Caring For Kids

In the last two weeks we have had the opportunity to raise the level of international awareness of the issue of child sexual abuse.
Here in Australia, World Vision has had some sobering experience.
In 1984 and again in 1992 previously convicted child sex offenders visited their sponsored children.
After the 1984 incident World Vision strengthened field procedures to protect children in our care.
These worked. But in 1992 the offender used his status as a child sponsor to commend himself to a community in Kenya. He procured a fourteen year old boy and brought him to Australia pretending to have an interest in the child’s education.
Instead he brought him to a coven of paedophiles. And abused him.
Tipped off, the police arrested the offender and rescued the boy.
We decided it was not enough just to protect children in our care from abuse. We want to actively frustrate and impede such perverts from having access to any children.
Experts came and educated us. New procedures were implemented. We became active as advocates on the issue of child sex exploitation (including the support of ECPAT).
About three weeks ago, we had a new opportunity to raise the level of awareness of these issues within the wider World Vision partnership.
Thus, Glenda and I attended a meeting at the international office at the end of November at which a plan of action for World Vision International’s response to child sex exploitation was drafted.
Last weekend the senior leadership of World Vision again put the issue centrally on our agenda.
More work is to be done. New procedures for education and implementation will be drawn up over the next weeks.

Consider The Victims.

I have become aware that the problem of child sex abuse is widespread and profound. It goes wide and deep.
Around one woman in five reports some form of sexual abuse against them as a child. For men, the numbers are about one in twelve.
Unwarranted sexual attention is profoundly disturbing to the sexual and personality development of children.
Many people, including many within World Vision Australia, still carry the scars of this abuse. They will always.
When we raise the subject, such memories can be very unpleasant and unwelcome.
I apologise for that. Let us continue to be vigilant in this matter. But let us be sensitive and compassionate with one another. Some of us carry heavy loads.

Don’t Ask The Boss.

In the organisation I dream of, people don’t ask their bosses for permission.
And people don’t tell other people that they can do something “because the boss said so.”
In real life, of course, people don’t say they have the boss’s permission. They just say something subtle like “I talked to Philip about this.” You are meant to think ‘And if you think differently you will be disagreeing with Philip and your job will not be worth a cent!’
Of course, the proper answer to such statements is “Did you consult everyone you needed to, as well as Philip?”
The responsibility of all decision makers is to make sure they have all the information they need to make the decision.
How do they get this information?
By asking people for it.
Some will need to ask their bosses. Not because boss’s give permission (at least not in a Judith organisation), but because they have information to give.
As chief executive I have a point of view, a perspective about the organisation that is useful to many decisions.
Frankly, I don’t get asked enough for this point of view.
But bosses are not the only, nor the most important, people with perspectives about decisions.
For example, when it comes to the design of a reply coupon, my perspective is less useful than a team member in donor services, or the dtp expert at her computer.
What do you do when someone tries the play a power game with you?
What do you do when someone says “you better do this, because a boss has approved it”?
Be bold. But don’t be rude or confronting.
Ask this question: Do you have all the relevant information?
If you think they do not, say so. Probably you are asking this question because you have some information you think they should have considered!
Point this out.
Remember, if anyone, a boss or not, makes a decision without considering all the relevant information, they have not been fully responsible.
Responsible decision makers need to be held accountable for their decisions. And for ensuring that there was adequate consultation.
Passing the buck up to a boss is weak management.
And if someone tries the “Philip approved it” line on you, take it from me that I probably didn’t.

Christmas Is For The Poor.

To whom did God announce Jesus’ birth? The poor and marginalised. Almost exclusively.
Mary . . . wife of a carpenter from Galilee ... a simple woman from the bush.
Joseph . . . a man with no special insights about what was happening.
Shepherds . . .  by no means special people. They were at the bottom of the social scale, and then some.
Simeon & Anna . . . their only claim to fame was their faithfulness in church attendance.
Wise Men . . . not kings as our hymns tell us, but astrologers.
The good news of Christmas has many important dimensions.
Not least is the message that God entering his world is a message first for the poor and marginalised.
Merry Christmas.