With the annual World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse coming up on Nov. 19, the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Children’s Ministries department hopes to bring awareness to a problem that affects Adventist congregations.
“In our churches [people] don’t feel comfortable actually talking about abuse. ... But children are facing problems we feel that members need to be aware of,” says Linda Koh, Children’s Ministries director for the world church.
“I suppose in our minds it’s against our principles. If you are Christian, you don’t do such things. So if all of us are Christians, it doesn’t happen in the church. So it’s hard to believe that a [Christian] parent does that or an [pastor] does that,” Koh says.
“At first we don’t admit there are problems. But we’re beginning to find there are quite a bit more ... even within the Adventist Church. Maybe not as large a number as we find in world statistics, but it is creeping into the church and we need to help our members be aware of it.”
Koh is excited about the opportunity the church has in acknowledging this day. She says she is planning programs for parents that should reach all levels of the church.
Koh is encouraged by one program that has been successful in the Philippines for the past four years. She explains that a group of church members go to a center for children and give literacy programs, food, and even vacation Bible school classes “to reach out to these kids ... plus to educate parents.”
In some cultures, Koh explains, child abuse can mean making a child of five or six years old work. “It’s something they do as part of life. They don’t look at it as abuse. When you’re poor, you make sure everybody goes to work. ... It’s something they practice as part of survival. ... Sometimes we have to battle between this fine line” of child welfare and family survival.
Other forms of child abuse include sexual abuse, emotional abuse and physical abuse. Koh also says that not allowing kids free access to education can be abuse.
The Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF)officially started World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse in 2000. In 2001, WWSF launched an international NGO coalition that marks the day with events and activities that call for prevention education.