Campaign to End Child Abuse
ADVENTIST CHURCH’S WORLDWIDE CAMPAIGN TO END CHILD ABUSE
The Seven Campaign to end child abuse is an initiative of several Departments and Institutions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the United States. These include the denomination’s Risk Management Services, La Sierra University, and the Women’s, Children’s, Youth, and Family Ministries Departments of the Church.
Launched in August 2012, the initiative aims to create awareness, solutions, and advocacy about child abuse in all 200 countries that the Church and its 17 million members operate within.
“Child abuse has been documented as an issue within the Seventh-day Adventist Church which follows trends documented in non-Adventist populations”, the launch in Nashville TN was told.
“Every single child is precious”, stated Larry Blackmer, the North American Division Vice President for Education.
In Australia and New Zealand, Safe Place Services welcomes The Seven Campaign to bring awareness to child abuse within the Church and providing means for people to take tangible steps like signing the online promise to end child abuse.
The promise includes the following ideas:
1.Tell 7 people how to stop abuse now, by sharing resources
2.Speak out against abuse – don’t remain indifferent
3.Advocate for change with my voice and vote
4.Mobilize my peers
5.Lead by example
6.Express my support creatively through the virtual Gallery
7.Share the 7 campaign with 7 people
Safe Place Services also recommends that congregations across Australia and New Zealand:
1.Adopt the latest version of the template local church Child Safe policy from the SPS website
2.Utilise the forms to assist introduce and comply with the Child Safe policy
3.Print off the posters to promote awareness of the Child Safe policy and protocols
4.Distribute the brochures to increase understanding of key aspects of the Child Safe policy and practice
5.Screen volunteers who work with children and young people carefully according to legal and church requirements
6.Look for opportunities to support families facing stress, hardship and difficulties rather than adopting a judgmental outlook
7.Speak out by reporting suspected and disclosed child abuse to Government authorities and leaders in the Church organization such as the local Conference Safe Place Coordinator / Committee
8.Support the Police as the right and appropriate route to investigate crimes against children and young people, and discourage a false and superficial ‘forgiveness’ of the offender
9.Hold the line fairly but firmly when introducing Safety Agreements with convicted offenders
10.Place the rights of victim(s) and victors of abuse to attend the congregation of their choice in peace above that of an offender who, despite any past roles or status they may have enjoyed, should attend elsewhere if their presence causes unease and further harm towards victims and victors
Dallas O'Connor, social worker from Safe Place Services, states that "Taking action against child abuse is more than just speaking out when it occurs, or voicing abhorance for the abuse of children. It includes recognising the potential for the abuse of children in a variety of forms to occur within families and institutions across all sectors of society, including at Church where people can put on a 'mask' and pretent all is fine when it isn't."
He continues, "Reducing child abuse within the Church involves making sure that churches have adequate checks and balances to ensure that safe people run safe programs in a responsible, accountable manner. It also requires churches to become places that offer encouragement to families and parents who are struggling rather than isolating them or being judgemental. This way churches can help prevent harm to children from occuring in the first place or help reduce its harm by intervening with support and referrals before situations become more serious. This often takes courage, but that's what the gospel is all about and comples us to do."
For more details on The Seven Campaign visit www.thesevencampaign.com
News Article by Safe Place Services (SPS), December 2012. Visit SPS at www.safeplaceservices.org.au