A range of Christian denominations will be the focus of a new investigation by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
The Inquiry announced yesterday (2nd May) that they will commence an investigation into a range of Christian denominations across the spectrum. These will include non-conformist denominations such as Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostal, independent charismatic and House churches.
IICSA will also explore child protection practices in a variety of settings to include ‘Christian Sunday schools and places where children and young people gather in connection with their religious beliefs, including youth groups and camps’.
This investigation follows the current investigations that have been scrutinising both the Anglican and Catholic Churches.
Justin Humphreys, CEO at Thirtyone:eight said: “It is not a surprise that the Inquiry should turn its focus towards a broader representation of the Church. This is exactly what happened in Australia through the Royal Commission and it is something that I have been warning Church and denominational leaders in the UK about for some years.
“Whilst many churches and denominations have since worked hard to openly learn about their past failings to improve current and future child protection practice, many have not.”
The new investigation is one of 14 currently within the scope of the Independent Inquiry and will commence with a preliminary hearing in July this year and public hearings commencing in 2020.
Its objectives will be to explore levels of understanding, training provision, policies and procedures, safer recruitment, responses to allegations and disclosures, internal audit and review mechanisms, compliance with statutory guidance and external oversight.
In real terms, this thematic investigation will call upon denominational and religious leaders and others to make available to the Inquiry the details of their efforts and arrangements to protect children. It is likely also that some key figures will be called to give evidence to assist the inquiry in its deliberations. The full timetable for this investigation is not yet know, but the preliminary hearing takes place on 23rd July.
Justin Humphreys said: “This is a wakeup call. The Church is not beyond scrutiny and to continue thinking so is dangerous. We must engage with these investigations constructively for the good our children (past, present and future) and to assist in the creation of safer places.
“There will be opportunity for the wider Church to evidence where good practice exists, but there will also be occasions where it will be found wanting. Thirtyone:eight exists for this purpose; to support all those who chose to work together with us to create safer places.”