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Meeting of the “ad hoc” Commission for Child Protection

24/05/2013: General House

The General House in Rome hosted the first meeting of the “ad hoc” Commission for Child Protection on May 13- 17. The meeting was aimed at reviewing, assessing and suggesting recommendations to the documents that each Marist Province and District presented on the topic, with guidelines provided by the Marist Institute. The Commission is made up by the following Brothers: Jim Jolley, Director of “Child Rights Advocacy” of FMSI (Marist International Solidarity Foundation), in Geneva, who acts as coordinator;  Alexis Turton, from the Province of Australia, Gérard Bachand, from the Province of Canada; Carlos Gutiérrez Blanco, Province of Central America; Sandro André Bobrzyk, Province of Rio Grande do Sul, Lluís Serra lansana, Province of the Hermitage, and Hank Hammer, Province of the United States (who was absent). All the process was carried out in the presence of Brother John Klein, Councilor General.

Children’s and Adolescents’ rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) are the triggers of new educational policies and appropriate action plans to build a safer world for children. This entails prevention, protection and the creation of a safer place for children, as well as solving and sanctioning cases of abuse that might occur. Each Province must devise and approve policies and implement and assess them. Nevertheless, the General Council provided guidelines and set up a Commission to help the Provinces with recommendations and suggestions.

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LluisWe posed some questions to Brother Lluís Serra.

What is your first impression of the work carried out so far?

The Administrative Units (Provinces and Districts) have taken the task very seriously. Due to the multi-disciplinary aspect of protection policies, the task is rather complex and has been addressed with great responsibility. Instead of relegating the chapter on abuse to a secondary place, it was included in a broader dynamic, based on precaution, protection and safety. It is a matter of reinforcing with legal instruments the relevance of the charism of Saint Marcellin Champagnat with regard to children: spirituality, love and education.

Does the current situation call for a change in mentality?

Yes, indeed. Children and adolescents can no longer be considered as totally passive people, who have to be shaped through education. They are responsible subjects of their own education. They have rights that must be respected, and duties they must fulfill. This approach calls for a change in the traditional mindset of parents and educators. Its secular roots hinder that transformation. Luckily, however, the steps taken in this direction are always more resolute. Policies and action plans are consistent with this change.

A safer world for our children…

There will always be problems, because aggressive behavior against children is caused by disorders rooted in the human heart. However, legal tools and convincing reactions against abuse can stop deviations that in a tolerant environment would otherwise be committed fearlessly. Those of us who are involved in education can be pleased with these policies. The wellbeing of the child and adolescent is considered as a top priority.

Thank you.

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