Independent Investigation into Historical Abuse at Kent Academy

Independent Investigation into Historical Abuse at Kent Academy

4 November 2022
Signatures: 771Next goal: 1,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by Jeanette Wall

Kent Academy was founded in 1945 by a former student, Paul Craig, from Gowans Home. He desired a school in Nigeria whereby children of missionaries would be closer to their families rather than left for years at a time back in Canada, as had been his own experience. For many years under his guidance, Kent Academy was a gentler place as a boarding school. But at some point, somehow, this changed. The school Paul Craig had envisioned became a place of loneliness, neglect, fear, and abuse over several decades.

While we do not dispute that many, in fact even the majority, of students did not encounter overly active abuse at Kent Academy, we acknowledge that some students were in fact subjected to child abuse. This historical abuse has affected numerous former students, negatively impacting their lives, causing much friction in families, and much hurt as their tales of abuse were ignored, minimized or worse, disbelieved by friends, family, and SIM.

Mr. Larry Fehl, the then Director of SIM USA, was challenged to investigate reports of abuse of MKs in 1998 as a means of reconciling MKs with their families and with SIM. A task force was formed and an official booklet regarding this effort was eventually published, Adult Missionary Kids: How Missions Can Facilitate the Process of Reconciliation – A Case Study, SIM USA AMK Advisory Committee, 2005. The booklet openly admits that “issues of serious abuse began to emerge in some cases” (p. 4). The booklet references “wounded MKs” and “dialogue with severely wounded MKs” (p. 5). Appendix 1 of the booklet contains Larry Feel’s “Open Letter of Apology to AMKs.” 

However, the topic of abuse of MKs at Kent Academy (and elsewhere) has continued to surface since the publishing of Adult Missionary Kids in 2005. This is evidenced in Simroots, a volunteer-run newsletter published several time yearly from 1979 to 2022. Additionally, MKs have shared about abuse at Kent Academy on social media sites and in private communications. The recent Hillcrest and Kent Academy 2022 reunion even held a panel at which abuse was discussed.

While the efforts of Larry Fehl and the AMK TF were well-intentioned, the task force was shut down in 2010, after having only been able to investigate instances relating to SIM USA MKs. No other SIM entity took up the offer to run their own version. As a group, MKs who were not personally involved have no knowledge of what was discussed, which schools or what years. 

Discussion of this subject about what truly happened at Kent Academy over the years is emotional and divisive. It has affected former students greatly, and driven wedges between family members. Yet, apart from the AMK TF, there has been no acknowledgment from SIM of what happened there. SIM International and SIM USA in particular encourage former students to come forward with their stories, and promise to treat such allegations on an individual case by case basis.

This is not acceptable. We as former students and staff request that the truth about what happened at Kent Academy is revealed. SIM International, SIM USA and SIM Nigeria need to proactively ascertain the truth of the abuse at Kent Academy; to act to determine the truth of alleged cases of abuse at Kent Academy and work in good faith toward justice and healing for the students who were harmed during their time at a SIM-run boarding school.

Putting the burden on those harmed to initiate contact with those in leadership does not take into consideration how the initial abuse and environment conditioned individuals to be ‘shut down’ and not have a voice with those in leadership. It was not safe, and there is no correction of the message that they will be heard, understood, fully validated or steps of correction made. This offer is likely coming from good intentions but does not show the mission being trauma informed.

In addition, SIM International and SIM USA need to communicate to any other mission groups, including ECWA, and any expats who sent children to Kent Academy in good faith that their children may have been at risk.

The Gospel message must extend to the ones that were under the mission’s care. Abusing others is worthy of death by God’s standard. The only way to continue as a ministry of God is to agree with God. God sent His Son as a substitute, but eternal life is only realized by those who accept His grace through agreement with God, repentance and restoration. The injured MKs are therefore validated in their anger against the sins committed, as well as their desire to seek confession of sin, repentance, and restoration/restitution from SIM.

We request the following:

1 -     That SIM acknowledges that great hurt and trauma occurred at Kent Academy, affecting numerous former students who have been negatively impacted in their lives as a result;
2 -     That SIM acknowledges that this happened at a school run by SIM, and staffed with SIM teachers and dorm staff, and therefore that the abuse suffered occurred as a failure of SIM to have sensible and workable safety checks in place;
3 -     That SIM publicly and sincerely offers an unreserved apology to all former students and families of students who went to Kent Academy;
4 -     That SIM appoints and funds an independent professional investigation, with full input from former Kent Academy students regarding its membership and processes, to uncover the truth, and that the results will be made public;
5 -     That SIM offers vindication to the wounded by recognizing officially that these former students have been telling the truth for all these years;
6 -     That SIM will offer concrete acts of restitution for the wounded;
7 -     That SIM will anticipate further revelations and have an approved process in place to deal helpfully with any revelations;
8 -     That SIM disclose what they understand to be systemic issues within the organization that created or fueled an environment in which abuse could happen and then continue without it being stopped and addressed. What has been learned and is being addressed so that the culture changes?

Should you have any questions or comments, please email

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Signatures: 771Next goal: 1,000
Support now