Leaders of religious and faith-based communities in Sri Lanka assembled at a National Religious Leaders Conference on November 20 to mark the “World Day of Spirituality and Action for Children”, pledge their commitment to act as a matter of urgency to prevent child abuse.
They pledged to make use of the special mandate religious leaders have to call people to gather, to invite key stakeholders related to child protection to collaborate on prevention of child abuse.
The National Religious Leaders Conference featured Buddhist, Hindu, Christian leaders and the UNICEF Country Representative Reza Hossaini; The resolutions and pledges from the meet included the following:
- intervene to stop child abuse from becoming politicized and discourage involvement of politicians in taking advantage of the problem of child abuse for political gain;
- advocate to expedite pending legal cases related to child abuse and to give appropriate punishment for any party found guilty of child abuse;
- influence media institutions to adopt child-friendly reporting practices and avoid sensationalization of reporting related to child abuse;
- contribute to the child abuse prevention efforts of the Government, Non-governmental Organizations, Civil Society and the Private Sector;
- provide leverage on religious sermons, ceremonies and community gatherings to raise awareness and bring attention to the issue of child abuse;
- use religious education forums such as Sunday school and Dhaham Pasal to create awareness among children of the abuse-related threats around them and how to protect themselves from such compromising situations;
- educate communities on the negative influence of the mass media with regards to child abuse; ensure that the privacy of any child who has suffered from abuse is protected, intervene in situations when children who have suffered from abuse are ill-treated in the legal and probation system as well as in the community and pressing for necessary child-friendly changes to such practices;
- provide necessary social, psychological and spiritual support to children who have suffered from abuse;
- ensure that in any intervention thus made, the child’s best interest is always considered and whenever possible they are provided with a safe family environment; provide support in identifying possible cases where children are in vulnerable situations and intervene to minimize risks;
- create awareness of the ill effects of addiction to alcohol and advocate against the promotion, sale and use of alcohol and drugs;
- teach communities about facts and myths about alcohol such as the fact that people use alcohol as an excuse for violent behavior, alcohol and the myth that alcohol causes violence;
- mobilize and organize communities to resist direct and indirect promotion of alcohol in the community as well as through the print and electronic media;
- support addressing vulnerabilities faced by children with special needs; encourage and advise parents to develop positive relationship with their children based on open communication and trust;
- bring attention to the vulnerabilities faced by children in families where parents are away from their children and encourage parents to teach children on life skills including good touch and bad touch, how children may avoid situation that make them vulnerable and the need to inform parents of any inappropriate attention a child is receiving from another person.
Interfaith workshop on Child Sexual Abuse, Sri Lanka
Source: The Nation, Sri Lanka
Photo Credit: The Nation, Sri Lanka