30/11/2013 09:19

Divine Word University at the forefront of child protection

By Fr. Giorgio Licini
Catholic Bishops Conference PNG & SI
Secretary for Social Communications

29 NOV 2013. A call to action for the protection of children came this morning from Prof. Br. Julian McDonald, a member of the Divine Word University Governing Council and active against child abuse in Australia since 1990. Speaking at a workshop for academic staff on "Safeguarding children and young people”, Prof. McDonald said that safety policies need to be put up for the simple fact that are needed: millions of children are subject to abuse and neglect all over the world every day. Though child abuse may not necessarily be of a sexual nature, such as the case of forced labor or corporal punishment, it is frequently sexually related; and “90 per cent of it takes place in a domestic environment”, Prof. McDonald said.

According to Communication Arts senior lecturer Mr. Patrick Matbob the traditional Melanesian society was carefully dealing with sexuality and marriage. Young people were led into adulthood through initiation and were told how to behave. Nothing and nobody has replaced that function in an orderly way in modern Melanesian communities.

Government and Churches have been late in dealing with the issue of child abuse and neglect, but what really matters now is the way forward: “It is easy to say what has not been done so far; more difficult to say what to do from now on”, Prof. Julian McDonald concluded. The conversation will help Divine Word University draft a Child Protection Policy for the different campuses and Departments, particularly Education. It will also put the institution at the forefront of child protection in the country according to President Fr. Jan Czuba. (giorgiolicini@yahoo.com)