Malawi’s Diocesan Child Protection Coordinators (DCPC) and Catholic Secretariat Child Protection Focal Persons have been challenged to take a leading role in ensuring that children within and outside the Church are well protected.
ECM Secretary General Fr. Henry Saindi made the call when he opened a two-days induction training course on Child Protection at the Catholic Secretariat in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Fr. Saindi said the training was aimed at empowering coordinators and Child Protection Focal Persons to advocate for the safe environment of children in schools, churches and small Christian communities.
He said this could be done by responding effectively and efficiently to concerns and issues regarding child abuse allegations and work towards dealing away with the vice.
“Considering the increase of reported child abuse cases in Malawi, the Catholic Church has deemed it necessary to guide Church institutions to become sensitive to child protection issues in the fulfilment of its evangelization mission of love and justice,” said Fr. Saindi.
He added, “The general attitude has been that of denial in our Churches as we say child abuse only happens outside the Church and in far (away) places while these cases are real and rampant even in the local Church."
One of the coordinators, Fr. Isaac Tsegula of Zomba Diocese said the training was necessary for his diocese and the Church at large to mobilise people against the vice.
“The training has to a large scale contributed to a mindset change of understanding who a child is, the need to safeguard and prioritise their welfare when executing our duties,” said Fr. Tsegula.
The responsibilities of the DCPC include understanding child protection issues and abuse; codes of conduct; identifying signs of abuse; pastoral care and offender supervision programmes to manage risks.
ECM launched its Child Protection Policy in January 2014. The Policy calls upon Commissions and all Catholic Church institutions to ensure that their activities are sensitive to Child Care, Justice and protection.
(Stella Zulu in Lilongwe)