The World Council of Churches (WCC) has launched a campaign and a toolkit with practical and spiritual resources for pastors, leaders, and Sunday schools to facilitate real conversation and help churches create a safer world for children.
"In these days of concern about global health, we must not forget children,” said WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca. "By giving ourselves the tools to recognize the signs, to talk about it, and to report it, we can all help protect children against physically and emotionally traumatizing abuse,” concluded Sauca.
The "Out of the shadows and into the light" campaign and toolkit is a concrete step to raise awareness on risks and responses to protect children, particularly in the context of confinement caused by the COVID-19 crisis. It acknowledges that churches are well placed to raise awareness of threats of child sexual abuse and put in place preventive measures and support victims, especially among the most vulnerable.
Churches from Tanzania, Nigeria, India, Indonesia and the Philippines have participated in a pilot project of the campaign that offered capacity-building workshops to church representatives. The work done in these targeted countries helped to shape the toolkit, and to develop national action plans in response to the issues raised by the Out of the Shadows Index. Undertaken by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the index measures how national actors in 60 countries address child sexual abuse and exploitation.
The campaign and toolkit support WCC's Churches' Commitments to Children programme, which was developed with member churches, UNICEF and other key partners to promote concrete actions that any churches can undertake to respect and protect children's rights.
Following the launch of the toolkit, the “Out of the shadows” campaign will support churches that want to collaborate in the dissemination of the findings and recommendations of the campaign and promote national toll-free child helplines.