'There is a consensus that children should be protected from abuse or exploitation, and society delegates responsibility for the task to teams of social workers, police, education and health staff. But there is growing opinion that the agencies charged with safeguarding children need more support from the publicThe children's charity, the NSPCC, believes preventing child abuse is the responsibility of every member of society and not just specialist police and social workers.' Kendra Inman Channel 4 Online -click here for more on this article
PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE ADULTS IN THE CATHOLIC COMMUNITY IN ENGLAND AND WALES
'The Church recognises the personal dignity and rights of children, towards whom it has a special responsibility and a duty of care. The Church, and individual members of it, undertake to do all in their power to create a safe environment for children and to prevent their physical, sexual or emotional abuse. The Church authorities will liaise closely with statutory agencies to ensure that any allegations of abuse are promptly and properly dealt with, victims supported and perpetrators held to account.'
'Child abuse may be physical, sexual, emotional or by neglect. It causes harm that often lasts into adulthood. If the abuser is a parent or if he or she is someone who is supposed to represent God and the Church the harm done can be even greater. Many continue to bear the wounds in their personality, in their close relationships and in their future hopes. Even so, survivors of the various forms of abuse witness to the capacity of the human person to overcome the pain and harm which has been perpetrated. God, who came into the world as a child, can still be found in the process of healing, in those who help in this process and in those who work to protect children ' CLICK HERE FOR FULL TEXT
GUIDELINES FOR HANDLING A DISCLOSURE OF ABUSE IN CATHOLIC CHURCH SETTINGS
Take it seriously
Be honest with the child
Be clear that in order to help the child you cannot keep the information to yourself.
Explain to the child what will happen next and reassure that you will support them.
Reassure the child that he or she is right to tell.
Consult and get support.
Write down immediately what the child has said.
Record the time and date and your signature.
Report to the Diocesan Child Protection Co-ordinator and then either you or the Child Protection Co-ordinator must also ensure the incident is reported to the local Social Services or Police Dept . Make sure there is some clear agreement who is to perform the referral to the statutory agencies .
Try to silence or ask leading questions
Keep the secret
Jump to conclusions
Alert the perpetrator
Make promises you cannot keep.
HOW TO RESPOND
Try to avoid asking what? why? how? when? where? who? are you sure? why didn't you say that before ? or saying 'I can't believe it , I am shocked'.
DO TRY TO REASSURE THE CHILD THAT HE OR SHE WAS RIGHT TO TELL YOU.
The State Parties......Recalling that, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations has proclaimed that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance,
Convinced that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community,
Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding,
Considering that the child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society, and brought up in the spirit of the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity....................Recognizing the importance of international co-operation for improving the living conditions of children in every country, in particular in the developing countries,
Have agreed as follows (54 Articles)
ARTICLE 1 For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.
ARTICLE 2 1.. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status. 2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members.
ARTICLE 3 In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
Following the establishment of a National Agency for Children and Families it 'should require each of the training bodies covering the services provided by doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers, officers working in housing departments and social workers to demonstrate that effective joint working between each of these professional groups features in their national training programmes'
.. young children often appear able to do things in some contexts but not others. They possess competence that does not always emerge in their performances.One may seek to understand such discrepancies in the fact that some contexts are more threatening, unfamiliar or less motivating to children : ....... What might seem to be essentially similar tasks and activities in various contexts may well be located in quite different rules of conduct and interpretation'
David Wood 1986 'Aspects of Teaching and Learning' in Cultural Worlds of Early Childhood Woodhead et al 1998, London,Routledge, p.159.
'In order to understand the factors that really contribute to teenage pregnancy, we need to ask: why is it that some youngsters decide to have sex and others don't? For some it may be peer pressure, for others the influence of drink or perhaps just curiosity. One of the biggest factors in the decision is the youngster's attitude to pregnancy. Some teenagers actively want to get pregnant, and providing family planning is unlikely to change anything for this group. Other youngsters are keen to avoid pregnancy. Providing family planning makes these youngsters believe they are less likely to get pregnant and, as a result, more of them are likely to have sex. We are sometimes told, "Young people are going to have sex anyway - nothing will change that". Well, think about the following scenario. Say 100 youngsters have decided to have sex. Now say we were to remove all access to any form of family planning. Would all 100 still decide to have sex? Of course not! Those who want to get pregnant will still have sex. Some of the others will too, perhaps due to ignorance or peer pressure.However,at least some of those who are really keen to avoid pregnancy will now decide to abstain from sex.
The bottom line is that providing family planning in schools is likely to have two effects. Those girls who would have had sex anyway are less likely to get pregnant because they have greater access to contraceptives. However, the number of pregnacies among those girls who start to have sex as a result of providing family planning is likely to increase, because if they weren't having sex at all they wouldn't get pregnant.
We can only judge the overall effect by looking at the evidence. In fact, my research, recently published in the Journal of Health Economics, shows that increasing access to family planning for youngsters simply has not reduced teenage pregnancy rates.2
Many other papers have come to a similar conclusion. In the case of the morning-after pill, a study published in the British Medical Journal found that youngsters who were prescribed the morning -after pill were more likely to go on to have abortions at a later stage.3 Rather worryingly, little or no research has examined the impact of these types of policies on rates of sexually transmitted diseases.
There are two possible ways to interpret the finding that family planning has not reduced teenage pregnancies. One is that access to family planning removes a restraint on those teenagers who would otherwise not engage in sex. The other interpretation is that access to family planning has no effect on youngsters' behaviour at all. Either way, it seems very unlikely that recent proposals to provide condoms and the morning-after pill to youngsters at school without their parents knowing will help in reducing teenage pregnancies.'
In the case of Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority in 1986,Victoria Gillick attempted to achieve legislation through which medical practitioners would not be able to give young people under the age of 16 treatment including family planning services without parental consent. The House of Lords finally ruled that young people who are under 16 are competent to give valid consent to treatment if they have sufficient understanding and knowledge to enable them to understand fully what they are requesting. The ruling is also called Fraser Competence - Lord Fraser was the leading Law Lord for this review.The Gillick ruling was further reinforced through the Children Act 1989 and Access to Medical Records Act 1990. Professionals are urged however to try to encourage the child under 16,where possible, to include parents in any decisions particularly about contraception or abortion. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16 remains illegal . Depending on the circumstances and whether the girl was consensual a male can be charged under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 if aged 18 or older engaging in sexual activity with a girl under 16 or if he is aged 16 or under and believed the girl to be under 16 years of age at the time but if the girl is 13 or under it is statutory rape even if she is consensual .Teenage years can be difficult as children begin to assert themselves as young adults but problems can sometimes occur because parents do not acknowledge that they do still have responsibilities in caring for their children during the teenage years .In order to know that the child is safe the parent should try to provide some reasonable regulation of where the child goes and what the child does and where the child stays overnight . Unless there is an agreement with the parents for a child stay elsewhere overnight , in an environment where it is safe for the child to be , the parent has some responsibility to ensure the child has access to or is provided with transport to enable the child to get back to the safety and security of his or her own home. Under criminal justice law and child protection law parents do have a duty to provide care and a safe environment for their children up to the age of 18 . Where pregnancy occurs an unborn child can be registered or placed subject to a child protection plan if the lifestyle of the mother ,at any age, places the future life of the child , once born , at risk of significant harm. MCF2011
'The Church utterly condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, violence, harassment or abuse directed against people who are homosexual. Consequently, the Church teaches that homosexual people 'must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity' (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358). In so far as the homosexual orientation can lead to sexual activity which excludes openness to the generation of new human life and the essential sexual complementarity of man and woman, it is, in this particular and precise sense only, objectively disordered. However, it must be quite clear that a homosexual orientation must never be considered sinful or evil in itself.' Extract from Cherishing Life-Click here for full text
The response from the Association of Catholic Nurses in 2000 was as follows:
Bullying whether verbal or physical will or should never be condoned. The dignity of each person is to be respected whatever their sexual tendencies and schools have an anti bullying policy which should be invoked at any sign of bullying.
Schools have an obligation to give clear moral guidance to pupils. In September 1999 the government announced in its revision of the National curriculum, marriage and family life were to be given clear emphasis. Pupils should be taught the importance and nature of marriage and family life and bringing up children.
If section 28 were to be repealed alternative safeguards would be needed to protect all schools from the promotion of homosexual activity. It would never be right to present homosexuality as equal to marriage and children would be in danger of becoming more confused on these issues. Norah McCarthy 2000
'The family in the modern world, as much as and perhaps more than any other institution, has been beset by the many profound and rapid changes that have affected society and culture. Many families are living this situation in fidelity to those values that constitute the foundation of the institution of the family. Others have become uncertain and bewildered over their role or even doubtful and almost unaware of the ultimate meaning and truth of conjugal and family life. Finally, there are others who are hindered by various situations of injustice in the realization of their fundamental rights.
Knowing that marriage and the family constitute one of the most precious of human values, the Church wishes to speak and offer her help to those who are already aware of the value of marriage and the family and seek to live it faithfully, to those who are uncertain and anxious and searching for the truth, and to those who are unjustly impeded from living freely their family lives. Supporting the first, illuminating the second and assisting the others, the Church offers her services to every person who wonders about the destiny of marriage and the family' Familiaris Consortio ,Pope John Paul II,1981.
'marriage is a sacrament or sign of God’s love in which one man and one woman commit themselves to live together for a lifetime. It teaches also that marriage is the best foundation for a secure and happy family, and as such this should be recognised and have a special status in society' Catholic Marriage Resource Centre .
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON DIVORCE
'A child is not something owed to one,but is a gift. The supreme gift of marriage .....If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offence....... Divorce is a grave offence against the natural law. It claims to break the contract , to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death........... it introduces disorder into the family and society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse ,to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them.'
Chapman(1994)The Catechism of the Catholic Church ,2378, 2383 -2385
If divorce rates and death rates remain unchanged ..... For 45% the marriage will end in divorce ...The chances of relationship breakdown are even greater for cohabiting couples who have chosen not to marry' Guardian.co.uk (2008) click here for full text
WOMENS' AID NATIONAL CONFIDENTIAL HELPLINE TEL 0808 2000 247
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE /ABUSE
AN ESTIMATED 1 IN 4 WOMEN IN ENGLAND AND WALES HAVE EXPERIENCED SOME LEVEL OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE . WOMEN MAY EXPERIENCE MANY BEATINGS OR LEVELS OF ABUSE BEFORE FINALLY SEEKING HELP BECAUSE IT IS OFTEN HARD TO BREAK FREE FROM THE FINANCIAL SECURITY AND EXTENDED FAMILY OR FRIENDS THEY HAVE KNOWN THEY HAVE KNOWN . CHILDREN ALSO BECOME VICTIMS IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EXPERIENCING SERIOUS EMOTIONAL AND SOMETIMES PHYSICAL ABUSE. 2 WOMEN ARE KILLED EVERY WEEK IN ENGLAND AND WALES AS A RESULT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BY A FORMER OR CURRENT PARTNER
THE HOME OFFICE 2010 ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE working in conjunction with the Dept Health currently states that Domestic violence 'Whether it occurs in public or in private, violence is unacceptable and we are determined to do all we can to prevent it...Domestic violence is any threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are or have been in a relationship, or between family members. It can affect anybody, regardless of their gender or sexuality.The violence can be psychological, physical, sexual or emotional. It can include honour based violence, female genital mutilation, and forced marriage.' Children witnessing abuse become at risk of becoming emotionally abused themselves and may also become physically abused through exposure to domestic violence sometimes leading to necessary child protection procedures to safeguard them . Although there is increased awareness that domestic abuse can affect male victims domestic violence much more commonly affects women than men often impacting on their ability to care for their children . For more on violence against women and teenage girls click on HOME OFFICE 2010 ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS
'where social and cultural conditions so easily encourage a father to be less concerned with his family or at any rate less involved in the work of education, efforts must be made to restore socially the conviction that the place and task of the father in and for the family is of unique and irreplaceable importance.(72) As experience teaches, the absence of a father causes psychological and moral imbalance and notable difficulties in family relationships, as does, in contrary circumstances, the oppressive presence of a father, especially where there still prevails the phenomenon of "machismo," or a wrong superiority of male prerogatives which humiliates women and inhibits the development of healthy family relationships' FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO, PART 1 ; 25, Pope John Paul II click here for full text