By Elizabeth Minutello, Challenge the Gap correspondent
For many individuals and their families, their religious, spiritual, and cultural beliefs and practices provide structure and a positive moral foundation in which to conduct their lives. However, others use these same ideologies to justify child maltreatment. Our current Challenge the Gap beneficiary, Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP), works to educate the public and faith leaders regarding child maltreatment and protect children in all faith traditions.
In 2013, CFFP launched their first conference. Speakers from various fields including religious education, social work, and law enforcement spoke about how to better protect children from abuse and neglect. Some of the speakers present were survivors of ideologically driven abuse. Videos of presentations are available online.
CFFP is looking for speakers, volunteers, and others interested in helping them with CFFP Conference 2014. Any inquiries can be sent via email.
It was also at CFFP Conference 2013 that the organization unveiled its Charter for Child-Friendly Faith. As described by Reverend Dr. Carla Cheatham, this is a “document we can all come around the table to discuss.” Designed as part of a long-term effort to build trust, respect, and an open dialogue among individuals of different belief systems, the charter is based on principles that most can agree upon. Among some of these principles are:
Children are important and unique individuals and should be valued and honored for the persons that they are.
Children have a right to grow up in an environment that is safe and promotes healthy development.
Faith communities should take advantage of services offered by secular agencies designed to protect children from abuse, become familiar with child abuse laws, and develop protocols that minimize the potential for child maltreatment.