Safeguarding and the Church’s Commitment to the Culture of Safety.

By: Fr Nkomo

There are four elements for consideration in any reflection on safeguarding;

  • Protection from abuse and maltreatment; protection implies that there has been abuse that has take place and measures are to be put in place to stop it and make perpetrator to account for their abusive behaviour.
  • Prevention of harm to children’s health or development – here the goal is to prevent abuse from occurring in the first place. No abuse has occurred but there are signs that point to the possibility of abuse, hence measures have to put in place to prevent it from occurring. Policies, programs and codes of conduct.
  • Ensuring that children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care – here we consider the undoubtable role of parents or the government to provide safe environments for their children to grow.
  • Taking action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes of their lives.

The dignity of the person as “created in the image and likeness of God” (Genesis 1:27) is undoubtedly at the centre of any safeguarding intervention, therefore any efforts to protect, prevent, ensure and act should first acknowledge the person and their dignity at the centre of the mission.

Key elements to consider before any intervention are:

  1. The types of abuse we are dealing with ranging from; physical, emotional, sexual, financial, spiritual, conscience and neglect.
  2. The success of this work cannot be achieved without the involvement of other key agencies already active in the mission to protect children and prevent abuse such as; police, children’s social care services, health services, local authorities.
  3. The legislation that underpins safeguarding should also be considered as important;
  • the UN charter for the rights of the Child,
  • the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child,
  • Section 29, 30 of the Constitution of Swaziland,
  • The Child Protection and Welfare act of 2012 and
  • The Sexual offences and domestic violence act of 2018.
  • The Church legislation remains the Code of Canon Law, apostolic letter “Like a loving mother” (2016) Vox estis lux mundi.

The Church’s commitment therefore remains working together;

  • to prioritize safety and well-being of children and adults within a culture of prevention of harm,
  • to provide a just and compassionate response respecting the dignity of all involved,
  • to act with integrity and accountability in compliance with law and policy,
  • to work and communicate effectively with all relevant people and agencies and
  • To ensure a committed and consistent leadership in the Church.

The safeguarding scope and activity should always remain transparent and visible to all who would like to utilize it and the church should ensure that referral channels are clear and accessible.