Photo Credits: Leopardfish
The Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ), boarding school for the children of Christian missionaries, is investigating 66 cases of alleged past abuse of students at the school spanning decades. The school was founded in 1950 and allegations of child sex abuse span from the late 1950s to the 1990s, according to Religion News Service.
Those allegations include faculty physically and sexually abusing students mostly in the 1960s and 1970s, though a representative for a school alumni group said she is aware of cases as early as the late 1950s and as recent as the 1990s. The investigation comes after former students began connecting and sharing stories about their experiences at the school on social media amid the attention given to sexual abuse by #MeToo and similar movements.
CAJ posted a letter of apology emphasizing that the alleged cases are child safety issues from the past. The school’s statement, written by head of the school Anda Foxwell, further admitted that leadership “did not provide the nurturing and caring environment for children” that it should have supplied.
We recognize that in our past, staff members were not vetted or trained in a way they are carefully vetted and annually trained now; and some of them should not have worked with children. To alumni who underwent these experiences: we are truly sorry. We are committed to standing with these victims as they move forward.
Most of what I am describing happened a quarter to a half century ago, but I am sure that the wounds of trauma in childhood remain. Much of what we have heard thus far is secondhand and we would very much like to talk to any alumni who would like to tell their stories or who have suggestions about ways to move forward. We do not want a sense of shame or guilt crippling any former student’s life.
A written statement on the school’s website from Anda Foxwell, head of school, further says that “this is not the school CAJ is now. We renounce a culture of silence that suppressed the truth, which prohibited children from being heard in their suffering. We acknowledge that students were vulnerable to the way staff members used their power against them in ways that were hurtful and harmful, and we want to express our deep grief over learning about the pain some children endured.”
It is positive to see a religious organization apologize for sexual abuse cases but it is not enough. The school needs to hire an objective organization to do an investigation of what happened and prevent such cases happen in future.