In December 2011, Dr. Stephen Jones, president of Bob Jones University, announced that the Board of Trustees approved the formation of a committee to review BJU’s sexual abuse policy and its application. Dr. Jones’ request stemmed from national media reports of the mishandling of sexual abuse.
At the time Dr. Jones commented that no God-ordained institution, organization or individual—not even Christian families, churches, Christian schools or Christian young people—is immune to sexual abuse and its effects. As a university committed to Christlikeness, we bear responsibility to support victims who are under our care, to handle instances of sexual abuse biblically and legally, and to train our faculty, staff and students to better understand this issue and to respond appropriately.
The executive committee of the Board formed the review committee and gave it the specific task of reviewing the University’s sexual abuse policy and application to ensure alignment with biblical mandates and full compliance with the law. The committee also was asked to determine if improvements are needed and, if so, to delineate them. The committee completed its work and submitted its report to the executive committee the week of April 29th. The Board received the committee’s report as well as the administration’s response and commitment to:
Enhance the Current Sexual Abuse Policy
BJU will rewrite and enhance its current sexual abuse policy and procedures dated Sept. 12, 2011, incorporating all committee suggestions including:
- Strengthening the statement of the University’s zero tolerance policy with regard to abuse
- Expanding the policy to address all forms of abuse
- Clarifying that the University will provide encouragement to someone over 18 in making a report to authorities
- Enhancing policies regarding investigation of incidents and maintaining confidentiality
- Including a statement in the student handbook encouraging victims to seek counsel
- Adding a form to facilitate reporting, including contact information for the authorities to whom a report of abuse must be made
BJU will complete the rewriting of the abuse policy for distribution to employees at the beginning of the 2012-2013 academic year in August 2012.
Communicate Publicly the University’s Philosophical Position on Abuse
The University will communicate to both the public and victims of abuse the following philosophy:
- All forms of abuse are abhorrent.
- Victims of abuse are not to be blamed for being the object of abuse.
- In cases of suspected abuse, the interests of the victim will be placed first.
- The University is committed to protecting the safety of the victim when a report is made.
Periodically Train Employees and Students
Bob Jones University will:
- Establish plans for periodic training of faculty and staff in identifying and reporting suspected cases of abuse
- Review curriculum in areas such as education, religion, ministerial training, nursing, criminal justice, etc., and ensure students are receiving proper training regarding the identification and handling of cases of abuse
- Take a proactive role by hosting a Bob Jones University Seminary-sponsored conference for pastors and church leaders addressing the proper biblical and legal response to instances of abuse. The conference is scheduled to take place in November 2012.
- Hire a full-time, mature counselor to work with students who have been abused
Appoint an Independent Ombudsman
Bob Jones University will appoint an independent ombudsman to review past instances in which it is alleged that the University under-served a victim or did not comply with the law. The ombudsman will have strong integrity and will be selected from the Christian community at large. The ombudsman will have no affiliation with BJU, such as a past employee or alumnus. The University’s purpose in appointing the ombudsman is to create an open climate of inquiry regarding the issue of abuse, to offer help to victims and to demonstrate that the University desires to act with appropriate biblical response and legal integrity in this area.
BJU is currently seeking an appropriate ombudsman. Once the ombudsman is identified, information on how to contact the ombudsman to communicate past issues will be posted on the University’s website.
Published May 25, 2012