So You Want to Send Your Child to the Children Department of Your Place of Worship? Ask these Ten (10) Child Protection Focused Question: Question 1: Is there is a Child Protection System?

Welcome to this page today. I am glad to be here in the spirit of enlightenment to do a meaningful advocacy for empowerment. As I introduced yesterday, I am here to share with you in the next few days to come the ten child protection-focused questions we all must ask to be sure that our religious places of worship are safe for our children. Permit me to proceed right away without further preambles:

Is there a Child Protection System in place? This is the father of all child protection-focused questions. It is the foundation of all the other questions we must ask and expect answers. Commitment to child protection does not begin with good intention and statement of commitment. While good intention and statement of commitment are critical, they are not enough. Whatever commitment we have as primary and secondary caregivers remains nothing but a conspicuous decoration in the dusty dictionary of wishful thinking, if it is not backed up by a system. I think the question, I should address at this time is, what is a Child Protection System? Though, I attempted yesterday to shed some light on what is meant by Child Protection System in my introduction, permit me to fully do justice to it at this very time.

Permit me to begin this exercise of defining Child Protection System with defining Child Protection. To my professional and experiential mind, Child protection refers to, EVERY step DELIBERATELY and CONSISTENTLY taken by the FAMILY, COMMUNITY, STATE and INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, BASED on KNOWLEDGE, SKILL, GOOD CONSCIENCE, PROMPTNESS, INNER STRENGTH and an UNALLOYED COMMITMENT to the PRESENT and the FUTURE of the CHILD to PROTECT through a FORTIFIED SYSTEM of PREVENTION and EARLY INTERVENTION aimed at PROTECTING the child from ALL FORMS OF ABUSE, NEGLECT, EXPLOITATION, VIOLENCE AND EVERYTHING THAT IS CONTRARY TO THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD, WHETHER THEY APPEAR AS ABUSE OR NOT.

It is my humble and irresistible conclusion that it is not protection if abuse is not prevented and early intervention is not guaranteed.

As this point, I will take it that I have your liberty to dive into the deeper waters of Child Protection System, having shed light on Child Protection. Here is my copious thinking about Child Protection Systems; It is my firm belief that for child protection to be effective, it must move from being a concept or subject to become a culture.

Culture, here simply refers to values, which a people hold very dear. Culture is so powerful that it does not only develop a life of its own, it becomes the second nature of the people. Though, it derives its life from the people, the people also derive their lives, personal and communal meaning and peace from it when it comes of age.

The culture of child protection is established through the instrumentality of a child protection system. It is important to note that Child Protection Systems work by a well-articulated Child Protection Policy, carefully designed according to the needs of the institution which seeks to use it to protect children.

Besides, Systems approach to Child Protection is the global thinking today when it comes to child protection. It is ensures that formidable structures are put in place to protection children. A Child Protection System has three (3) components: 1. Goals or Set of Goals; 3. Interdependence; 3. Balance.

Permit to declare that Child Protection Systems involves CAREFULLY Identifying or recognizing EVERY STAKEHOLDER, including THE CHILDREN, on child protection, ENLIGHTENING, EMPOWERING and ORGANIZING them towards CREATING AND STRENGTHENING PROTECTIVE ENVIRONMENT and PROVIDING SUITABLE and SUSTAINABLE SERVICES DELIVERY, (which emanates from rich and purposeful interaction with the stakeholders) towards CHILD PROTECTION and respect for the rights of children, as provided by LEGAL INSTRUMENTS, POLICIES, CUSTOMS and TRADITIONS, which set the formal and informal frameworks for the child protection, upholding THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD as the operating system.

Every child has five basic needs. One of these needs is that the child needs somewhere to belong, first a family and second a community. The family is referred to as the primary caregiver while the community is referred to as secondary caregivers. The religious places of worship are prominent parts of the community and therefore, they have a duty of care of protection under their care. The proof of their commitment to this all-important duty of care is to embrace Child Protection as a culture that must be entrenched through a system and evidenced by a Child Protection Policy.

The policy is the mouthpiece of the entire process and it is developed by experts. I have worked with organisations of different shades and colours to develop workable and working Child Protection System. My experience teaches me that no matter how divergent our views are at the commencement of the process, we always find common grounds to arrive at a pro-best-interest-of-the-child position. My experiences tell me that every individual or organisation has a commitment to protect children. The challenge is always how to do so, first by defining what exactly constitute abuses and how to professionally prevent same.

I think this leads us to the next question, which I will endeavour to ask tomorrow.

Thank you for joining me today. I await your responses. I charge to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…

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