News roundup: July/August 2019

01 September 2019, Thirtyone:eight

Here are our top safeguarding stories from July/August 2019.  To access or view the full articles click on the link embedded in the title:

>> Christian charity named as core participant in government Inquiry into child protection in religious organisations

Thirtyone:eight has been announced as a core participant in the new investigation by the governments Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) into child protection in religious organisations and settings. The new investigation will review the current child protection policies and procedures in religious institutions that have a significant presence in England and Wales. This will include non-conformist Christian denominations, Jehovah’s Witnesses and those within the Islamic, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist faiths.

>> Chichester publishes in-depth study of abuse in its diocese

Victims of sexual abuse by clergy in the Diocese of Chichester have welcomed a "powerful report" that exposes the "devious" methods used by offenders. The diocese also published a third report, Sexual Abuse by Clergymen in the Diocese of Chichester: ‘You Can’t Say No to God’. The authors warn the diocese “not to be tempted to approach the future by adopting the mantra ‘That was then; this is now’.

>> The morning after the "final willow meeting"

The new Willow Creek elders held a Reconciliation and Reflection Service on July 23rd to put the last chapter of the church’s history behind them. Nancy Beach, a former teaching pastor at Willow Creek, gave her view of the meeting: "Truth and Transparency must come before Reconciliation. The church continues to refuse to tell the truth, to name what has happened, to call out sin. The meeting last night would have been wonderful if it had been a future step, after we acknowledge the mess and clean it up."

>> Call for evidence launched as part of inquiry into 'positions of trust'

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Safeguarding in Faith Settings has issued a call for evidence as part of its second inquiry into whether there should be a change in legislation relating to 'positions of trust' within faith settings.  The inquiry intends to publish a report detailing current knowledge on whether there is a need for changes to be made to 'positions of trust' within the Sexual Offences Act, 2003 to ensure young people are be better protected from harm.

>> A.I. not being developed fast enough to combat abuse

The head of the National Crime Agency (NCA) has challenged the social media giants to explain why they can develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) to target adverts at users but not create AI capable of protecting children from child abuse. In an interview with the Telegraph, Lynne Owens said the failure of the social media firms to prevent paedophiles targeting children on the open web was distracting the NCA and police from hunting down the “worst offenders” who were operating on the dark web.

>> A letter to the Protestant church about sex abuse: We are not safer

“Many Protestants have expressed righteous sadness at the sexual crimes in the faith traditions around us, namely the Catholic Church, while remaining indifferent to similar crimes within our congregations. We believe our churches are safer. We are wrong.” Susan Codone, senior associate dean of academic affairs at the Mercer University School of Medicine writes for the Washington Post. 

>> Independent inquiry to probe Church of England's handling of John Smyth allegations

An independent review is to be carried out into the Church of England's handling of allegations against the John Smyth QC and will take evidence from Archbishop Justin Welby and Titus TrustThe review will also consider the accounts of survivors of Smyth’s abuse, among others, to “identity both good practice and failings in the Church’s handling of the allegations, so lessons can be learnt”. 

>> Australian Archbishop says prison preferable to complying with child abuse confession law

Priests in Australia will risk prison if they do not report child abuse revealed to them during the sacrament of confession, under new laws introduced in the state of Victoria. “I don’t think in contemporary and mainstream times, knowing what we know now, that we can do anything other than say the rights of children trump anyone’s religious views,” the attorney general, Jill Hennessy, told reporters.