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Church encourages child abuse prevention

Church encourages congregations to reach out to communities and help prevent child abuse

New Zealand used to be known as a great place to bring up kids. Sadly, it's now near the bottom of the class of developed nations when it comes to our children's wellbeing.

To help counter this alarming trend the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand is asking its 419 parishes to do what they can in their churches and communities to prevent child abuse and to act quickly if abuse is suspected.

Presbyterian Church Moderator the Rt Rev Pamela Tankersley says there is no overall data on child abuse but just looking at Child Youth and Family notifications alone is disturbing. "In the year to June 2007, CYF received 75,326 notifications, 62 percent of which required further action.

"We have seen in the media horrific recent cases of child abuse and it would be easy to become despondent and think there's little the individual can do. The Church has responded by creating a 34 page booklet aimed at empowering people to help children who are experiencing trauma, abuse, violence and neglect.

"It's not a political manifesto or a parenting manual," Pamela explains. "It's designed to raise awareness of what's happening to our children and provide the tools for an effective response. As the family of God, the Church has a responsibility to protect and serve the vulnerable, including children.

Pamela says the Church hasn't fudged the hard issues, such as the smacking debate. "We have addressed the question of discipline in a balanced way."

The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand is committed to advocating for children. The Church runs successful programmes for children and their communities at its 65 Kids Friendly churches and at the 41 churches that are working to becoming Kids Friendly. Last year the Presbyterian Church, through The Presbyterian Foundation, gave $92,000 in grants to community programmes for children and young people.

The 32 page booklet "Caring for our Children" is available free from the Presbyterian Church or it can be downloaded from its website http://www.presbyterian.org.nz/4608.0.html


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