2020-06-26 GENERAL HOUSE

Br. Ken McDonald, Councillor General, speaks about Child Protection Standards of the Institute

Marists’ first responsibility is to create safe environments for children and young people and to protect them from any form of harm or abuse. “Marcellin loved children and was fierce in his protection of them.  We can do no less.” (Br. Seán Sammon, Superior General, 2001-2009)

Our understanding of the impact of the abuse of children and young people has deepened in recent times. We have learned from the difficult lessons of the past that we have a paramount responsibility to ensure that all our ministries are safe for children. These lessons have been reinforced by listening to the victims of abuse. When our ministries don’t prioritize the protection of children and young people and we do not provide them with a safe environment, the impact on their lives can be devastating. Our better understanding also includes the need to protect the community as a whole because every case of abuse can have a profound impact on the whole community.

As Marists we believe the protection of children is a crucial part of our mission. In our efforts to ensure that all our ministries provide a safe environment, the Institute developed Child Protection Standards in 2011. These standards continue to provide guidance for the development of policies by all the administrative units and ministries of the Institute. To ensure that the Institute continues to implement policies that take into account best practices from around the world the Commission for the Protection of Children and Venerable Adults has been working to revise these standards.

The Standards use a Child rights-based approach to ensure that children have a safe environment in Marist ministries. These Standards guarantee that the rights of children are understood and respected. The Standards also take into account that the Institute is present in and ministers to children in over 80 countries with many different cultural contexts.

The Children and young people we work with are at the centre of every policy. To provide children with an understanding of their rights, to ensure they are listened to and believed, and to guarantee their safety and well-being are fundamental to the Institute’s Standards.

Another priority in ensuring that all our ministries are safe for children is the formation of those who work with them. It is important that all the staff in our ministries have an understanding of the rights of the children they work with. They need to respect these rights and ensure that their efforts to educate children also promote the rights of children and ensure their safety and well-being. Children are to be treated with dignity at all times and when with us they should feel secure and cared for.

As all of us are aware we don’t get it right all the time. Even with our best efforts to protect children, sometimes bad things happen. Dealing appropriately with victims of historical or current abuse, is vital in the work of the Commission. That there are victims of abuse is a shameful part of our history. The Standards commit the Institute to continue working for the healing of these victims. Our desire is to work with victims in a way that helps them to recover and live full, satisfying lives.

The Institute has worked hard to develop and review its Child Protection Standards. However, having this policy is not enough. The policy must be followed up with concrete actions that ensure that all children in our care feel safe and are protected.

Br. Ken McDonald, Councillor General


Marist Novitiate of Matola...


First Profession at Marist Brothers Pacific N...