Recently, our team in the Amazon sat down and began laying the foundation for curriculum and training that will address issues of child abuse in the Amazon. As we work along the Amazon river, we have seen an incredible need for more resources around protecting children from all kinds of abuse.
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Child Development Manager, Anny Fernandes:
We still don’t have research that gives us concrete numbers of children and adolescents who have suffered this type of violence. However, organizations that work with this population claim that the state of Amazonas is among the highest places in the ranking of sexual abuse in Brazil. And with only 10% of cases reported, silence and vulnerability are perpetuated, because it is relatives or close friends of the family who are the main abusers (80% of cases).
As soon as we started the conversation about child protection at our Jungle Pastors’ Conferences, we became aware of the stories of abuse close to us. Missionaries and friends we have admired and served with shared the pain of being victims of sexual abuse as children. In addition to the stories of children that went through abuse, we also became aware of a gap in education for leaders regarding how to care for victims of abuse.
As an organization, we have begun to take important steps toward protecting children more effectively. We are learning together about children and violence, and the final result of four precious meetings will be the writing of our own protection policy, a document that will guide how Justice and Mercy Amazon sees children and how we will deal with them. This document will detail all the measures that will guide all interactions with children by partnering with churches, schools, communities, volunteers, and mission teams. Our prayer is that this policy will help combat any act of violence against children, as well as growing the culture of child protection in the state of Amazonas. Only God can guide these big steps, and help us serve and protect children, wherever the river runs!