Discussing Child Participation and Empowerment at the Faith and Child Safeguarding Summit

Arigatou International supported the organization of the Faith and Child Safeguarding Summit a platform for religious institutions, faith-based organizations, academics, and religious leaders to come together, exchange insights, experiences, challenges and best practices on child safeguarding in religious and faith-based contexts.

Spread over 4 days, with 93 international speakers, and nearly 2,000 attendees, this summit ran from 8-11 November 2021 and was specifically designed to help give faith organizations a platform to demonstrate their commitment to child safeguarding.

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Executive Director of Arigatou International Geneva moderated an inter-faith panel titled Faith, Spirituality and Child Safeguarding: An interfaith conversation around preventing Spiritual Abuse on 08 November.

“There is a critical need to protect children who are victims of spiritual abuse, and therefore to create mechanisms or systems to ensure their protection. We also need to empower children to speak up to protect others and to develop their resilience,” she said in her opening remarks.

The discussion included Dr. Denise Ziya Berte, Ph.D., Executive Director at Peaceful Families Project; Rabbi Diana Gerson, Associate Executive Vice President at New York Board of Rabbis, and Dr. Patricia Espinosa Hernández, member of the CEPROME Latin-American Council.

The dialogue focused on spiritual abuse, coercive control and abuse of power in religious institutions. It provided a space for deepening the understanding of spiritual abuse, and for sharing strategies for detecting it and addressing it.


The panel contributed to identifying actionable recommendations and building on promising practices of Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities across the world, to disrupt the chain of harm, reaffirming imperatives for protection, and standing against the perpetration, enabling, or silencing of spiritual abuse.

An inter-faith panel moderated by Ms. Silvia Mazzarelli, Regional Coordinator Global Network of Religions for Children for LAC, and Ms. Vera Leal, Senior Education Officer at Arigatou International Geneva was held on 11 November. The session was titled Enhancing Child Safeguarding in Faith Communities through Child Participation: Multi-faith Perspective Across Regions, and it looked at child participation as a central pillar of child safeguarding.

Members and partners of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, shared their experiences on the practical application of child participation and implications on violence prevention and response, in Buddhist, Christian and Muslim communities.

Summit 2

The panel was composed of Mr. Guillermo Niño Fernández, Pastor, Methodist Church of México; Zam Obed, Field Officer, Childslife-Kenya; Ms. Azam Sahih de Matin, founder of the Institute of Education in Virtues for Human Development, and Ms. Opor Srisuwan, Project Coordinator of Assessing Child Protection, International Network of Engaged Buddhists.

The dialogue provided a unique space to explore challenges and opportunities to create religious spaces that are age-appropriate and child-friendly and equip children to stand up and break the silence on their own abuse, while also working with faith leaders, families, and caregivers.

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