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3 June 2015 | 13:21

A resounding success for the BICE congress on child sexual abuse

Over 250 people attended the congress, held on the 20 May at the Collège des Bernardins. It was a huge success for our organisation; our aim with this congress was to better prevent the scourge of sexual abuse, and improve our support for child victims. Gathered at the Collèges des Bernardins in Paris, participants were from very different backgrounds ; childhood professionals, field workers and BICE partners in the Fight against Sexual Abuse programme, trainers, Catholic teachers, public and private child protection bodies, priests and BICE donors.

Important guests

Mrs Laurence Rossignol, Secretary of State for the Family, the Elderly and Autonomy opened the Congress at 9am. Her strong words were proof of her commitment and that of France to the fight against sexual abuse of children.

Mrs Rossignol’s words – « A child is an adult in the making, not a mini adult! » – were strongly reminiscent of the text of the Convention on the Rights of the Child : « The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth. »

‬‬‬ Mrs Geneviève Avenard, Children’s Ombudsman, was full of lucid determination and hope for the fight against sexual abuse : « No act of violence against a child is justifiable nor acceptable; the issue here is to make it preventable. »

The Catholic Church reiterates its determination to fight paedophilia

« The Catholic Church is committed to the fight against sexual abuse of children » explained Msgr. Robert Oliver, Secretary to the Papal Commission for the protection of minors. Through this Commission, the Catholic Church has expressed its readiness, in the immediate and longer term, to tackle the prevention and detection of sexual abuse, whilst providing support for children who have been abused by members of the clergy.

Wide-ranging subjects, varied approaches, high-quality presentations

The round table discussions at the Congress dealt with different topics, such as resilience in children, managing the victim’s statements within the legal system, or psychological support for children. In the afternoon, speakers from all over the world shared concrete suggestions for the prevention of sexual abuse and support.

The last round table of the day covered the dangers to children of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse on the internet.

The various presentations were applauded by the public. BICE’s partners, in France for the occasion, expressed their joy at being a part of this congress, and at being able to share their experiences of the subject. The French participants greatly appreciated the quality of the talks, and the depth of the international approach to this issue. All are aware that the task is immense, but that it is possible to combat child sexual abuse. According to Mrs Tith Davy, whose organisation Opération enfants du Cambodge is a BICE partner : « We should all protect children, because they can’t protect themselves. »

For a summary of the congress presentations, contact us in a few weeks at : congres2015@bice.org