“Not enough attention is being paid by religious communities to address violence against children.” This was part of the consensus arrived at by 60 religious representatives and experts from 15 different religions who met for a consultation on “Mobilizing Religions to Address Violence Against Children.”
This was held in Toledo, Spain, from May 9-11. The consultation was organized by UNICEF and the Non Governmental Organisation, (NGO), Religions for Peace.
CCC General Secretary, Gerard Granado was asked to chair the first session of the consultation. The consultation was an attempt to re-affirm the commitment of the religious communities to issues of child protection and violence.
Other key aspects of the consensus included the belief that: human dignity is sacred and nobody has the right to violate it; a distinction is to be made between violence and discipline; and better monitoring mechanisms such as internal controls should be put in place to address the mistakes that continue to be made regarding religious communities and their treatment of the issues of violence against children.
UNICEF’s child protection programme includes a project on preventing child abuse. It focuses on building and improving the skills of teachers, caregivers, parents and health and relief workers in the detection of abuse. Several recent studies have documented a nationwide prevalence of abuse of children.
In one such survey, 20.5% of 6-11 year olds and 8.7% of 12-18 year olds had been physically punished by their caregivers in the week before the survey was undertaken.
Recommendations from the consultation will be submitted to the UN Study on Violence Against Children for inclusion in the final report that will be sent to the UN General Assembly at the end of 2006.
The CCC has also recognized its obligation to address the issues surrounding youth at risk, and has launched a pilot project at the Youth Training Centre, (YTC); a juvenile detention centre in Trinidad.
The programme falls under the Youth, Family Life and Gender Affairs Programme of the CCC, and engages young males below the age of 18, who are kept in temporary detention.
A series of workshops are being held over a 20-week period aimed at the social development of those involved, with the hope of improving the necessary life-skills.
This programme also includes engaging with the parents/guardians and church communities of the young males to expose them to ways in which they can assist the youth to re-integrate into, and contribute positively to their communities.