Wed | Jan 16, 2019

No place for paedophiles in church, says Blaine

Published:Thursday | April 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM

"If you know that you have a special attraction to children and in the Church ... , get out and go fix yourself and come back completely converted," child advocate Betty-Ann Blaine has advised paedophiles who, she charged, are attending church mainly to sexually molest children.

Blaine's warning came during her presentation at the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists training seminar titled Establishment of the Child Protection Policy.

"If you are outside, do not come in until you fix yourself. Do not give the Church or Jesus bad name. We have a banner at our churches: zero tolerance for child abuser. One single incident of abuse can affect or tarnish the entire religious community," Blaine said during her address to more than 50 persons comprising pastors, teachers, guidance counsellors, and administrators of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kingston on Tuesday.

"I am not prepared to tell any parent that their child will not be safe in church or any child that they are not safe in church. I am just explaining that children have a natural capacity for God, so we must embrace, harness, promote, and protect so they can achieve their full God-given potential."

Blaine further posited that "the Church is an easy target for sexual predators because they believe church people are naive. They know that church members are still saying, 'It can't happen in our church', and some are resistant to change and don't believe churches should do background checks."

Figures from the Office of the Children' Registry show an upward trend in the number of cases reported for children (mainly female) who were sexually abused for the period 2007-2015. The figures moved from 121 in 2007 to 3,806 in 2015. According to police statistics, sexual abuse of children is now one of the fastest-growing crimes in Jamaica.

Blaine, the founder of Hear the Children Cry, closed the training by challenging all participants to be advocates and to be resolute in ending violence and abuse against children and adolescents.