International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood shared an update on abuse-related policies with trustees during their Sept. 29–30 meeting near Richmond, Virginia.
“Over the past two years, we have methodically implemented every recommendation, diligently moving toward the highest standards in abuse prevention and response, including providing compassionate, trauma-informed care,” Chitwood said, referring to the recommendations made by the firm reviewing the IMB in this area.
In 2018–2019, IMB underwent an examination concerning the organization’s handling of past matters and current policies and practices related to the prevention of and response to allegations of child abuse and sexual harassment (including sexual assault).
Also, the IMB has reported every known incident of alleged child abuse by its personnel or others affiliated with the organization that had not previously been reported, Chitwood noted.
And the IMB has adopted protocols for consistently reporting allegations of child abuse committed by its personnel or others affiliated with IMB to U.S. government authorities as well as adopted protocols for reporting allegations of child abuse to foreign government authorities.
IMB created and filled a full-time, senior-level “prevention and response administrator” position to oversee IMB’s prevention and response efforts in relation to child abuse and sexual harassment.
“IMB remains absolutely committed to the ongoing nature of this task as a part of our work both now and in the future,” Chitwood said.
“We will do what is necessary to better prevent instances of child abuse and sexual harassment (including sexual assault), and to better care for victims while holding perpetrators accountable.
“We can do better than we have done. We must do better. We will do better.”
Chitwood emphasized that IMB encourages anyone who has been a victim of abuse by IMB personnel to report it to authorities.
In addition, IMB invites any victims of abuse by IMB personnel to contact a confidential hotline at 855-420-0003 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org so IMB can provide compassionate care to that victim and take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of others.
Also, IMB provides accurate employment references on every former employee, leaders explained.
To help make informed hiring decisions, IMB leaders strongly encourage any church, entity or other employer who is considering working or partnering with former IMB personnel to contact email@example.com to inquire about a reference on that individual.
“Based upon our experience here at the IMB, I also want to encourage every Southern Baptist entity and every Southern Baptist church to be intentional and proactive in reporting abuse, creating policies and procedures to help safeguard against abuse, and to ensure compassionate care for victims of abuse,” Chitwood said.
“It is difficult, but we are incredibly thankful that we have done it.
“As the SBC Executive Committee is currently dealing with this issue, I have encouraged them and continue to encourage them to move forward quickly and decisively with the external investigation,” he said.
“In that, they will ensure transparency, regain any lost trust, provide respect and care for victims, and preserve the cooperative missions work of Southern Baptists.”