I recently asked Dorothy Haile, who at the time was the International Personnel Director for SIM, some questions about SIM’s policy regarding child abuse. I was specifically asking about cases of abuse that occurred at boarding schools in the past, where the victims are now adults themselves. SIM’s Child Safety Policy does not specify who will conduct an investigation.
Question: Can SIM, or another *partner* mission that they employ for the task, effectively carry out an investigation on its own people, without bias? Dorothy responded that “We all agree that it is very difficult to investigate within our own mission agencies without bias.”
She goes on to explain that SIM uses the Child Safety and Protection Network when outsiders are needed to help with an investigation. This organization, begun in 2006, is a network of mission agencies, faith based NGOs and international Christian schools collaborating to address the issues of child protection. A check of their website shows SIM is listed as an Affiliated Agency, meaning they have not completed and/or submitted any of the membership application forms but either have expressed interest in joining or have participated in the Network.
Perhaps SIM has used CS & PN for investigations in the past, but they have also conducted investigations using SIM employees and other MKs as investigators. I have seen this first hand. My concern is this. If the alleged perpetrator has been serving on the mission field for possibly 20 years, and his parents served for many years before him, that family is most likely acquainted and possibly friends with one or more of the investigators. If MKs are used as investigators and the alleged perpetrator is an MK himself, they could have gone to boarding school together. Just a perusal of the network of Facebook friends shows the connections and possible connections between all of these people.
Under these conditions, can SIM effectively carry out their own investigation without bias? My feeling is they cannot, and yet they will start out their investigation using these very people, and only when it falls through will they switch over to outside investigators. Do these outside investigators, who are probably also connected with a mission, have an interest in preventing any truth of past abuse from coming to light, from any mission? For example, one of the Associate Member Agencies of CS & PN is New Tribes Mission, who are in hot water right now themselves for not addressing serious child abuse that occurred in their schools. The thought that a mission that cannot properly police itself may end up as part of an investigative team for SIM doesn’t fill me with confidence. As long as SIM is using their own personnel or that of members of the mission community as investigators, I question the validity of their results.