Letter of Apology for Past Child Safety Issues
The CAJ community, including our nearly seven decades of alumni, is a unique tapestry of individuals, many of whom are having a profound and lasting positive impact on our world. We are proud of the legacy we have for education and equipping children to love and serve their communities as they go forth from this place. Over the past year, however, several alumni have begun to tell stories of childhoods where they were bullied by peers at CAJ and abused by adults a number of years ago. They have shared their concern for the lack of awareness and empathy from the adults in their lives at that time to protect them and care for their hurt.
The board of directors (who represent the founding or owning missions of CAJ) and I, as the current head of school, were not present at the time when many of these tragedies happened, but we are convicted that as a school, CAJ did not provide the nurturing and caring environment for children that we should have provided. 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. 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. I welcome you to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org
), or our child safety coordinator (email@example.com
). If you would feel more comfortable contacting someone outside CAJ, I invite you to send your communication to a representative from the Child Protection and Safety Network, an organization in which CAJ actively participates: firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to assure alumni that CAJ has taken very specific steps over the past decades, particularly in recent years, to reduce the risk of harm to children under our care, and to reduce the risk of misconduct toward children by CAJ staff. We strive to have a culture of visibility, accountability, and appropriate use and balance of power. We also carefully assess staff members before employment and provide ongoing training in the best practices of keeping our children safe. I'll be following up with more information about the changes in child safety at CAJ in the upcoming "CAJ Chronicle" due to be released early in the new year, but I am happy to answer any questions you might have in the meantime.
I am particularly grateful to the people who have courageously shared their story, either with me or with board members. Sharing their pain with us enabled us to better understand about the truth of the past for some of our members.
May God bring us together for the healing and restoration of wounded hearts, and remind us all of our responsibility to build a culture of vigilance that protects against harm to children.
Head of School
Chair, Board of Directors