Chakra Discussions

Child Protection Website

by Gaurav Mittal

Posted March 3, 2012

In early 2000s, I proposed to develop an official child protection website to provide information about adjudicated and ongoing child abuse cases. I discussed this idea with Tamohara Das (CPO Director), Romapada Swami, Hanumat-presak Swami and other leaders but they did not show any interest.

ISKCON is a volunteer-based organization. Most people work for free as service to Krishna. Even if some people are paid for services, then the pay is quite minimal. In these conditions it is difficult to enforce a systematic child protection program. ISKCON cannot act as police and cannot stop offenders to visit temples, give lectures or lead kirtans. Even if CPO bans an offender from ISKCON, the CPO does not have power and resources to implement their decision in all temples. But CPO can provide education and information to all ISKCON members so that the members have the opportunity to protect themselves and people around them.

There should be an official website providing information about offenders like the US's sex offender directory. Temples and centers should provide this website to all members so that concerned members are aware of offenders and CPO investigations.

This CPO website should have a section about the cases which have been adjudicated. It should also post all the victims' allegations if victims allowed CPO to share them in public forum. It should also provide the defendant's arguments and the CPO's judgment.

There should be a section in this website for cases that have not been resolved. The allegations pertaining to these cases should still be posted for the sake of awareness with a disclaimer that these allegations can be false and are not verified.

With awareness from this website ISKCON members will be able to enforce CPO decisions and take right action. The problem of not having such information available to all ISKCON members has allowed offenders in the past to easily break CPO directives. For example, there have been many occasions where child offenders have broken CPO directives and given class or lead kirtans even though they were banned from doing so. If the audience was made aware of CPO directives then they would have surely opposed offenders and forced temple leadership to follow CPO directives.

It is important to post information about the allegations along with CPO decisions or directives. In the past there have been cases when CPO has shown leniency towards offenders. If ISKCON members are provided with complete information about abuse cases then the members can make informed decisions about associating with such offenders.

Developing this official website will be a good step to prevent child abuse.

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