Oct 11, 2013, 9:36 AM
The Catholic Diocese of Banjul called up a two day workshop for its entire clergy, religious and lay faithful to mark the end of the pastoral year 2010-2011. This event occurred from the 30th June to the 1st July 2011 at the Gambia Pastoral Institute.
During this two day workshop, four documents were presented for study and formulation. The documents were on Deaneries, the constitution on Parish Pastoral Councils, the Constitution on Parish Finance Committees and the Child Protection Policy, 2011-2020.
The workshop was attended by Bishop Ellison, all the Priests, R eligious and representatives of the lay faithful. All participants gave their full attention and analysis of the documents because of their relevance and importance in the Catholic Church. The church took the bold step on Child Protection as it’s the request of the universal church. This mandate is to be fulfilled to the letter by the church because of the recent indecent scandals that were overtly manifested through the media regard child abuse.
The church in its calling now takes on the custodian role of caring, guiding and protecting children from being abused. This document is what was presented:
CHILD PROTECTION POLICY IN THE DIOCESE OF
Children are a gift from God to families, church and society at large. They are human, created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27-28) and as such they deserve to be treated with care and dignity. How children are nurtured now will have some impact on them as future adults.
The interest in child protection is based on the increasing instances of their abuse and the desire to protect and form our future generations in the best way possible. Child’s rightsa re promoted world wide; The Gambia has enacted a law (2005) to safeguard the rights of the child which also includes their responsibilities. Similarly the Diocese of Banjul wishes to contribute its quota in ensuring child welfare through this policy within parishes, schools and institutions belonging to the Diocese.
1. Goals of the Policy
• To ensure that children within the Institution, Associations and Parishes of the Banjul Diocese are treated with dignity, respect and without any discrimination.
• To provide children with opportunities to develop to their full potentials in all Diocesan Institutions, Associations and Parishes.
• To ensure that due attention is given to child welfare all throughout the Diocese.
2. Recruitment and Posting of Staff
• All staff to be recruited for all Catholic Institutions, Associations and Parishes dealing with children must be screened for child abuse – these institutions and associations include schools, health care institutions, youth groups, missionary childhood associations, altar servers, etc.
• Known convicts for child abuse are exempted from employment in all Diocesan Parishes, Institutions and Associations.
• Any staff suspected of child abuse shall be counseled and monitored to avert child abuse.
• Catholic Institutions and Associations shall include some personnel with child protection expertise so as to monitor and evaluate the activities of the staff on regular basis. Parishes shall be encouraged to involve reliable personnel within them, like religious, parish chairperson, etc.
3. Code of Conduct for Staff
• The laws of the state are binding on all staff of Catholic Institutions, Parishes, and Associations
• A code of conduct for staff dealing with child protection shall be established for all Catholic institutions, Parishes and associations
• Staffs: all adults within Catholic Institutions, Parishes, and Associations shall comport themselves with dignity and integrity expected of a child’s parents.
• Staff and adults within the Catholic Institutions and Parishes shall see the welfare and protection of the children under their care as their responsibility to God.
4. Preventing Child Abuse
• The Diocese shall set up an office (Child Welfare Office) in the Secretariat to educate personnel within our institutions and Parishes about their responsibilities towards the welfare and protection of children by August, 2011.
• The Child Welfare Office shall comprise five people – a Priest, a female Religious, a Lawyer and two lay faithful.
• The Child Welfare Office shall monitor and evaluate the protection of the child in all Parishes, Catholic Institutions and Associations
• The Child Welfare Office shall deal with cases of child abuse on behalf of the Diocese.
• The Child Welfare Office shall collaborate with institutions in The Gambia that deal with children’s affairs – e.g Social Welfare, Child Protection Alliance, etc.
5. Dealing With Cases of Child Abuse
• Appropriate procedures dealing with child abuse cases shall be established and made known to all staff of Catholic institutions, Parishes and Associations
• Institutions and associations within Parishes must inform parents/guardians immediately of cases of child abuse and give them maximum support in the pursuit for a just solution.
• Cases of child abuse must be reported to civil authorities after the approval of the parents/guardians of the child who falls victim of abuse.
• Cases of child abuse (sexual, labour, rights, etc) must not be concealed or attempted to be solved privately.
• When a staff is accused of child abuse, it is the responsibility of the head of the institution or association or the Parish Priest to deal with the case; in the case where the head is involved the Child Welfare Office shall assume responsibility.
• Child abuse allegations shall be thoroughly investigated by qualified personnel before any other action is taken.
• Care must be taken to protect the privacy of the victim of child abuse
• Case of child abuse must be documented within all Catholic Institutions and Parishes
6. Time frame
This policy shall begin in October, 2011 to September, 2020. Midterm review shall be carried out in August, 2015.