Faith actors and communities can prevent violence against children by working to shift harmful attitudes and practices towards children. In addition to emphasizing child protection messaging, religious leaders can utilize their trusted positioning to recognize and report cases of violence against children to relevant authorities. This page presents examples and resources which highlight the role faith can play in preventing the abuse of children.

One of the most important roles that churches can play, or faith groups can play, is prevention. They can support new parents, …to create nurturing and caring environments for themselves and their children, then we will go a long way to preventing abuse and neglect. I think that is a key role. (CD, Child Rights Consultant serving Christian communities, South Africa)

Practice Examples:

Example 1: Peace, Love, and Tolerance: Basic Messages from Islam and Christianity to Protect Children from Violence and Harmful Practices

  • Organization: UNICEF Egypt, International Islamic Center of Population Studies and Research at Al-Azhar University, Coptic Orthodox Church-BLESS
  • Timeline: From 2013-present.
  • Project: The Peace, Love & Tolerance project explores how to prevent violence against children from the perspectives of Islam and Christianity. The main goal of the project was to develop three publications concerning ending violence against children, one from the perspective of the Holy Bible, one from the perspective of the Holy Quran, and the third as a joint publication. The publications, which covered 11 forms of violence against children, targeted religious leaders and aimed to prevent violence within families, schools, and social circles. After the publications were released, the project held Trainings of Trainers (TOT) to educate religious leaders on how to recognize and report violence against children.
  • Results: The project held 13 TOT workshops with 155 participants, 6809 young people were reached through 94 seminars with ending violence against children messaging, and 19,148 parents were reached through seminars or differing outreach activities. The project was able to bring awareness to violence against children, highlight the notion that preventing violence against children is central to both Islam and Christianity, and better equip faith leaders to prevent and report cases of child abuse.
  • Find the full case study in JLI’s 2019 Scoping Study (Palm, S. and Colombo, F. 2019, pg. 5) and the full guide here.

Example 2: Channels of Hope for Child Protection in Malawi

  • Organization: World Vision
  • Timeline:  2014-2015.
  • Project: The Channels of Hope (CoH) project model protects children by educating religious leaders on child protection issues , as well as working to strengthen the capacity of faith communities to create safe environments for children. Religious leaders take part in interactive workshops that address and work to change harmful values and practices surrounding the treatment of children. The process emphasizes the grounding of child protection and well-being in existing religious understanding and scriptures. As World Vision self-identifies as a Christian organization, the curriculum is rooted in principles from the Christian Scriptures, however Islamic Relief Worldwide has developed a Muslim version of the CoH curriculum.
  • Results: An evaluation of a CoH pilot project facilitated in Malawi indicated strong evidence of an increased understanding of child protection among faith leaders following the workshops. Pastors reported integrating child protection messaging in sermons and community meetings, and a majority of pastors reported that they had been directly involved in preventing individual children from being abused or extricating children from situations that represented a violation of their rights.
  • Read more in JLI’s 2019 Scoping Study (Rutledge, K. and Eyber, C. 2019, pg. 13) or find the full report here.

Example 3: Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation

  • Organization: ECPAT International and Religions for Peace
  • Project: ECPAT International and Religions for Peace produced a guide that provides background information on the nature of online sexual exploitation, multi-faith perspectives and teachings about protecting children, and directives on how to raise awareness and report abuse to relevant authorities. This guide provides tools to advocate, educate, raise awareness, and collaborate with other religious leaders and communities.
  • Results: They introduced the guide at a forum, Child Dignity in a Digital World. This forum led to the creation of an Interfaith Alliance for Safe Communities.The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, “called upon the Forum to strengthen the alliances with religious and spiritual communities and leaders and underscored that faith communities are uniquely placed to help mobilise preventive action and to educated youth and families regarding the risks and opportunities related to the digital sphere.”
  • Read more in JLI’s 2019 Scoping Study (Rutledge, K. and Eyber, C. 2019, pg. 24) or find the full guide here.

Related resources:

Arigatou International Guide for the Prevention of Violence against Children

Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence Advocacy Booklets

Canadian Council of Muslim Women Engaging Men and Boys to End Violence in the Family
Center for Interfaith Action on Global Policy Early Marriage and Female Genital Cutting A Facilitator Manual To Train Muslim Faith Leaders
Churches Network of Nonviolence Ending Corporal Violence Against Children- a handbook for worship & religious gatherings
Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa The Tamar Campaign 
IMA World Health Christian Sermon Guide on MNH  & Muslim Khutbah Guide to Save the Lives of Mothers and Newborns: A Toolkit for Religious Leaders
Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities
Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association Child Protection- Religious Leaders Manual  
Sonke Gender Justice Does sparing the rod really spoil the child: A fact sheet to address religious justifications to corporal punishment 
UNICEF & Religions for Peace What religious communities can do to eliminate violence against children 
World Council of Churches Let the Children Come to Me- Contextual Bible Study Manual on Young People 
World Vision Protecting Children, a biblical perspective on child rights 

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