Church leaders in the country have been advised not to shield perpetrators of child abuse in their churches as it is a violation of the Constitution.
Mr Ebenezer Tetteh Kpalam, the Founder and President of the Kinder Foundation, a Christian non-governmental organisation (NGO), urged churches to have child protection policies that protect children from abuse, and stressed that “Although the church is a place where children are sometimes abused, it is also a place where abuses are not reported.
“The church should not handle cases of sexual abuse. Domestic violence cases are criminal in nature. Such cases must be reported,” he said.
He, however, stated that the church could offer emotional support to such victims because of the trauma they go through.
He was speaking at the ninth anniversary celebration of the Child Development Centre of the Trinity Parish of the Global Evangelical Church at Kotobabi in Accra.
The centre was established in partnership with Compassion International Ghana in November 2006 with the registration of 200 needy children in Kotobabi and its environs.
The centre currently has 276 children.
He said, “Our churches need to screen and conduct background checks on people who take care of children in the church.”
That aside, he said, church leaders also needed training on child rights and protection with the church also taking steps to equip parents with child care mechanism as there were some parents who were abusing children in the name of discipline.
He observed that child neglect and abuse cases were rampant because of little focus on the needs of children by policy makers, saying “when we are planning, our major concern is the needs of adults. We behave as if we don’t have any responsibility towards children.”
Rising cases of child abuse
Mr Kpalam’s observations come in the wake of several reported cases of child abuse in some Catholic churches, especially in Europe and the United States. In Ghana, child sexual molestation by some pastors also persist.
According to the United Kingdom’s Mail Online, in the last 10 years, the Vatican had investigated more than 4,000 cases of sex abuse by priests on children.
In the United Kingdom, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established in January 2013, and as of October 1 that year, it had handled nearly 26,000 phone inquiries and had referred more than 760 cases to law enforcement authorities.
Make time for children
The Head Pastor of the church, Rev. Simon D.K. Dumevi, also added his voice to the call on church leaders to refer cases of sexual abuse involving children to the right authorities and called on the adult population to make time for children.
The day was not just about speeches, the children thrilled the audience with choreography, a sketch and cultural display.
Giving an overview of the centre’s programmes, its Project Director, Mr Peter S.K. Buahini, said the centre had done a lot in the lives of the beneficiary children.
That notwithstanding, he said, the centre would soon be weaned off the support it received from Compassion International.
Appeal for support
He, therefore, appealed to members of the church and public-spirited organisations to support the centre to contribute to the positive development of the children.
For her part, the Partnership Facilitator of the Compassion International Country Office, Mrs Ophelia Ampomah-Benefo, also urged parents to make time for their children.
Apart from meeting the spiritual, physical / health, cognitive and socio- emotional needs of the children in accordance with Luke 2:52, she said children also need to participate in extra–curricular activities such as choreography, cultural troupes, drama and vocational skills including sewing, cookery, bead-making, football, creative art and hairdressing.