With National Child Abuse Prevention Month inspiring child protection efforts from both secular and religious organizations across North America this April, ISKCON North America’s Child Protection Office (NACPO) is welcoming a new member to its team.
Based in San Diego, Radha Dasi is a Harvard graduate lawyer who has worked in family law for more than twenty years, and has a background in providing legal counsel for instances of domestic violence. She has joined the NACPO as its response coordinator.
Radha will review and investigate allegations of child abuse, then respond accordingly.
Previously, ISKCON’s International Child Protection Office handled responses for allegations all over the world. But Radha’s addition will enable a faster response time in North America, as she will be in a similar time zone to the location where an incident took place, will speak the same language, and know local laws.
“As well as being highly qualified for serving in this capacity, Radha is truly a kind, sincere, dedicated devotee, who has shown over the decades her willingness to help ISKCON in a variety of legal capacities,” says Child Protection Officer Lilasuka Dasi, who is based in Alachua, Florida. “I am looking forward to working with her.”
While “response coordinator” is a new position that has been created for the North American CPO, regional officers are also being added all over the world for quicker response times.
As well as adding a new member to its team, the NACPO is requesting ISKCON North America to raise awareness of child protection in various ways throughout National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“This month is an opportunity for secular and religious organizations to acknowledge this universal problem, and to break the silence on a topic that otherwise people typically choose not to address,” says Lilasuka.
One way to raise awareness is by dedicating a Sunday Feast lecture to talking about the importance of child protection. The story of how Lord Nrsimhadeva saves his five-year old devotee Prahlad from his abusive father Hiranyakasipu in the seventh canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam is a perfect jump-off point. So are the stories in the tenth canto of the different demons – some of whom appear to be good people on the outside, like Putana – who try to cause harm to Krishna and his friends. Meanwhile, mother Yashoda always remains aware and concerned with trying to keep the children safe.
Another way to increase awareness is for the local Child Protection Team to set up information tables at their temple and give out the NACPO’s official brochure, available for download in English, Spanish and Bengali at safetemple.org. The brochure provides information about types of child abuse and neglect, how to respond if someone tells you they have been abused, how to increase child safety in your community, and who to contact to report a concern of child abuse.
Other ways to increase awareness include offering personal safety programs for children at your Sunday school, and inviting a guest speaker from a local child abuse prevention organization to talk to the congregation.
“For instance, assistant US attorney Frank Williams is coming to our community here in Alachua on Thursday April 23rd to do a presentation on Internet Safety,” says Lilasuka.
Temples are also working on getting more residents, main volunteers and managers to take the Darkness to Light online child safety training program, which is used by the YMCA and other similar organizations.
In general, enthusiasm to increase child protection is spreading across ISKCON North America, not only because of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, but also because of the upcoming Safe Temple Awards.
The awards will be presented during the annual Governing Body Commission and Temple Presidents’ meetings in Houston, Texas during the second week of January 2016 to temples that have followed NACPO risk-reducing polices throughout the year 2015.
“The awards are an opportunity for temples to convey a unified demonstrable message of where ISKCON stands regarding child protection,” says Lilasuka.
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To find out more about the Safe Temple Awards and what you can do to increase child safety at your temple or community, write to Lilasuka Dasi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To download the NACPO’s brochure to print it and distribute it at your temple, visit http://www.safetemple.org/2013/07/30/brochure/
To take the Darkness to Light online training, visit http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.6243681/k.86C/Child_Sexual_Abuse_Prevention_Training.htm
For more information about National Child Abuse Awareness month, visit https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/about/[ child-abuse ] [ child-protection ] [ safe-temple-award ]