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An Introduction to Child Protection.

With everything that is happening world wide it is important that every organisation takes the necessary steps to protect the children and young people who are entrusted into their care.

Under the Children's Act 1989 (UK) we all have a responsibility for the well-being of children. How can the church take up this responsibility? In the following document I hope to give you some thoughts and information that will help.

Let us start by asking two questions:

1. Who are we seeking to protect?

First and foremost the children in our care, second, people working with children and third, the organisation.

2. Who are we seeking to protect the children from?

Anyone who would abuse. This includes the attentions of paedophiles (a paedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to children). I am told paedophiles are not normally opportunist and will go to the extent of taking several years to gain a position of trust within an organisation, and, from this established position, abuse. With this in mind, a child protection policy is the best form of protection we can offer our young people. A paedophile who is looking to target a church will think again where there is a pro-active policy and action taken on every allegation.

Every church should, therefore, have stated guidelines for the operation of all ministries and projects where young people are involved and a policy to deal with any allegations of abuse. If church leaders are not pro-active in their efforts to protect children in this way then they are negligent in their duty. Some church leaders see their responsibility only in terms of reacting in certain ways once a situation has occurred, this is like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Only here we are not talking of livestock, but people's lives that can be damaged in the most hideous ways imaginable. We need to move the emphasis away from abuse and towards protection, the aim is to prevent abuse happening, rather than only getting involved once damage has been done.

If you are a member of a church, ask your leadership what their stated policy is for the protection of children. Don't be satisfied with anything less than a recognised policy. Remember we are all responsible for the well-being of children.

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