Should SIM conduct their own investigations of past abuse?

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.

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3 thoughts on “Should SIM conduct their own investigations of past abuse?

  1. No an organization can not investigate their own people. They will protect the organization at any cost including children being abused. The mission my parents were with was the Gospel Missionary Union, now Avant. I wrote them a few months ago asking them to take responsibility for what happened to us at Mamou. The response I got was the usual it happened a long time ago and has been taken care of. They never even contacted me to find out if I had been abused at Mamou. If you don’t scream loud and long they won’t pay any attention to you.

  2. Habakkuk 2

    I will stand on my guard post
    And station myself on the rampart;
    And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,
    And how I may reply when I am reproved.
    Then the LORD answered me and said,
    “Record the vision
    And inscribe it on tablets,
    That the one who reads it may run.
    “For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
    It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail
    Though it tarries, wait for it;
    For it will certainly come, it will not delay.
    “Behold, as for the proud one,
    His soul is not right within him;
    But the righteous will live by his faith.
    “Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man,
    So that he does not stay at home
    He enlarges his appetite like Sheol,
    And he is like death, never satisfied.
    He also gathers to himself all nations
    And collects to himself all peoples.
    “Will not all of these take up a taunt-song against him,
    Even mockery and insinuations against him
    And say, ‘Woe to him who increases what is not his–
    For how long–
    And makes himself rich with loans?’
    “Will not your creditors rise up suddenly,
    And those who collect from you awaken?
    Indeed, you will become plunder for them.
    “Because you have looted many nations,
    All the remainder of the peoples will loot you–
    Because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land,
    To the town and all its inhabitants.
    “Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house
    To put his nest on high,
    To be delivered from the hand of calamity!
    “You have devised a shameful thing for your house
    By cutting off many peoples;
    So you are sinning against yourself.
    “Surely the stone will cry out from the wall,
    And the rafter will answer it from the framework.
    “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed
    And founds a town with violence!
    “Is it not indeed from the LORD of hosts
    That peoples toil for fire,
    And nations grow weary for nothing?
    “For the earth will be filled
    With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
    As the waters cover the sea.
    “Woe to you who make your neighbors drink,
    Who mix in your venom even to make them drunk
    So as to look on their nakedness!
    “You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor.
    Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness
    The cup in the LORD’S right hand will come around to you,
    And utter disgrace will come upon your glory.
    “For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you,
    And the devastation of its beasts by which you terrified them,
    Because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land,
    To the town and all its inhabitants.
    “What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it,
    Or an image, a teacher of falsehood?
    For its maker trusts in his own handiwork
    When he fashions speechless idols.
    “Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’
    To a mute stone, ‘Arise!’
    And that is your teacher?
    Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
    And there is no breath at all inside it.
    “But the LORD is in His holy temple
    Let all the earth be silent before Him.”

  3. A non-biased investigation cannot happen internally. To have SIM personal conducting it’s own, or even involved in some way, investigation is a conflict of interests. It would pay lip service only, while denying the victim a pathway to journey toward freedom. Jesus said in John 8 that “you will know the Truth…and the Truth will set you free.” He never said that revealing the truth is necessarily easy; the fact remains, however, that speaking truth is right and righteous. For any mission agency not to employ any avenue to reveal truth makes it partner to criminal activity against children. Jesus was pretty clear about that as well: “Anyone who offends one of these little ones who believe in me, it is better for him to have a millstone tied about his neck and to be cast into the depths of the sea.” Mt. 18:6 I believe the message is pretty straightforward; I believe Jesus is referencing the wide open faith of a child that can be turned by abuse or indifference. He calls us all to responsibility for the children of this world while giving voice to His passionate love for them. Not to pursue Truth within our hearts and home and places of employment puts us on dangerous ground as well as renders us lame in the pursuit of ministry.

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