The Xavier Network (XN) approved the ‘Commitment to Child Safeguarding’ (CCS) document, in a meeting held in Nuremberg on 7th March 2019, which has consolidated its approach to supporting partners in the Global South around this issue. The CCS which was developed by Irish Jesuit Missions (IJM), includes funding and resources for partners to develop child safeguarding programmes, advocacy, community and staff training, and awareness-raising. The commitment by the network to these protocols and procedures informs how all members collaborate with these local partners, going beyond child protection protocols, to building a local culture of child safeguarding and protection.
Work on the CCS has been ongoing for more than four years, as a collaboration between IJM and the other members of the Xavier Network, with external support by Paul Nolan. The document was completed by Emer Kerrigan in IJM, who, with John Guiney SJ in IJM, credits the process as being an example of the value of collaboration with the network. Approval of the document coincides with the last month’s publication of the Jesuits’ Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs). The policies echo two UAPs in particular; ‘Walking with the excluded’ and ‘Journeying with youth’.
The Xavier Network funds international partners in 87 countries, in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the world. It supports these partners in their challenges at local levels, as they work towards an adherence to global standards in child safeguarding and encourage projects to challenge social norms and advocate for change at a national level to bring their country in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols.
It is hoped that the Xavier Network’s adoption of this document will inspire similar organisations and networks to give the requisite attention to this urgent issue so that real credibility is sustained in our mission of accompaniment, justice and reconciliation. Providing safe spaces and places for children and the vulnerable in our cultures is a vital element of working with marginalised communities and individuals.