Catholic Church sensitises children to report abuses

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
Most Rev. Gabriel Charles Palma Buckle  speaking to children
Most Rev. Gabriel Charles Palma Buckle speaking to children

The vice president of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, Most Rev Charles Palmer- Buckle, has advised young people to be bold and report all forms of abuses they endure in society.

He said if young people learned to report abuses meted out to them by their parents, guardians, priests, church elders and teachers, the incidence of such abuses could be curtailed in Ghana.

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Addressing some schoolchildren at a durbar on child protection awareness at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Accra yesterday, Most Rev. Palmer-Buckle said “as little children, do not allow yourself to be abused in the church by any church elder, in school by teachers and at home by parents and guardians.”

“There are abuses in the church and it is shameful; if a priest, a religious or a church elder is asking something of you that is not allowed, tell the person straight in the face that you will report it to your parents,” he told the children.

The event, held on the theme, “Protect us from abuses: Contributing to the awareness of child protection”, brought together a number of schoolchildren from various Catholic basic schools in Accra to acquire knowledge of various forms of child abuse.


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It was organised by the Centre for Human Development (CEHUD) of the National Catholic Secretariat.

Moral responsibility

Most Rev. Palmer-Buckle, who is the Catholic Archbishop of Cape Coast,  pointed out that it was disgraceful that Catholic priests and bishops who should protect children were also involved in the abuse of children.

“I am not here to defend us; it is bad, it is shameful and the Pope has told us that as Catholic bishops, priests and leaders, we must make sure that in the church the children feel safe and should come to the church knowing fully well that they are safe.

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“So we in the church have a very high moral responsibility to protect you the little children who are the greatest treasure God gives to humanity,” he stated.

Abuse on social media

Touching on the social media, he decried the rampant child abuses on social media and television programmes, stressing that “many children undergo subtle abuse without knowing it.”

He stressed that exposure to social media could lead to children becoming addicted to things that would abuse them in future.

Sensitisation

The Director of CEHUD, Rev Fr Emmanuel Mensah, said over the past three years, the centre had set out to create awareness against all forms of abuses, including child protection seminars throughout the four Catholic Ecclesiastical provinces.

He, however, urged parents to do everything within their power to protect children from all kinds of abuses, be it sexual, early marriage, child labour, child prostitution or child trafficking.

“We must, as parents, support our children and help them to also educate their peers to be aware of the dangers around them,” he said, and encouraged young people to report unscrupulous adults to trusted adults.