Thousands say no to child sexual abuse in South America
Breaking the Silence magazine is published in the millions for distribution in South America for enditnow Emphasis Day.
South American Division (SAD)
[South America] Child sexual abuse is a global problem and worrying. In 2017, the World Health Organization estimated that up to 1 billion minors from 2 to 17 years old had suffered physical, emotional or sexual violence. Sexual abuse (from groping to raping), according to some 2014 UNICEF estimates, affected more than 120 million children, representing the largest number of victims.
At the same time, the police and judicial authorities are beginning to organize themselves better in order to combat pedophilia networks. However, specialists remember that the sexual crimes against minors are more common within the domestic environment or close friends of the children. That is, the abuser usually is someone very close to the child.
Therefore, South American Adventists coordinated and performed several activities, especially during August, to raise awareness of this problem. Two aspects were dealt with in the project “Quebrando o Silêncio,” in Portuguese, and “Basta de Silencio,” in Spanish: prevention and guidance for children and warning signs that adults need to check. There was also a mention about the broader conditions or factors that contribute for the abuse to exist.
Only in Brazil, in Portuguese, 1 million and 56 thousand copies of a magazine with articles, interviews, and reports regarding the topic were distributed free. There was a print run of 1 million 393 thousand copies for a magazine exclusively for children with age-appropriate language and practical tips. There were flyers also, with a print run of 4 million, 341,000 copies. Regarding material in Spanish, there were 134,364 copies of the magazine for adults, and 115,589 copies of the material for children.
In total, according to Women’s Ministries, more than 18,000 events were organized throughout South America. This included marches, lectures, forums, debates, activities in schools, among other initiatives.
Actions in São Paulo
In the southwest region of São Paulo, Brazil, there were 50 actions that took place to alert the population about the problems of domestic violence. In Sorocaba, one of the main cities of the region, a stage was set up in a busy park. The program had several music presentations, dramatizations, and the awarding of the three best essays of 8th grade students of elementary school of five municipal and private schools with the theme: Violence and Child Abuse – in partnership with the Department of Education of the Municipality.
In the west of the state of São Paulo, more than 250,000 magazines and flyers were distributed for this project. The campaign that fights abuse and violence against women, children and elderly people was marked by marches, actions in the city center, public service, lectures in schools and programs in more than 300 Adventist churches in the region. In several cities, such as Ribeirão Preto and São Carlos, enditnow is already part of the official calendar of the city’s activities.
Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais
In the state of Rio de Janeiro, playful resources were also part of the actions. In general, these are presentations with dolls that show the children that they have to be careful and that some part of their bodies must not be touched by other people. The stories teach that, when perceiving any strange attitude, they must tell it to someone trustworthy. These were the resources used by volunteers of the Adventist Church during a social action this Sabbath, August 24, in Rio das Ostras, in the Rio de Janeiro Lake Region. The same resources were used by the teachers of the Adventist school of Montes Claros, state of Minas Gerais, to raise students’ awareness about the topic.
In Porto Alegre, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, for example, Adventist volunteer professionals went to a busy public square of the region and set up booths where visitors received psychological, spiritual and legal attention. In the western region of Paraná State, a report was produced from an interesting story. Thanks to the enditnow project, it was possible to identify a crime that was occurring. In 2018, a four-year-old child received a copy of the magazine for children at his school. Among the activities suggested in that material, one of them requested that the child would draw something that made him/her sad and another that made him/her happy. The organizers did not expect that the young boy would do the same drawing in both sides, characterized by obscene traits that soon aroused suspicion of possible abuse.
Western-center and northern Brazil
In Pará and Amapá states, northern Brazil, where child sexual exploitation is extremely worrying, the mobilization took place in all Adventist churches. And with several actions, among them: marches, educational lectures at schools, and the enditnow caravan. The idea was to have the support of local motorcycle clubs and even those from other municipalities.
In Mato Grosso, the fourth Saturday of August it is now the day of enditnow. Bill No. 830/2019, by Deputy Wilson Santos, includes the date on the Official State Events calendar. Thus, the activities may occur through actions of the government in conjunction with civil society.
Chile and Ecuador
In Chile, during 2019, Women’s Ministries carried out several actions on the topic of child abuse in the country. For this reason, Adventist congregations belonging to the North Chile Conference carried out several activities. In Africa, districts got together to give lectures about education against violence and abuse to the community, and distributed printed material to the passers-by and the neighboring houses.
From August 19 to 24, Adventist leaders in Ecuador made an intensive effort and managed to give awareness lectures to 4,000 teenagers about child sexual abuse.
Breaking the Silence is an educational and prevention project against abuse and domestic violence promoted annually by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in eight countries in South America (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay) since the year 2002.
The campaign runs throughout the year, but one of its main actions always takes place on the fourth Saturday of August. This is the “Day of Emphasis Against Abuse and Violence” when rallies, forums, parent school, violence education events and demonstrations take place in South America.
Breaking the Silence magazines
Each year a theme is chosen to be discussed and addressed for the purpose of raising community awareness, reporting abusers and helping victims. The 2019 theme is child sexual abuse.
Read more: https://www.adventistas.org/pt/mulher/projeto/quebrando-o-silencio/
Download Breaking the Silence magazines in Portuguese and Spanish here: https://quebrandoosilencio.org/revista-quebrando-o-silencio-2019/
Contributed by Marli Peyerl, director of Women's Ministries for South American Division
Published in Mosaic newsletter, 2019 Q3