Chakra Discussions

The Need for Child Protection Teams

by Tamohara das - Director, ISKCON Central Office of Child Protection

Posted September 10, 2005

I was very pleased to see the recent article by Madhava das, that called for the establishment of child protection teams at every temple. The Child Protection Office agrees that this should be the number one priority in our international efforts to rid our Society of child abuse. An effective local child protection team is our critical first line of defense in child protection. Trained team members work to prevent abuse, and are also prepared to quickly and professionally deal with abuse, should it occur. Team members learn how and when to report to legal authorities, how to give aid to victims and families, and how to interact with the Child Protection Office to deal with the abusers. More information can be found on the CPO website.

It has been ISKCON law, established since 1991, that every temple and school must have a functioning child protection team. Unfortunately, there are parts of the world where these teams do not exist, or have become inactive and largely forgotten. As Madhava Prabhu suggested, developing and maintaining these teams is the responsibility of the both temple managers, and the local GBC representative.

A recent encouraging development has been a strong push from the North American GBC to ensure that every temple has a team in place. In the last three months, I have received the names and contacts from most of the temples in North America. Many of these teams have been re-vitalized, re-formed, or, in some cases newly formed. I have contacted most of these teams and I am involved in getting them materials and offering training. I would like to thank those who have pushed this to happen, and particularly the leadership of Romapada Swami.

In answer to the question of the relationship between the CPO and the GBC, I can honestly say that in the year that I have been doing this service, I have seen much progress, and strong support from the GBC. It is certainly true that child protection awareness and support for the CPO efforts is somewhat uneven – it varies in different parts of the world.

What every devotee can do is this – inquire at your local temple about its child protection team. If they don’t have one, help start one! For any questions, concerns, or assistance, please contact me at: tamohara@yahoo.com