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.

 

Why temples have such a high risk of abuse, thus the even more urgent need to implement preventative measures at temples.

Several of the following factors could be named:

  • Temples behave as relatively trusting organizations, relying upon their members and their leaders to conduct themselves appropriately. Sometimes our trusting attitude persists even in the face of questions or reports of misconduct.

  • Temples are notoriously inactive when it comes to screening its devotees and new members.

  • Temples routinely provide opportunities for close contact and personal relationships with children.

Know the facts

The Law and Your Liabilities

Child abuse is criminal behavior and is punished severely, although each state and/or country has its own specific legal definition. You should know the laws and responsibilities that apply to managers and clergy of your state or country.

Know the Facts
  • Screening procedures such as application forms, interviews, reference checks, etc., for workers (paid and unpaid) directly or indirectly involved in the temple and especially in the care of children and youth. Our temple communities have been endangered by devotees or employees who have tendencies towards abusive or criminal acts. Therefor, it is necessary that temple management know the character and background of each devotee/employee serving, working and residing in the temple. This devotee/employee screening process will protect temples from negligent liability, as well as provide our devotee communities a sense of trust and safety for themselves and their children. Proper screening costs very little but increases safety and protection a great deal.

  • Safety procedures such as two or more adults present in the room, leaving doors open. providing hall monitors. and instituting sign-in and sign-out procedures for children ten or younger.

  • Giving children numbers of an agency or person whom they can contact for advice and help in case of abuse.

  • Developing awareness and self-protection skills in children through special curriculum and activities.

  • Being aware of temple policies concerning abuse, past abusers, and abuse cases. Also, be aware of legal liabilities for temples and individuals.

  • Having training courses for temple leaders, child protection team members and teachers on signs of abuse, obligations and prevention.

  • Having congregational awareness days to emphasize child protection, what abuse is, and how to prevent it. Child abuse can be as much of a problem in the congregations as within the temple.

  • Hold annual management meetings to develop safety and risk-reducing policies and procedures.

  • Carrying liability insurance including abuse coverage.

Strategies for Child Protection Include: