2018-06-12 PHILIPPINES

Safeguarding of Children

Br Jeff Rhey, who obtained a diploma at the Centre for Child Protection at the Gregorian University earlier this year, gave an orientation session on child safeguarding for the staff of Notre Dame of Cotabato in southern Mindanao, the Philippines, in May. The theme was ‘The role of the Catholic educational institution in safeguarding of children’ and focused on child rights and the problem of online sexual exploitation of children in the country.

Ninety-six staff, including religious brothers and Christian and Muslim teachers, took part. They look after 2,500 students from kindergarten to high school.


Child protection and child rights in the Institute

In recent years, the Institute has become very aware of the serious abuse suffered by children and has laid the groundwork for guaranteeing that Marist works be safe places for them. At present, 100% of Administrative Units have a brother appointed to the role of safeguarding delegate.

Since 2011, the General Government carries out actions to promote institutional policies that include fundamental principles and norms for the protection of children. In addition to the role of FMSI at the United Nations, two seminars were held at the General House for leaders of the entire Institute: Safeguarding Children and Young People (2012) and Keeping Children Safe: Raising Awareness, Creating a Safe Environment’ (2016).

The debate during the last General Chapter in 2017 was an important step in this process. It issued a statement to abuse victims and survivors, underscoring that “abuse is the very antithesis of our Marist values, and undermines the very purpose of our Institute. Any abuse of children is a betrayal of the noble ideals of our founder, St Marcellin Champagnat.”

Even considering the achievements that have already been made, the Institute believes it is necessary to continue to progress to the point where this awareness reaches every corner of the Marist world, where adults have the means needed to prevent and protect children from any kind of abuse and where effective action and procedures are in place regarding the dignity of children.

To further the formation of brothers and lay people involved in the Marist mission, the Institute, through FMSI, is promoting the E-Learning formation offered by the Centre for Child Protection of the Gregorian University. Educators from Europe are already attending the programme, offered through the University of Alcalá de Henares. Starting next October, the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná will offer the same course to Brazilian educators. Soon, other Marist institutions in Peru, Mexico, Chile and Argentina will conclude the agreement with the Pontifical Gregorian University and will also be able to train other people involved with the education of children and young people, becoming promoters of the defence of their rights.


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