As you may have read recently, much concern has been displayed for the apparent lack of standards under which Exodus youth member ministries operate. Peterson Toscano has led the push to give Alan Chambers, president of Exodus, the opportunity to provide such guidelines and make certain they are enforced. This issue has caused much debate over how to best ensure the safety of these youth.
As reported here and here, Alan has to date been unwilling to respond to phone or email messages left by Toscano to indicate their progress as he had agreed to do. Today, however, Dr. Warren Throckmorton has received from Exodus their new youth guidelines with permission to publish them to his blog. Had they had made this simple gesture to Toscano earlier this month or even a few days ago, much concern could have been avoided.
We wanted to make this available promptly for those who have been deeply concerned about the matter. However, more analysis of the guidelines will be forthcoming. How do these compare to other large organizations who deal with youth, particularly in such a confined and captive way? And what part does the following point play in youth safety:
Release from liability: Member Ministries must obtain a release from liability, signed by the parents, prior to any ministry involvement with a youth.
Confidentiality Agreement: Each Member Ministry that ministers to youth must have a policy in place addressing the issues of confidentiality and parental rights. This confidentiality agreement must be signed by the youth and by a parent prior to the youth’s involvement in the Member Ministry.
We are, however, glad to see that criminal background checks and youth/adult segregation guidelines have been enacted, as Toscano originally requested. These are most certainly basic for such activities. According to the entry at Thockmorton’s blog:
At renewal of membership, a ministry must agree to any changes. February, 2007 will complete the renewal process for all current member ministries.
And there is still no word on why these are not yet published on the Exodus site. That they exist is a good thing, and we are sure Peterson is happy about the news. But it would be irresponsible if we did not mention that, particularly today, these should have been their first thought and not their last – and certainly not years later.
Perhaps Alan, in the future you and Exodus can display your concern for these kids in more basic ways. How about a firm commitment that you will not accept youth against their will, regardless of parental desire?
More to come.