Rome – As the world commemorated the first World Day of the Prevention of, and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Violence on Friday, November 18th, simultaneous events marking this occasion took place in Rome. Colleen Crawford, Manager of FADICA’s and Safeguarding Initiative, was on the ground to witness this historic gathering.
“It was such a privilege to represent FADICA during these commemorative meetings in Rome,” Crawford said, “to participate in solidarity as a witness to the courage and strength of survivors was profound.”
Inspired by the witness and dedication of Fatima Maada Bio, First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Jennifer Wortham of the Global Collaborative, on November 7th, 2022, the United Nations formally passed a resolution enshrining November 18th as the new “World Day.” Over 110 member states cosponsored the resolution.
Behind the efforts to adopt the World Day was Dr. Jennifer Wortham, founder of the Global Collaborative – a survivor led network of child advocacy organizations, survivor networks, academic and faith-based institutions, and governments committed to ending child sexual abuse and supporting survivors in their healing.
“The adoption of a new “World Day” enhances recognition that the tragedy of sexual abuse occurs in all venues where children are present, including on-line, and in the home across the world; identifies opportunities for collaboration and progress towards preventing further harm to children; fosters recognition of the long-term consequences to the victim’s health and wellbeing; and brings the issue to the forefront of international dialogue,” summarized Dr. Wortham.
“The World Day provides a forum for organizations to come together to collaborate on key strategies for addressing this critical public health crisis. This was an important and monumental step by the UN – and it signifies that there is more work to be done,” Wortham acknowledged, “the work of safeguarding must infuse the ethos of our organizations, and the people whom we serve.”
Attending the two-day event in Rome, Crawford was quick to highlight the ecumenical nature of the gathering. “It was inspiring to see people of all faith traditions united under the banner of such an important cause,” she said. Indeed, taking part in the panel discussions, gatherings, and Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Stephen of the Abyssinians were people of all faiths and backgrounds. Participants described their time together as a huge step forward in healing, with many describing the homily offered by Fr. Hans Zollner (one of the Church’s leading experts on safeguarding and prevention of sexual abuse) as a highlight of the gathering and an example of solidarity and prayerful community. The Prayers of the Faithful, delivered by survivors and members of the Global Collaborative also were profoundly significant for those in attendance.
“I think it was so important for FADICA to be there in a supportive, pastoral role,” Crawford reflected, “there is much we can learn from survivors and the leadership networks that accompany and support survivors.”
FADICA’s Safeguarding Initiative is a multi-year initiative that engages members and grantee partners in safeguarding capacity-building. Inspired by the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, this initiative affirms the inherent dignity of the human person while emphasizing the importance of safeguarding in upholding that dignity.