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Priests should be preaching about safeguarding, NST is told

20 September 2019

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CLERICS should be talking from the pulpit about safeguarding, including how to prevent abuse, the National Safeguarding Team (NST) of the Church of England has been advised.

In a blog post on Monday, the independent chair of the National Safeguarding Panel, Meg Munn, said that prevention had been the focus of the first meeting with the NST after the summer.

The panel, which advises the NST, includes survivors. The meeting was attended by the outgoing National Safeguarding Adviser, Graham Tilby, and the new Director of Safeguarding, Melissa Caslake (News, 12 April).

Ms Munn writes: “There was a question as to why more clergy don’t speak about safeguarding from the pulpit. All clergy are required to undertake training: shouldn’t this include encouraging them to do so?

“It was also suggested that churches could reinforce what children are taught in schools. Given the number of C of E schools, why isn’t there a closer link with the education system? The new legal requirement for personal, social, health and economic (PHSE) education creates an opportunity for the Church to lead the way.”

The panel also asked the NST whether safeguarding could be made “simpler, including using simple messages. Examples were given of work being done in other organisations on other issues such as sexual harassment. Having posters with information on how to get help can give a clear message that a particular organisation takes the matter seriously.”

The chief executive of the safeguarding charity ThirtyOne:eight, Justin Humphreys, was also at the meeting. He said on Tuesday: “Some may say that the safeguarding message within the Church and wider society has been well and truly heard by now. However, experience tells us that understanding that it is ‘everybody’s responsibility’ and what this really means is still only gaining partial traction. . .

“There is a challenge here about how we all continue to make efforts to break the taboo of speaking about abuse and harm, and create environments where it is OK to ask questions and to share concerns. This is particularly important for those of us who are leaders and have a platform — metaphorically or otherwise — to communicate the important principles of what safer, healthier communities of faith look like.”

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