24 May 2018 | The Adventist Church in Jamaica is planning to release a child protection policy manual for use in the denomination’s churches, schools and institutions. A key focus of the manual will be the screening of volunteers and workers who work with children. Plans are for the document to be released before the end of the year.

The Jamaica Observer quotes children’s advocate Betty-Ann Blaine as saying “the church is an easy target for sexual predators because they believe church people are naïve. They know that church members are still saying it can’t happen in our churches and some are resistant to change and don’t believe churches should do background checks, or even develop a CPP (Child Protection Policy.)”

The denomination launched the “Year of Child and Adolescent” last month.

“We must break the silence about all types of abuse and report them, even if the perpetrator is a relative, pastor or community leader,” said Dr. Lorraine Vernal, the family, women, child and adolescent director of the Jamaica Union Conference in a press release.

“We take seriously our responsibility to minimise the risk of child sexual abuse and violence against children in the congregational setting. As leaders we must see attacks on our children as evil and so we must live ethically and pay attention to making our churches and other institutions safe places for the young,” she said.

The Jamaica Observer reported that the denomination recently hosted child protection training for more than 50 leaders from Adventist conferences, churches and schools. The training was designed to implement both Jamaican Law as it relates to child protection and Adventist Risk Management policies.

The move was praised by Audrey Budhi, Jamaica’s director of children and family programs at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency. Budhi called for a return “to the days when the church was the main part of raising a child. We need to go back and take back our communities and villages. Our aim is to help build a Jamaica fit for children and the church family and community are integral in this regard…”

One of the key goals for the Adventist Church, according to its press release, is for individuals involved with children to go through screening and training activities designed by both the denomination and the government.

In the statement, the Adventist Church claimed to expect a reduce in child abuse and an increase in child protection as a result of the coming year’s efforts.

According to the Adventist denomination’s Office of Archives Statistics and Research, the Adventist Church in Jamaica has 304,021 members and 683 churches.

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