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 7: what is the commitment to protective environment?

It is another day, another divine and golden opportunity to do battle against the seemingly insurmountable arsenals of ignorance. I think it is a worthy battle, aimed by creating a world fit for children. It is my persuasion that until our world is fit for our children, we have no world and we have no future.

With an overdose of excitement (if there is anything so called), I am here to do the bidding of the One, who prepared me this body, soul and spirit for the purpose of giving expression to this noble battle.

Today, I am discussing the 7th question, you must ask before you send your child to the children’s department of your religious place of worship: what is the commitment of the religious place of worship to protective environment. Please note that this is a very critical question. Permit me to declare with every sense of responsibility in me that the number one responsibility of a primary and secondary caregiver is to protect the child. Protecting the child will never be a function of mere declaration of wish and intention. It will never also be located within the confines of high-sounding and confusing philosophy. Protective environment, where it is established is real and measurable and its dividends are very clear.

One of the first steps we must take if we must protect children under our care is to create a protective environment. A protective environment is an environment where abuse is completely impossible. It is an environment where formidable and impenetrable measures have been put in place to secure the protection of the child. It is an environment, which is not only safe, but children feel safe there. Please note that no matter how safe you think that your environment is, it is not safe until the children feel safe in it. Once children do not feel safe, you environment is not safe because once children do not feel safe, they come under siege mentality and once they are under siege mentality no meaningful activity beneficial to the children can ever go on.

One of the major reasons why children are abused is that the primary and secondary caregivers are not aware of, do not understand and do not practice the principles of protective environment. Crime as abuse does not happen except there is what is called security breach. It is the number one strategy of the criminals and abusers to find the loopholes in the security machinery of their target and device a strategy to beat them. Until they are able to successfully do this a crime cannot take place and if they don’t ever achieve this, it means the crime will never take place.

Please note that the study of criminology and victimologyreveals that there are three (3) main reasons why crime takes place and I think it also applies to child abuse: the first is an intention to commit crime; the second is the nature of reward; the third and the most important is the opportunity of easy entry and exits. Please note that a person, who is an habitual criminal with an intention to commit a crime which promises juicy rewards, may never give expression to his intention if there is no opportunity of easy entry and exist, except he/she comes defiant. Please note that defiance is in the character of only few criminals. Most criminals want to live to enjoy the fruits of their crimes as most abusers. ‘Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it,’ so says English historian and author, Henry Thomas Buckle and I think I agree with him.

As I have always said, when a child is abused there are three culprits, the primary and secondary caregivers, who fail to create a protective environment, the abuser, who capitalizes on the negligence and ignorance of the primary and secondary caregivers to abuse the child and lastly, a person, who is aware that a child is being abused and he/she keep quiet.

There are three major components of a protective environment. The first is strengthened family; the second is values and norms and the third is legislation. Please note that an informed family is a strengthened family and will ask all the questions we are discussing here and more before they release their children to the custody of any secondary caregiver. An informed family will not trust blindly without proof. Values and norms touches on employing values to create standards of child protection.

One of the standards of child protection is what is called ‘the two-adult rule.’ ‘The two-adult rule’ provides that there must always be at least two non-related adults present when working with one or more children. The goal is to protect the child and the caregivers. It is being found that abusers give up in most cases, if another adult is always in their face. ‘The two adult rule’ also protects caregivers from wrong accusation. Protective environment covers safety issues in the place where children are gathered.

Legislation provides for the steps that primary and secondary caregivers must take to protect the child and failure to do so will be considered as negligence.

Permit me to round up by saying that it does not matter how long a children department of the religious place of worship has been in existence, if there is no deliberate efforts to create a protective environment, they endanger the lives of the children and they are a breeding ground for abuse, which will soon happen where a demand is placed on the tenets of protective environment. An organisation, which was in existence for thirty (30) years, was sent packing from a community because one of their recently engaged volunteers sexually abused a child. The community did not remember any of their great and good work because of this singular but damaging occurrence. The children department of a religious place of worship recently found that one of their long-standing volunteers of over ten (10) years was a child sexual abuser. If we will learn from history we will understand the point I am trying to make that how long the children department of your religious place of worship has been in existence and how long volunteers have been with you is never a guarantee of protection of children from abuse. The only guarantee is to put formidable and globally compliant measures in place to protect the child in a protective environment.

I think I should sign out here. I promise to be with you on Monday. Thank you for visiting. Do have an INSPIRED weekend. I charge you to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…

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