Seminar on 'Sexual Abuse of Children'
28 March 2012 Zagreb, Croatia [Tunde Torma, tedNEWS] A seminar on the topic ‘Sexual Abuse of Children’, organised by Children and Youth Department of Adriatic Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was held in Zagreb, Croatia on 18 March 2012. The seminar was organised for teachers and others that are involved in work with children.
The seminar was held in two parts where two extinguished professionals in this field, professor Gordana Buljan-Flander, principal at Children’s protection polyclinic in Zagren, and Ms Slavica Marčeta, who specialised in the therapy for sexual abusers spoke about this not so pleasant topic.
Prof. Buljan-Flander, who took part in the first half of the seminar, was one of the first who dedicated her professional career in helping abused children in Croatia the early 90s. As a result, she was a founder of maltreated and neglected children’s help line ‘The brave phone’ and later on Children’s protection polyclinic in Zagreb that is now recognised by the European Council as a model for good practice and was also presented to the UN.
Working as a children psychologist at the clinic, Buljan-Flander often got in contact with maltreated and neglected children who did not have any protection from adults, which she presented in a half-hour documentary film. Drawing many examples from the lives of the victims of abuse, she has explained what sexual abuse is, what are the indications of recognising an abused victim, prevention of sexual abuse, as well as juridical circumstances in Croatia regarding children’s abuse.
The second part of the seminar covered the topic of abusers, their typology and recognition of the same. Ms Marčeta, having won a master’s degree in this field, analysed this problem within the context of church environment and she emphasised: ‘We shouldn’t delude ourselves and live in a conviction that in our churches there are no sexual abusers; it’s just that it is very difficult to recognise them as they behave and live as ordinarily as everybody else.’ She also stressed the importance of educating children of the norms of behaviour and body privacy.
Even though it was hard to talk about this sensitive topic, it was an eye-opener for about forty teachers present at the seminar who greatly valued the professional insight into the matter.
We believe that God’s will is to protect the weak and helpless because God’s word bid us to do that and helping children and the families affected by sexual abuse is following this command to the full.
For more awareness of the abuse in Christian environment, all the participants were given material ‘Even in God’s name’, a short dissertation on children’s sexual abuse in Christian families, published by Trans-European Division of the Seventh-day Adventists. [tedNEWS]
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