Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Research - A chance to make a difference

One of the objectives of this site is to draw awareness and find a way to make changes to this problem attacking the church today. It is a much larger problem than many of us are aware of.
Diana Garland Ph.D. is the Dean of Baylor School of Social Work. Diana has recently been given a grant to further study this problem and find ways to implement changes and train churches in this matter. She needs help and also our prayers. Whenever you are attempting to better the church for the Kingdom, you are also going to be under attack spiritually and will need prayer warriors covering you.
I asked Diana if I could make a post here advertising her research and the need for help. In a brief summary, this is what she needs:
"The research focuses on persons victimized as adults—men and women. I am seeking survivors whose victimization ended in the past two years. I also am interested in congregational leaders who were affected by CSA in a congregation where they were serving. And I want to interview perpetrators. If you have contacts like that, I would welcome them. I am attaching the press release about the project, if you want to post it. Many thanks! Diana"

This is the full press release:
April 29, 2008

Clergy Sexual Abuse Research of Diana Garland Awarded $200,000 by Ford Foundation

When Anne Beiler lost her 18-month-old daughter in an accidental death, her trusted pastor encouraged her to come to him for counseling. Desperate and grieving, she did, only to have him involve her in a sexual relationship. *
“Their relationship was not an affair,” says Diana Garland, dean of the Baylor University School of Social Work. “He abused his power. She was a church member already in crisis who sought the care of her religious leader.”
Garland has received a $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to conduct the first national research on clergy sexual abuse. The project will develop a strategy for preventing clergy sexual abuse based on public education and the development of community and congregational strategies that will involve institutional policies and practices.
“Our faith communities have been dismayed to learn that trusted spiritual leaders have used their roles to abuse children and that others covered up the abuse and thus allowed it to continue,” said Garland, noted social scientist and author of the award-winning Family Ministry (InterVarsity Press, 1999), Sacred Stories of Ordinary Families (Jossey-Bass, 2003)and co-author of Flawed Families of the Bible (Brazos Press, 2007).
“This project intends to shed light on the problem of spiritual leaders who abuse their power with adults and how that abuse can be prevented. The goal is to strengthen congregations with protective policies and structures that take human vulnerabilities seriously,” she said.
The immediate goals of the project are to determine the prevalence of clergy sexual abuse of adults; to teach religious leaders, congregants and the general public that sexual activity between a religious leader and a congregant cannot be considered consensual; to communicate to survivors and their families that they are not alone and that they deserve support and professional care; to provide promising policy and prevention strategies; and to communicate that the church can respond to ethical violations with compassionate care for the vulnerable as its major focus instead of institutional self protection.
“Because of the spiritual power of the clergy role, this form of abuse has the potential for even greater devastation of victims and communities than abuse of power in employment or educational settings,” said Marie Fortune, Faith Trust Institute and an expert in the field of clergy sexual abuse. Clinical reports indicate high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, other anxiety disorders, depression, physical illness and suicide.
Questions for Garland’s study are included in the General Social Survey 2008, one of the most rigorous and respected surveys in existence. The GSS is conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago every two years. It is the only full-probability, personal-interview survey designed to monitor social characteristics and attitudes in the United States.
The total sample size of the GSS will be approximately 3,500 with a representative sample of English- and Spanish-speaking adults in the nation. Complete anonymity of respondents is guaranteed. Data from the survey will be delivered in January 2009. Research consultants for the project include Mark Chaves of Duke University and an advisory committee.
Garland will further interview members of at least 30 Christian and Jewish congregations directly affected by clergy sexual abuse and at least 12 individuals with first-hand knowledge of such abuse.
“We anticipate, based on case studies and anecdotal reports, that the opportunity to contribute to a study on this topic will be healing and empowering for survivors and their families and congregations,” Garland said.
“Every attempt will be made to give them opportunity to tell their story in ways in which they feel comfortable and that their courage in participating in this project is respected,” she said.
The Ford Foundation, chartered in 1936, is committed to strengthening democratic values, reducing poverty and injustice, promoting international cooperation and advancing human achievement. Annually, it receives some 40,000 proposals and awards 2,000 grants. The foundation has distributed more than $15 billion worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.fordfound.org/.
Garland previously had received $31,000 combined funding for this project from the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the JES Edwards Foundation of Fort Worth, Texas.

* Twist of faith: The story of Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008.

Contact: Diana Garland, Dean, Baylor School of Social Work

God bless you and your efforts, Diana!

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