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Religious bodies must have child protection polices

Religious bodies especially Churches must develop “Child Protection Policy,” which will ensure that they take-up the responsibility to protect children against all forms of abuses in their institutions.

The Reverend Ebenezer Tetteh Kpalam, Clinical Psychologist and Pastor at the Church of Pentecost, Tema told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that Religious Child Protection Policy would ensure that children are protected.

He said such a policy would also feed into the general national ambition to reduce incidents of child abuse in Ghana.

Rev Kpalam who is also the author of the “Our Children, the place of child protection in the church’s ministry” said it is a biblical and civic responsibility for religious bodies to protect children against abuses such as physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.

He noted that such child protection policies in the church must define what constitute abuse, how to identify one, how to handle issues of abuse, and which institutions to report incidents to.

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He said this would be in accordance with Ghana’s new Child and Family Welfare Policy, as well as the Children’s Act which enjoins institutions acting on behalf of children to properly safeguard the safety of children.

“There must be a strong collaboration between the churches and state institutions tasked with child protection such as DOVVSU, Social Welfare and other NGOs to ensure the total protection of children,” he said.

He described as worrying statistics from United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund’s (UNICEF) Child Protection Guidelines for Health Workers 2018, which revealed that over 90 per cent of children in Ghana had suffered some form of abuse in their lives.

Rev. Kpalam observed that church history showed that child protection began with faith communities’ way before organizations such as UNICEF took over.

He however regretted that in recent times most churches had neglected that part of their ministry as they believed it was the responsibility of government to protect children.

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The Clinical Psychologist called for churches to research into child abuse in the communities they worship in to help identify such abuses early and link them to the right intuitions for help.

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