BWA tells Baptists to take child abuse seriously

The Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) is urging its member organizations to protect children from sexual abuse.

Baptists should take "urgent action to implement measures to protect children from abuse, support their physical and emotional welfare, and respond to allegations of abuse," the BWA said in a resolution passed by its General Council in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Special care should be taken "to ensure the suitability of persons working with children in the context of Baptist churches." Efforts should be made to make official checks against registers of criminal convictions and to put in place proper disciplinary procedures where there has been substantiated abuse of children.

Baptists, the BWA said, should take action even in instances "where the complainant has not contacted police, the police have not pressed charges, the police do not consider there is enough evidence, or the prosecuting authority has dropped the case."

The BWA "urges all Baptist churches, conventions and unions to take seriously every case of alleged child sexual abuse, to ensure that proper rules and processes are in place to protect children from harm and to promptly respond to allegations."

It expresses "profound sorrow at the ways in which children have been betrayed, harmed and sexually or otherwise abused." The international umbrella organization for Baptists in 120 countries repents of any failure by Baptists anywhere "to protect and of the failure to care for those who have been abused." It regrets instances of "neglect to implement and enforce effective policies and processes to protect children from abuse and of the silence of many of our churches on these issues in the past."

Baptists, the BWA said, should abide by "biblical teaching on the nurture and care of children."  Attention should be given to "the spiritual and social development of children through the ministry of the local church, and the contributions that children make to the life and mission of the church."

The General Council convened during the BWA Annual Gathering that was held in Jamaica from July 1-6.

Baptist World Alliance®
© July 6, 2013