JCAM Child Safeguarding: “Zero tolerance” said Fr. Lawrence Daka SJ

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By Honore Onana Olah, SJ

The Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) aims to promotes, within the communities, formation houses, ministries and governance of the Society, a consistent culture of protection and safety for minors; that is, a normal, habitual way of living, relating, working, in which those whom we serve, particularly children, always feel respected, safe, and loved.

JCAM commits to creating a culturally sensitive and contextually relevant safeguarding environment to ensure a generation free from abuse. On November 27-28 the JCAM Commission of Child Safeguarding held a meeting in Kenya. Fr. Lawrence Daka, Rector of St Ignatius College (Harare-Zimbabwe) and co-chair of that Commission was kind enough to do an interview:

The Commission of Safeguarding Protection gathered here in Nairobi at Hekima University College to consider and review the report which has been produced after the Baseline Study Survey which was carried out from June to September 2018. The child protection officers in the provinces and regions of JCAM carried out interviews in 61 structures, testing knowledge, attitudes and practices on child safeguarding and a report was presented to the Provincials in October 2018, in Harare, Zimbabwe, when they met for their plenary. After the report it was now back to us (the commission) as the implementers of this program so that we discuss and refine the recommendations in view of recommending or directing the child protection officers in the provinces and regions on what to do next. This meeting reviewed also our five years plan in view of recommendations that were made.

Pope Francis addressed a Letter this year (August 20, 2018) saying that there will be a “zero tolerance” for those who are abusing children…any comment about that?

We are aiming at making sure that we have a culture of safeguarding children so that we do not encounter any cases of child abuse. So yes I agree with what Pope Francis said. Times have changed and this issue of safeguarding is not going away; and the more we can collaborate, the more we can be creative, informed, and aware through training, so that we keep our work environment safe for children for the Greater Glory of God.

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