Everyday thousands of children are being sexually abused. You can stop the abuse of at least one child by simply praying. You can possibly stop the abuse of thousands of children by forwarding the link in First Time Visitor? by email, Twitter or Facebook to every Christian you know. Save a child or lots of children!!!! Do Something, please!

3:15 PM prayer in brief:
Pray for God to stop 1 child from being molested today.
Pray for God to stop 1 child molestation happening now.
Pray for God to rescue 1 child from sexual slavery.
Pray for God to save 1 girl from genital circumcision.
Pray for God to stop 1 girl from becoming a child-bride.
If you have the faith pray for 100 children rather than one.
Give Thanks. There is more to this prayer here

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Sunday, 29 October 2017

11 Positive Stories in the War Against Child Sex Abuse - 29 Oct. '17

Malaysia: Let’s have sex education in school - Ministry

PETALING JAYA: The Women, Family and Community Develop-ment Ministry has recommended a review of the school syllabus to incorporate sex education in the subjects of Moral Education and Islamic Studies.

Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim

The ministry said the recommendation was raised during the Malaysian Council for Child Welfare meeting at UTC Kuching in Sarawak recently.

The meeting was a platform for council members to discuss and find solutions to issues concerning children in the country, including students who were lagging behind academically or expelled, as well as incest.

“Concerns over the safety of children, especially that of sexual abuse victims, were also highlighted,” the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

“All this while, our children have been too exposed to unverified information on the Internet and social media,” the statement quoted Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim as saying.

The council also discussed the citizenship of children placed under the care of the Social Welfare Department – a matter that also involves the National Registration Department under the Home Ministry.

After the meeting, a dialogue programme was held at Yayasan Sarawak to discuss current issues concerning crime against children.

Among the panel speakers were Supt Siti Kamsiah Hasan, Dr Farah Nini Ahmad Dasuki and crime analyst Kamal Afendi Hasim. Some 200 parents, teachers, lawyers and children attended the programme.

Please pray that a good program educating children about good-touch - bad-touch, etc., is adopted and used in every school in Malaysia.

Zimbabwe child marriages draft bill complete
Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau

Government has completed drafting a Bill, which outlaws child marriages in line with the provisions of the Constitution, newly appointed Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Retired Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe has said.

Addressing Beitbridge residents during an advocacy meeting held last week, Minister Bonyongwe said the Bill had been sent to Cabinet for approval. The meeting was held to outline the scope of the constitution, which came into effect in 2013.

Minister Bonyongwe said the initiative would put into legislation the Constitutional Court ruling of January 20, 2016 barring child marriages.

“Government is equally worried with the upsurge in cases of child marriages and an upsurge on issues of sexual abuse against minors and the girl child,” he said.

“We have set in motion the processes to bring legislative tools that will accelerate the administration of justice on issues where child marriage and abuse of our children is concerned. Soon after approval by Cabinet, we will take the Bill to Parliament for further action.”

Minister Bonyongwe said Government was working on another Bill with proposed life sentence for those convicted on sexually abusing minors. He said those caught outside the law for raping adult women would be jailed for at least 40 years.

“The other part of the proposal is to have those convicted of rape and wilful transmission of HIV and Aids to the survivors should be jailed for at least 40 years,” he said.

“The need to create a peaceful society where sexual abuse is outlawed cannot be over emphasized.”

Government, he said, made significant progress in terms of aligning the laws with the Constitution and was looking at completing the process by the end of next year.

Minister Bonyongwe said his ministry was engaged in promoting and outlining the scope of the constitution to all the citizens countrywide.

“So far we have translated the Constitution into eight languages including Shona, Ndebele, Sotho, Tonga, Venda, Nambia, Kalanga and Braille,” he said.

“Further, my ministry, in partnership with the National Constitution Translation Committee, a consortium of six universities, is working towards the translation of the constitution into other vernacular languages. It is envisaged that the translation project will be completed in 2018.”

Minister Bonyongwe said Government had printed 500 000 copies of the constitution and a further 350 000 abridged versions in other languages. He said they developed 4 000 copies of braille for the benefit of those visually impaired.

“It is important for us to unpack the scope of our own home grown constitution which replaced the negotiated Lancaster House constitution on 22 May 2013,” said Minister Bonyongwe.

“Adoption of the Constitution, which consolidates the aspirations and wishes of our living and late gallant fighters such as President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the late nationalist Joshua Nyongolo Mqabuko Nkomo, Cephas Cele, George Silinduka and many more is a monumental achievement.”

Minister Bonyongwe said it was also critical for Government to promote the country’s supreme law to become a living and helpful document.

Lagos takes fight against domestic violence,
child abuse to students

Trains 5000 On Preventive Techniques 

Nigeria - The Lagos State Government under the aegis of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), has commenced engagement of 5000 Primary and Secondary School Students on Child Rights and Child Abuse as well as all forms of sexual and domestic violence. 

The initiative is also geared towards empowering them with their roles and responsibilities in handling and preventing such issues. 

Coordinator of DSVRT, Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi in a statement on Sunday said the Team held an interactive workshop for primary school children tagged ‘Safeguarding the Rights of a Child’, also known as STRAC to appropriately sensitize them in age appropriate language on their rights, responsibilities child abuse, on how to avoid being a victim of sexual abuse, self-defence tips, and how to preserve evidence when physically or sexually assaulted. She said DSVRT has also commenced the Smart Teens Advocacy Initiative (STAI), which is targeted at secondary school students, adding that the workshop deployed the means of drama, dance and role play. “STAI via interactive workshops is one of the strategies deployed to fight against the growing trend of rape culture in Secondary Schools. 

The rape prevention workshop is led by trained Peer educators, who have experience in gender relations, socialization, dating violence and sexual violence prevention. We believe this would go a long way in curbing incidents of Domestic violence, Child Abuse and Sexual Abuse amongst teens,” the DSVRT Coordinator said. 

According to her, the first set of workshops took place on Wednesday, 11th and Thursday 12th October, 2017 at Lagos Island, with over 1000 primary and secondary students in attendance drawn from different schools in Education District Three. 

She said asides verbally engaging students on their rights and responsibilities, the students were also equipped with relevant materials, textbooks and posters which can be displayed conspicuously in the school premises to serve as a reminder. 

“The program was deemed successful in sensitizing the students as feedback from them indicated they now feel empowered especially in the area of how to avoid being a victim of sexual abuse,” she said. 

She said in the next coming weeks, another set of 5000 students drawn from over 300 primary and secondary schools would be impacted with relevant information, expressing optimism that it would go a long way in empowering children and ensuring that the next generation is one that is fully sensitized around the ills of sexual abuse.

Save the Children to open Senegal talks on
child marriages

Though laws may forbid minors from marrying, forced premature matrimony remains a major issue for girls across the world. Many are condemned to lives of suffering.

Kinderehe Aktion Italien Amnesty International (Getty Images/G.Bouys)

Around the world, many girls and young women are denied educational and labor opportunities and forced into marriages that put many of them at risk of sexual violence, physical abuse and other forms of exploitation and oppression.

The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that every year 15 million girls are married off before their 18th birthday. According to UNICEF, some of them are as young as 10. They have to stop going to school, they're expected to keep house for men they've often never seen before — men who are generally several years older — and many get pregnant, even though their bodies are still immature.

"The risks for the young mothers-to-be increase during pregnancy and birth," Susanne Schröter, an ethnologist who heads the Frankfurt Research Center on Global Islam, told DW. Among other topics, she researches gender orders in primarily Muslim countries. It is overwhelmingly girls who are placed into underage marriage arrangements, which occur across cultures and continents.

"After the birth, the children are overwhelmed by their role as mothers because they're still children themselves," Schröter said. "It's an absolute scandal."

"The girls can't defend themselves, because the balance of power is such that they are in no position to resist," Schröter said.

Nigerians protested when a senator who married a teen blocked a vote to raise the age

'Long-term changes'

One of the UN's sustainable development goals is to make child marriage illegal worldwide by 2030. In order to achieve this, Save the Children is hosting a three-day international conference in Senegal starting on Monday, with representatives of various governments, religious authorities and children's rights organizations on hand to discuss the issue with young people and UN agencies.

In line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, most countries only permit marriage beginning at the age of 18. Between 2015 and 2017, Chad, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Guatemala raised the minimum marriage age to this level. They also abolished exceptions that allowed minors to marry legally with the permission of their parents or a judge. For Susanna Krüger, the head of Save the Children in Germany, the reduction in the number of child marriages represents a big success. "The legal framework helps to make long-term changes to societal structures," she told DW.

Nonetheless, the number of illegal child marriages has increased worldwide since 2015, from 11.3 million to 11.5 million — and that trend is continuing. Furthermore, 82.8 million girls aged 10 to 17 still have no legal protection against child marriage. Counting girls vulnerable to exemption clauses, which allow parents and judges to consent to marriages, the number rises to 96.1 million.
Multiple factors

Advocates for girls say bans alone are not effective to stem the rising number. "It's a mixture of many factors," Krüger said. "Religion, culture or societal, patriarchal structures are closely interwoven and mutually dependent."

Though poverty rates are dropping in some countries, conditions for the world's poorest people are generally getting worse. Girls from rural areas and extremely poor families are especially vulnerable. Their families often feel compelled to marry off their daughters for financial reasons, and especially to older men.

"Parents don't always want to marry their children off," Krüger said. "Many families have no possibility of shaking off the burden of this economic pressure," she added.

Armed conflicts are another factor in such arrangements, Schröter said, citing Syria's civil war as one example. "After the outbreak of the conflict, and above all after the start of the refugee exodus, the number of child marriages rose enormously," she said. "Girls of 11 or 12 were being married off in the belief that this would afford them protection from sexual abuse, for example. Fleeing makes people feel an increased need for security, so they turn to their tradition, which gives them security."

Save the Children is calling on politicians to take decisive action against child marriage. "The most important thing is education, and that children and girls remain in school," Krüger said. There is much that needs to be done within communities, she added — and that goes beyond educational work. Families need security so that they will not be economically disadvantaged if they don't marry off their daughters, for example. "We want to influence the government's programs so that parents and girls have financial possibilities and are able to work later on," Krüger said. Positive role models are important for this, she said, as is understanding and support from parents and communities.

Young Survivor hopes new code of conduct
can prevent future sexual abuse
By Bobby Oler | 
BOLIVAR, Missouri (KY3) - A year ago, Ryan Briggs, 19, came forward with an unthinkable story of being sexually abused at the age of 15. Since then, his passion has been to prevent it from happening to others in Bolivar.

“When you're helping people you really get to heal yourself of what has happened, and I think that's what I have done,” Briggs said.

He and his mother, Becky, have committed to drafting and ratifying a new code of conduct for how adults should interact with kids in Bolivar.

“When you have a code of conduct in place it gives people empowerment to watch,” Becky said. “Then they're more observant. They watch what's going on around them. They know for sure that these are the things we need to see people doing, or not doing.”

The proposed code isn’t a city ordinance or official town policy, but the hope is that if enough leaders and businesses adopt it then it will become an unofficial law.

“Our argument towards a code of conduct is simply you've got something you can back up on as a community,” Ryan said. “If you see an adult or someone who has signed this code of conduct [and they see something inappropriate, they can say], 'hey, this is not right. What you're doing to this child, or what you're doing to this teenager isn't alright, here's this code of conduct. We're calling you out on it.'”

It’s an 11 point, 1 page document, which signers will pledge to use “appropriate touch,” “Positive techniques of guidance,” and not give gifts to children without an appropriate adult’s consent, among other things.

“When you have a code of conduct in place it gives people empowerment to watch,” Becky Briggs says. “Then they're more observant. They watch what's going on around them. They know for sure that these are the things we need to see people doing, or not doing.”

They’ve been working with Darkness to Light, a national organization, as well as Bolivar community leaders to come up with the code. Right now it’s in its final draft. They hope to ratify it on November 13, and then take it around town for businesses to adopt.

Bolivar superintendent, Dr. Tony Berry, has been working with the Briggs’ since taking the job earlier this year.

“Adopting the code of conduct would say that this community is taking a proactive stance on how adults should be treating kids,” Dr. Berry said. “I think everybody that has rational thought about them says, 'yeah, this is absolutely how we should be treating kids.' The reality of it is, there are bad people out there.”

Ryan Briggs is hoping that this will inspire good behavior in Bolivar, or, at least, empower residents to find those bad people before it’s too late.

Regardless of how many businesses adopt the new code of conduct, this cause has given him a purpose.

“It gives you a goal,” he said. “It gives you something to be happy about, and helping others is at the core of making oneself happy. This isn't just about [me] being happy, this is a problem we face as a community, as a country, as a society. We face this.”

Ending Sexual Exploitation & Abuse of Children:
Working towards a World of Trust

This week, the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Convention for the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation & Sexual Abuse (the Lanzarote Convention) celebrated its 10th anniversary. The Convention, which was opened for signature on 25 October 2007 on the Spanish island of Lanzarote, remains to date the most ambitious and comprehensive international legal instrument for the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation.

“The best estimate is that one in five children at some point faces sexual exploitation or abuse,” said Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, in her address to conference attendees. “The trauma of such experience can last a lifetime: disrupting formal education, marring career prospects and resulting in a whole variety of mental health problems”.

The Lanzarote Convention deals with prevention, protection and prosecution of sexual exploitation and abuse of children. It criminalizes such offences as sexual abuse, child prostitution, child pornography, participation of a child in pornographic performances, corruption of children, as well as solicitation of children for sexual purposes (grooming). The Convention has now been ratified by 42 of the Council of Europe member States (all but Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom) and is open to States outside Europe.

“It is positive to see the way in which the Convention has raised awareness, laws have changed, and capacity to prevent and respond to sexual offences against children have improved in those countries that have signed it,” Deputy Secretary General added.

Among the significant achievements of the Convention are two monitoring reports on how countries implement the Convention.

Given that 70-85% of sexual abuse is committed by people from the “circle of trust” of the child, the first monitoring round completed in December 2015 focused on this theme. An example of good practice highlighted in the first monitoring report was the Icelandic model of a “children’s house” – a facility for children who have survived sexual abuse that can, in particular, be used to interview them in a child-friendly manner, during a single encounter with a specifically trained person, thus eliminating the need to go to the police and other agencies and revive the trauma. Since 2015, a number of states, such as Cyprus, Denmark, Lithuania and Sweden have adopted this model, and many more are considering doing so.

In March 2017, an urgent monitoring round on the risks of sexual exploitation and abuse of children affected by the refugee crisis was completed. Practical measures recommended by the report include screening children for signs of exploitation, ensuring that their rights are explained to them, and equipping safe reception centers for them.

In June 2017, a new monitoring round focusing on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse facilitated by information and communication technologies was launched. Based on the replies by Parties to a detailed questionnaire and comments on such replies by civil society, the Lanzarote Committee will examine the situation in 2018-2019.

“We have come far in the last ten years, but there is further to go,” Battaini-Dragoni said. “Every child who can be spared the terrible experience is worth every effort we make”.

WHO issues new guidelines on treating with
child sex abuse

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued new guidelines on treating with children and adolescents who were victims of sexual assault or rape.

In a report issued October 19, WHO said for the first time guidelines have been published to assist front-line healthcare providers give high-quality, compassionate, and respectful care to children and adolescents (up to age 18) who have or may have experienced sexual abuse, including sexual assault or rape.

WHO said a 2011 study estimates that 18 percent of girls and 8 percent of boys worldwide have experienced sexual abuse, which is a major health problem and a violation of human rights.

The guidelines recommend that healthcare providers put the best interests of children and adolescents first by ensuring confidentiality and privacy, respecting their autonomy and wishes, and addressing the needs of boys and girls with vulnerabilities such as LGBTI adolescents.

WHO says victims of sexual abuse face being diagnosed with long-term post-traumatic stress disorder and are more likely to engage in unsafe sex, drug and alcohol abuse, placing them at higher risk for sexually transmitted diseases. For girls, there is also the increased risk of pregnancy and gynaecological disorders.

Health care providers are recommended to do the following when treating with child and adolescent victims of sexual abuse and rape:

1. Provide first line support that is child or adolescent-centred and gender sensitive in response to disclosure of sexual abuse.

2. Offer HIV post-exposure prophylaxis and adherence support to those who have been raped and who present within 72 hours.

3. Offer emergency contraception to girls who have been raped and who present within 120 hours/ 5 days.

4. Consider STI presumptive treatment or prophylaxis in settings where laboratory testing is not feasible.

5. Consider cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a trauma focus for those have PTSD symptoms and diagnosis and, where safe and appropriate to do so, involve at least 1 non-offending caregiver.

6. Offer Hepatitis B and HPV vaccination as per national guidance .

7. Where required to report child sexual abuse to designated authorities, health care providers should inform the child or adolescent and their non-offending caregivers about the obligation to report the abuse and the limits of confidentiality before interviewing them.

8. Where required to report child sexual abuse to designated authorities, health care providers should inform the child or adolescent and their non-offending caregivers about the obligation to report the abuse and the limits of confidentiality before interviewing them.

WHO adds that health-care providers should seek to minimize additional trauma and distress for children and adolescents who disclose sexual abuse.

For the full report see here: http://bit.ly/2hbelJl

Sex education not optional Cyprus AG rules
By Evie Andreou

The attorney-general has ruled that parents should have no say as to the content of sexual education modules taught in state schools, nor do they have the right to request that their children be exempt, an education ministry official has said.

Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Leda Koursoumba

The ministry requested the opinion of the attorney-general earlier in the year after more than 150 parents sent, through a lawyer, a joint letter to Education Minister Costas Kadis, asking whether they should have the right to exclude their children from class during sex education if they consider that this is against their religious or philosophical beliefs.

Parents also asked whether they had a say as to the way of teaching of sex education or the content of the programme.

Following this letter, the education ministry sought advice from the attorney-general and the Commissioner for Children’s Rights.

Both authorities ruled that this was not possible.

“According to the attorney-general’s ruling, parents have no right by the law to express their opinion either on the way sexual education is being taught nor on the material,” an official of the education ministry said.

She also said that there is no law provision to oblige the school to take permission from parents or guardians for teaching sex education to children.

Sex education, the ruling said, is no different than any other subject on the school curriculum for which sole responsibility of choosing is that of the education ministry.

Costas J. Clerides (born 1952) is the attorney general of Cyprus since 2013

This seems like a hard-line to take for the AG but he is looking at the current law, it appears, and not what is necessarily a democratic right. Parents should have some input in what is being taught. It would be up to the law makers or ministers to allow that to happen.

As to the right to remove their children from such classes, this would work to the advantage of pedophiles within the home who don't want to be 'outed'. The majority of child sex abuse happens in or near the home, so opting out should never be an option except if there is teaching about the 'normalcy' of homosexuality or transgenderism.

Sexual education is being taught in state schools – primary and secondary education – since 2011. It is taught as a module in the subjects of health education in primary schools, in home economics in high schools and family education in lyceums.

But the commissioner for Children’s Rights, Leda Koursoumba, also said that the exclusion of  children from sexual education programmes in schools would be a violation of their rights.

Koursoumba had said that adjusted sexual education, which would be integrated across the whole range of the curriculum, even from pre-school age, serves and safeguards the child’s interests.  The exemption of any child from sexual education programmes due to parental interventions would be contrary to the child’s interests.

According to the education ministry, sex education in schools aims at ensuring the health of children and it is also a measure against child sexual abuse and exploitation.

“Sexual education in primary school deals with teaching children their body, which parts are private and what is a good or a bad touch,” the official said. She added that children are also taught who they can talk to in the case they experience behaviour that makes them feel uncomfortable.

In high schools and lyceums sexual education includes family planning and sexual and reproductive health.

The official refuted claims that sexual education encourages children to be sexually active earlier in life. “On the contrary, research showed that when they receive timely information, children protect more their selves, while unwanted pregnancies are prevented,” the official said.

“We want the children to take informed decisions for their lives,” she said.

The European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (Enoc) called on governments last month to ensure children’s right to Comprehensive Relationship and Sexuality Education (CRSE).

Enoc said that schools must have mandatory, consistent, systematic plans and content based on the needs of children, as CRSE provides extensive support for the development and growth of children and young people.

New Child Rights Laws working in Abu Dhabi

There has been a significant decrease in juvenile crimes and a rise in reports of child abuse in Abu Dhabi since the introduction of the Child Rights Law - popularly known as the Wadeema law - last year, according to judicial authorities.

The Abu Dhabi Family Prosecution said juvenile crimes constituted 36 per cent of the total cases they received in 2016, which was lower compared to the 43 per cent recorded in 2015.

Reports of children being abused rose from 4 per cent in 2015 to 9 per cent in 2016.

Authorities have attributed the positive change in the figures to the tougher punishments through the new law, increased awareness on child rights and the need by parents to take good care of children, through awareness campaigns and workshops.

Intuitively, it is odd that an increase in reports of children being abused would be considered a positive, but, in fact, it is not an indication that more children are being abused, but rather, that more of it is being reported to authorities.

During the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department's monthly meeting titled 'Towards a stable family and a safe child' recently, Alia Mohammed Al Kaabi, head of family and child prosecution, said that the introduction of the child rights law has contributed a lot to child protection efforts. This has resulted in more reports filed about children being abused and a decrease in juvenile crimes.

The new law was put into effect in June 2016, to protect children from abuse and neglect and support their right to safety, shelter, health care and education. Anyone who breaks the law faces a fine of up to Dh50,000, and up to 10 years in prison for physical/sexual abuse or criminal negligence of children.  "The new legislation has helped in providing more protection to children," said Al Kaabi.

"Previously, there were no legal sections that allowed for criminalising and prosecuting certain behaviours such as neglect towards children, or laws that safeguarded the rights of children who had been physically abused by their parents."

She said more child abuse cases have been reported to the child affairs prosecution offices since the new law was introduced last year, and authorities have dealt with people mistreating children. "People who witness a child being abused and fail to report it are prosecuted under the new child rights law," said Al Kaabi.

"It is good that people seeing children being mistreated by their parents, guardians or other persons report them to authorities, for the protection of the abused child and also to avoid legal action on their part."

The official noted that the establishment of a child affairs prosecution in Abu Dhabi last year, which investigates and deals with cases involving children, has also led to the increase in people reporting parents or guardians abusing or mistreating children.

Three child prosecution offices have been established across Abu Dhabi.

According to authorities, the child affairs prosecution responsibilities include dealing with all forms of child abuse, whether physical assaults, verbal insults, emotional or mental and whether intentionally or due the neglect of their parents, caretakers or those in their surroundings.

Social workers are also available at the child prosecution offices to offer assistance and investigate cases that involve children.

The child affairs prosecution also holds children who have committed offences under the juvenile law accountable. Previously, such cases were dealt with by the family prosecution court.

Crimes against children are unpardonable offences. The criminal justice system has taken cognizance of cases of sexual assault and abuse against children by framing tougher laws. Offenders will face its full force, the primary reason why cases have fallen. We are all responsible for protecting children. Don't remain silent when you suspect something is amiss with your child, any child. Speak up.

Children cannot speak up for themselves - they are voiceless. We adults much speak for them.

Northern Mariana Islands builds Youth Services capacity through forensic interview training

The Division of Youth Services recently completed forensic interview certification to build the CNMI’s (Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands) capacity to address child abuse, neglect, and related youth protection services.

The five-day training was provided by the First Witness Child Advocacy Center from Duluth, Minnesota.

First Witness Child Advocacy adopts the approach that is child-centered, especially when dealing with victims of child sexual and physical abuse and allowing them to safely tell their story. FWCA provides child appropriate forensic interview techniques, crisis counseling to children and families, and age appropriate education on personal body safety for children.

“Our personnel went through multiple content areas with FWCA, including the dynamics in child abuse, process of disclosure, child development, questioning children, child-first forensic interview protocol, anatomical dolls, preparing kids for court, testifying in court, hearsay and working with multi-disciplinary teams,” said DYS administrator Vivian Sablan.

The highlight of the five-day training was the exercise that involved role-playing and interviews with a trained actor portraying a child with abuse in their history, said Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter.

“DYS is pivotal in addressing the needs of the family and our children. Efforts to detect and deal with these issues effectively and appropriately are important. This service will go a long way in meeting the diverse and often complex-ridden and multi-faceted problems and needs of our community. I am proud that we now have 12 DCCA Division of Youth Services staff who are fully certified forensic interviewers, with one on Tinian and two on Rota as well as two staff of the CNMI Attorney General’s Office and one from the Department of Public Safety. This increased capacity and collaboration will help us better assist our community,” Hunter said.

DYS, as the lead agency that responds to child abuse and neglect and having the only pool of trained and certified forensic interviewers throughout the CNMI, works closely with the Department of Public Safety in conducting forensic interviews for alleged victims of various forms of maltreatment.

“From dealing with cases such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, and domestic violence, DYS is averaging about eight forensic interviews a month. These reports are used in court as evidence during trials and are a key part of the child advocacy and protection process,” Sablan said.

Acting governor Victor B. Hocog said that DYS is responsible for reducing and, when possible, eradicating child abuse and neglect.

“Building our capacity and skills to address these social issues brings together our vision of addressing generational and social ills. The success of our youth is reflective of the success of the approaches we apply and our continued priorities. Gov. [Ralph DLG] Torres and I extend my gratitude to the hardworking staff, counselors, and case workers who work closely with our youth in the Commonwealth, and concurrently address the related social problems plaguing families who need the most help,” Hocog said. (PR)

Guam archdiocese adopts more stringent
child protection policies
Catholic News Agency

HAGATNA, Guam - The Archdiocese of Agaña last week adopted a new policy on child protection, following a child sex abuse scandal which has implicated the former archbishop and other clerics.

The recently-installed Coadjutor Archbishop of Agaña, Michael Byrnes, adopted the children protection policy Oct. 18, along with a safe environment program and a policy for an independent review board.

These policies “will help to instigate a change of culture in our Archdiocese,” Byrnes wrote. “We must now exercise the will, the effort, and the expense to implement completely the provisions set forth. Safe environments for our children must become a reality in our midst.”

Byrnes was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Agaña in October 2016 to replace Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who had been relieved of his pastoral and administrative authority in June 2016 after allegations surfaced that he had sexually abused minors. The Archdiocese of Agaña serves Catholics in Guam, a U.S. island territory in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.

Apuron, who is a member of the Neocatechumenal Way, has also been acused of failing to implement strong policies on the handling of clerical sex abuse. He has denied all allegations against him.

Guam’s lawmakers retroactively eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits involving child sexual abuse in September 2016, and the Agaña archdiocese is now a defendant in 96 lawsuits concerning claims from 1955 to 1994. In addition to Apuron, 13 priests, a Catholic schoolteacher, a Catholic school janitor, and a Boy Scout leader have been accused of misconduct.

Byrnes had adopted the U.S. bishops’ conference’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its essential norms on dealing with allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clerics in February.

The new policies were recommended to Byrnes by an independent review board, and are meant to implement fully the broad policy statements of the U.S. bishops’ conference norms and charter.

“The reason we felt we needed to develop a new policy, part of it was just the inadequacy of the prior policy … also when we decided to adopt the charter, it meant more than just a simple sexual abuse policy,” Byrnes said Oct. 24 at a press conference announcing the new policies.

The policies will require background checks and more rigorous prevention training.

Developed by Virtus Online, the training courses will be mandatory for an estimated 500 to 800 adults who work with children.

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