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Aug 11, 2023

NEAB Commends Belmopan Organization for Work with Sexual Abuse Victims

Diana Shaw

On Thursday, the National Evangelical Association of Belize (NEAB) issued a press release expressing shock over the allegations of sexual abuse that surfaced over the past week. NEAB made clear that its role is to help serve and recommend sound, healthy guidelines for churches that want that help. It stated, in its release that it feels the handling of abuse situations is extremely important, and went on to commend Jubilee Ministries for handling the recent incidents that have come to light involving one of its own pastors. NEAB also commends the Child Development Foundation, which works along with people in ministry to fulfill their role and also helps victims of such abuse through counseling and other interventions. The Child Development Foundation (C.D.F) headquartered in Belmopan, has been focusing on rehabilitating victims of far more than just child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation, but also human trafficking. The C.D.F’s Executive Director, Diana Shaw shared with News Five a bit of what they’ve been doing.


Diana Shaw, Executive Director, Child Development Foundation

“In relation to the allegations that have come out against church leaders, one of the things that we have emphasized in the trainings that we have done is the need to have strong response and accountability measure, in some of the sessions. So we started the sessions with the church two years ago, I think, since under the spotlight initiative, and it just started. And when spotlight initiative started, we approached UNICEF that we wanted to consider areas that were not receiving training, because we had been doing teachers and all of the other ones before. And we told them in this realm, we wanted to go to areas that we think probably have some risks. We don’t know yet if there would be reports, but they have not been getting training. So we identified the church, we identified sports organizations, clubs for that do clubs for children and we also identified private sector as a three areas of focus. We started out first with the sessions with the church and initially, not all the church leaders were receptive. A lot of them question bringing in because we talk a lot about the laws and they need to report. Some church leaders question bringing in government, they feel like it will bring a lot of government interference in the work that they do. They had questions about that. We have been called in allegations involving teachers, police, we have dealt with allegations with persons in the private sector, um, we have had allegations against politicians, and we have had allegations against church leaders before. This is not the first time. I think what is different this time is that the victims felt empowered enough to break their silence and to speak out, which is primarily part of why we offer counseling. So CDF’s work is on three levels. One, we provide training to stakeholders whose primary responsibility involves caring for children so that they can have proper procedures and policies in place to prevent abuse and also know what to do if it does occur. And that’s supported by UNICEF. We have a multi-year agreement with UNICEF where we do that. Secondly, we provide trauma counseling. We are one of the few trauma specialists in the country heading up our counseling unit. And we provide counseling to victims who are, who have experienced sexual abuse, sexual assaults, and human trafficking. The other part of it is the community sensitization, where we have activities year round where we go into the communities to educate the public on what child abuse is, what domestic violence is, what human trafficking is, and to encourage reporting, because there is a lot of fear in some of our communities about reporting some of these issues.”

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