PREVENTION AND RESPONSE TO CHILD ABUSE
Child abuse can take many different forms, such as physical abuse, child neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. Every community member can play a role in protecting children. By taking all preventative measures possible an environment becomes unfavorable to predators and institutional opportunities for abuse to occur. So what can you and your temple to do help create a safer environment?
-Establish and comply to all preventative measure in a temple and at home
-Learn how to identify signs of abuse and how and who to report any suspicious signs of abuse.
-Set a good example of preventative measures in your family for the rest of the community.
When child abuse occurs in our communities it gets our attention, and it should also serve as a catalyst for action. However, communities should no wait until abuse has occurred to realize child abuse can happen any where at any time and apply all preventative measure possible from the beginning.
Temples must assure that abuse of children will not be tolerated or ignored. The temple can demonstrate its commitment to providing a safe, secure place for children emotionally, physically, and spiritually, by seriously addressing the need to develop and implement an ongoing educational plan for the congregation and its leaders on the reality of child abuse, risk factors leading to child abuse, and strategies for prevention.
It is understandable that members of our temples do not like to think that any person in the Gurukula or other congregational members would harm a child, but the transgressions of the past are a reality. Conversely, we do not like to think that false allegations of abuse could be made. Therefore a comprehensive strategy against abuse should be implemented to reduce needless risk of harm that may be done to our children.
If any such child abuse is brought to the attention of the child protection team, the team should act upon it with deliberation. The longer the abuse goes on, the more harm it does to the child. If you suspect a child is in a dangerous situation, take immediate action.
Every team should learn and follow local laws on mandated reporting of child abuse to civil authorities.
It is our responsibility to protect the children sent to us by Lord Krishna and Srila Prabhupada.