Beginning on World Day for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, Healing and Justice, the virtual symposium is being hosted by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard Divinity School, the Chan School of Public Health and the Catholic Project at the Catholic University of America.
"For many children worldwide, churches represent a shelter, a safe haven, a guiding light in the midst of challenging times,” said Frederique Seidel, World Council of Churches (WCC) senior advisor on child rights, who will be speaking at the symposium.
“Ensuring a child-safe church environment must be a top priority. Effective child safeguarding policies are indispensable for any institution’s activities involving children. Therefore the WCC is grateful to the Harvard Human Flourishing Program for bringing together partners in this event, to strengthen ongoing efforts for prevention and responses to child abuse.”
More than 1,300 participants have registered, including faith leaders, public health practitioners, policy makers, child welfare advocates, and those working in education settings, the criminal justice system, health care organizations and the public health sector with an interest in child sexual abuse prevention and healing.
The symposium also offers access to evidence-informed tools, training, and publications including examples of healing and prevention programs in action around the world.
"From a public health perspective, religious leaders are increasingly seen as a powerful force for shaping behaviors and perceptions," said Jennifer Wortham, research associate at the Human Flourishing Program, "but not all religious leaders are prepared to support the complex psychosocial needs of this vulnerable population. Without effective training, tools, and resources, these efforts run the risk of doing more harm than good."