- Kyle Willis
Protecting Your Ministry from Child Abuse
Our prayer is that child abuse will be eradicated from the Church moving forward. Now is the time to enhance your protection of the next generation.
As we read the the numerous stories of sin and inappropriate actions that occur in churches today, we want to encourage you to enhance your planning and protection. Do not leave the reputation of your ministry to chance. Implement all possible precautions.
Are you acting with urgency to protect your most vulnerable? Do you have the ability to identify gaps and precent the possibility of abuse within your church?
As you read the detailed story about how this predator was able to abuse his power and influence, your stomach will be knotted up in the worst ways. The influence this perverted coach had, not over his victims, but the parents, administrators, and church officials, is absolutely sickening. The scope of unnamed victims became personal when the realization set in that I would’ve competed against some of his victims during the abusive years. The predator probably sat in the stands or was around the locker rooms when we played this rival Christian school.
On top of the mental and physical abuse of the victims, the ministry went from thousands to hundreds in a relatively quick manner. A thriving ministry, with a multimillion dollar campus, was eventually forced to close the decades old school, release their employees, and sell the facility. The mismanagement, and lack of reporting their suspicions, tore apart the faith community and devastated dozens of lives. Unfortunately, this story was not an original in 2002 and has been duplicated countless times since.
The Christian leaders failed their congregation and school family in the following actions:
Understanding of the reporting laws – Each state has different reporting processes for suspected child abuse that can extend to any individual, regardless of position or affiliation with the organization. In this case, it was a concerned parent who finally gathered the courage to notify the authorities.
Training on a documented, reporting process – While some of the school’s leadership had training in preventing child abuse, it is clear that there was a lack of a written plan, with routine training of all staff. Unfortunately, while the administrators tried to handle the matter internally, more than a dozen victims were assaulted.
Trusting the “Golden Boy” – It is true that some crimes within the Christian community occur from outside the organization, it is too common to hear, “I would’ve never suspected him/her. He/She was one of the most trusted people I knew." Those who see your ministry as a target to advance their malfeasance, often leverage a charismatic personality to gain trust and influence.
(Lack of) checking the process – Although several years after the initial complaints, the school’s administration instituted some nonnegotiable actions for the coach, such as never being alone with students. Unfortunately, it was later learned that all of the agreed upon guidelines were eventually broken, without adequate follow-up from administration. A lack of follow up allowed the abuse to continue and grow for years without intervention.
Sadness, anger, frustration, and disappointment will all boil while reading the in-depth accounts of the systematic and heinous abuse. If your organization finds itself with questions on how it can be more proactive, we are here to help. If you are in a reactive situation, we recommend you contact your local authorities, your organization’s legal team, and an organization of experts similar to Ministry Safe.