired from Hillsong NYC  

Carl Lentz, 41, was the lead pastor at Hillsong New York City. Friends and congregants include Justin Bieber and his wife, Hailey Baldwin Bieber, as well as the Jenner sisters. Brian Houston, Hillsong’s founder, fired Lentz on November 4th and later that day Lentz confessed to marital infidelityHillsong has since launched an independent investigation into the “inner workings” of the church. Media outlets have reported allegations that Lentz may have had more than one affair, as well as claims about Lentz’s focus on celebrity ministry and the church’s emphasis on appearance.  


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