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I'm going to speak about the basic functions of the Child Protection Office.
Protection Discussion at GBC Meeting
(Mayapur, India) - February 9, 2001: The GBC Body met today to hear a
presentation by Dhira Govinda Prabhu, AKA Dr. David Wolf, about child
abuse. Speaking before an audience of approximately 100, it was part of an
ongoing GBC program to increase awareness of child abuse issues and
prevention. He also presented several educational videos on abuse in
churches/temples, and among congregational members.
going to speak about the basic functions of the Child Protection
Office," he began.
1997 the GBC established the Child Protection Taskforce. This taskforce
outlined a plan for dealing with child protection issues of the past with
a view of establishing a healthy future for the Movement. A central office
for child protection was established in 1998.
its inception, the ISKCON Central Office of Child Protection (CPO)
implemented a system for investigating all allegations of abuse, past or
present. Dhira Govinda said that professionals such as counselors, child
psychologists and government officials have reviewed and given favorable
critiques of the ISKCON CPO system.
CPO is meant to compliment existing government systems. Commenting on the
procedure for reporting suspected child abuse, Dhira Govinda said,
"Learn and follow the local law. The purpose of the child protection
office is not to replace local legal agencies, but to work in
reported that another function of the child protection office is outreach
and to establish proper screening methods for those who work in ISKCON
temples and affiliated schools. Application forms, interviews, internal
background checks, and law enforcement background checks are critical.
as well as adults should be trained in abuse prevention. Dhira Govinda
said that since it is Kali-yuga, persons with ill intentions may come to
our temples. He made the point that having children trained in abuse
prevention and having child protection teams in place will serve as strong
the brief rundown on the activity of the office, Dhira Govinda conducted a
lively question and answer session.
45-minute educational video on abuse followed. Many were surprised by the
statistics offered on the video. In North America, for example, 1 of 3
girls and 1 of 7 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18.
"Child abuse is an epidemic in modern society," commented one
minister from Los Angeles.
from India informed the group about the just released book "Bitter
Chocolate." The book documents wide spread child abuse in India and
is creating a public outcry. Until recently, abuse in India has not been
openly addressed. The book documents widespread abuse across social,
religious and economic stratum.
GBCs broke for lunch at 1 PM and returned at 3:30 PM. (Each meeting day is
divided into two formal 3 hour sessions.)
the afternoon session, Dhira Govinda introduced Vedasara Prabhu, a
24-year-old who grew up in the Mayapur Gurukula system. He now works with
the ISKCON Central Office of Child Protection and is the principal of the
introduced a group of Mayapur Gurukula students who are graduating from
the Gurukula this year. All of them reported favorable experiences in the
Gurukula, and were thankful of their time spent in the school. They looked
forward to the future service they hope to render to the Hare Krishna
second video presentation followed concerning a Christian Community that
struggled to establish an abuse education curriculum for their Sunday
school students. A final video discussed the positive ways a church can
implement child protection programs. The video suggested four central
elements of a prevention plan: (1) screening of workers and volunteers,
(2) supervision of workers (the rule of three is that there should be at
least two adults present with any child), (3) reporting policies, and
finally (4) a response plan.
interested in learning how to obtain copies of these videos and other
educational material are urged to contact:
Govinda dasa ISKCON Central Office of Child Protection P.O. Box 1438
Alachua, Florida 32616-1438 Tel: 904-418-0882 FAX: 904-418-0982 Email:
from different countries discussed their positive experiences in utilizing
the resources of local government and social welfare agencies. Dhira
Govinda pointed out that abuse prevention is an ongoing process. Where in
the past ISKCON communities may have been vulnerable to abuse in our
ashrama schools, today we are more likely to have allegations of abuse
arise from within our congregations. Thus all ISKCON temples, like any
church or synagogue, should assure that the precautions outlined above are
members and guests expressed appreciation for the ongoing efforts of the
ISKCON Office of Child Protection, and of the informative presentation by
Dhira Govinda Prabhu.
© CHAKRA 10 February 2001
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