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Conference to tackle 'two weaknesses' hampering fight against child abuse

Christian ministries are to join forces to host an international safeguarding conference aimed at tackling blind spots preventing churches and statutory agencies working most effectively together ...

CCPAS (the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service), one of the UK’s leading safeguarding charities, and Premier Christian Media are jointly to hold an international safeguarding conference.

Sponsored by Compassion International and taking place in central London on 25-26 June 2013, its title is Safeguarding and Faith – Worldwide Perspectives, Challenges and Solutions.
An array of internationally renowned speakers include Professor Boz Tchividjian of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) in the USA, Dr Lisa Oakley of Manchester Metropolitan University and Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the first-ever Children’s Commissioner for England.
In addition, current President and CEO of Compassion, Wess Stafford, will appear by prerecorded video. Other contributions will be from CEOP, the Metropolitan Police’s Project Violet team and a number of leading UK-based organisations concerned with safeguarding African children, including the Victoria Climbié Foundation, AFRUCA and the Congolese Family Centre. Like CCPAS, all are members of the Government’s Working Group on Child Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief and contributed to the National Action Plan.
Simon Bass, CEO of CCPAS said: “This is an exceptionally important conference. It seeks to highlight – and suggest ways to overcome – two fundamental weaknesses currently hampering the worldwide fight against child abuse.
“The first concerns those working for the statutory agencies, such as the police and social services. In these professions there is, all too often, a deficit in their ‘faith literacy’, or their capacity to understand the values and beliefs of a variety of faith-based communities.
“This deficiency is matched, similarly, by some churches and faith-based organisations in the UK and abroad whose activities frequently demonstrate a blithe disregard for legal safeguarding frameworks in place locally. This totally unacceptable deficit in their ‘legislative literacy’, as we might term it, must be battled and overcome in exactly the same way.
“We also expect that the twin geographical perspectives of the conference will inform and motivate delegates working in one sphere to learn more about the current issues prevailing in the other. Even more importantly, we hope it will encourage them to embrace or adapt other best practice solutions into their own working environments.
“We therefore believe the conference will be relevant to a wide range of people involved in safeguarding in faith contexts. These will include churches and faith organisations such as mission agencies, certainly, but it will also include social workers, local authorities, law enforcement, police and probation services and secular safeguarding charities and agencies.
Peter Kerridge, CEO of Premier Christian Media, commented: “Premier is committed to enabling the Christian faith to be communicated in the most effective ways possible. This conference highlights issues which need to be addressed to ensure that children are protected in a religious environment.
“We need to ensure that a new generation hear and understand that Christianity brings wholeness, peace and purpose to a person’s life, this starts from a base of security and trust which needs to be rigorously reinforced”.

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