Chakra Discussions

Child protection must be paramount

by Visnupriya dasi

Posted November 14, 2003

In Sri Prahlad's reply regarding Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami's involvement in the Bhaktivedanta Academy, he failed to grasp the basic fundamentals of the issues at hand. We all now have a better understanding of the administrative structure of the Academy, as well as an overall guideline of who was involved in the decision to give the okay of BVPS being involved, employed or an active well-wisher at the school. However, Sri Prahlad, and I am sure many others, fail to take into account the basic principle of child protection.

Devahotra summed it up quite nicely: "There must be no place for sannyasis or leaders or teachers to work with or have anything to do with children if they actually or complicitly abused or tolerated the mistreatment of children, physically, sexually or psychologically."

Within ISKCON there are so many ways in which a devotee can serve Krsna. Why does Maharaja implicitly have to be engaged with children? Why can't another service within his vast capabilities be accomodated that does not pose any type of a risk to children?

As an administrator at the school, I am sure Sri Prahlad would have to make informed judgment calls either by himself or with others in regards to the children's welfare. To accommodate any devotee's propensity in service for either historic or personal reasons, with the judgment call putting our children, other's children or a whole community of children at risk is not a decision Srila Prabhupada or Krsna would appreciate in the name of Bhakti.

The rationale that the community, the parents and the administrators -- both locally and within the child-protection agency -- all feel that it is okay to put these children at risk only goes to show how big a crisis we have with child-protection in Mayapur -- and in other centres, if they too are using this same rationale.

Just because you can quote, or say you have the okay of, certain devotee authorities does not mean it is a responsible act nor socially or ethically acceptable to put children at risk in the name of Krsna consciousness, regardless of who that devotee may be whom we are trying to engage.