BY: STELLA ZULU

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 setup are well protected hence child abuse cases are dealt with accordingly.

Episcopal Conference of Malawi’s (ECM), Secretary General Fr. Henry Saindi made the call when he opened a two-day induction training on Child Protection at Catholic Secretariat in Lilongwe.

Fr. Saindi said the training was aimed at empowering coordinators and Child Protection Focal persons to advocate for a 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 deal away with the vice.

“Considering the increase of the 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 fulfillment 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 places alone 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 important to the diocese and the church at large to mobilize the people against the maltreatment of children.

“The training has to a large scale contributed to a mindset change of understanding who a child is, the need to safeguard and prioritize their welfare in executing our duties in protecting the children”, said Fr. Tsegula.

The responsibilities of the DCPC’S include understanding child protection and abuse, codes of conduct, signs of abuse, pastoral care with the abusers and offender supervision to manage risks, who to report to, setting up and maintaining complaints mechanisms, monitoring and reporting, and establishing local complaints mechanisms just to mention a few.

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.

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