JERUSALEM - On Wednesday, September 22, 2021, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem organized a training day for its employees entitled “Safeguarding in Catholic Institutions”, in coordination with the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, which was held at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem.
Mr. Rafiq Said, Safeguarding Coordinator at the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries, presented this training day which came as part of the courses organized by the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries in 50 Catholic institutions in the Holy Land, with the aim of spreading awareness in the areas of violence, harassment and sexual exploitation, especially for vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly, to ensure that Catholic institutions are free from these rampant phenomena, and that everyone who works in these institutions knows the role that falls upon him or her, as an active member of the institution.
The first section of the training focused on ways to protect children in Christian institutions, by presenting 8 points that contribute to protecting children from harassment, exploitation and violence of all kinds in schools, clubs and during camps. These include monitoring children, paying attention to their physical and psychological health, and taking all preventive measures to ensure the safety of the activities organised for them.
This section also included 21 points that contribute to the individual’s awareness of his rights, such as the right to choose and refuse, the right to express opinions freely and without fear, the right to set personal boundaries in relationships with others, the right to seek help, among others.
The second section on the other hand focused on the issue of violence in its various forms, physical, psychological, sexual, exploitative and neglectful, and the deprivation of basic needs, intentionally or unintentionally, while putting attention on ways to identify forms of violence, and signs that may help in detecting cases of violence.
The attendees also participated in interactive activities and discussion panels that dealt with various case studies, in an attempt to find solutions to issues closely related to violence and exploitation in all their forms.
During the last section, Mr. Rafiq presented the latest statistics of violence, harassment and exploitation in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. At the end of the meeting, questionnaires were distributed to examine the views of the participants on the importance of safeguarding and their awareness of it prior to and after the training.
It is worth noting that the universal interest of organizations in the issue of safeguarding began in 2015. On February 24, 2019, at the conclusion of the meeting held in the Vatican on “The Protection of Minors in the Church”, His Holiness Pope Francis said: “I make a heartfelt appeal for an-all-out battle against the abuse of minors both sexually and in other areas, on the part of all authorities and individuals, for we are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth: this is demanded by all the many victims hidden in families and in the various settings of our societies”.