Jamaica: SDA church appeals to members to report abuse

Jamaica Observer:–  FAMILY, children and adolescent director of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Dr Lorraine Vernal is appealing to the church community to report criminal and abusive violations to help put an end to the vices affecting Jamaica.

“We live in a Jamaica where [last] week a young woman was raped and burned near to her home and although she was crying rape, and persons heard, she died a gruelling death,” Vernal said as she addressed Family & EndItNow Conference at the Kencot Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kingston on Saturday.

According to a release from the Jamaica Union of Seventh-day Adventists, Vernal argued that although it is an uncomfortable subject for many people, it has become more and more obvious that abuse is a serious problem for Christians, including Seventh-day Adventists.

“I ask that when we are made aware of any such atrocities, the response cannot be about saving the job or reputation of the perpetrator. Do not sacrifice our children and youth for somebody’s job or reputation. Do not cause them to feel guilty about talking about things that hurt them or make them uncomfortable. Do not pass judgement, such as ‘is play he/she was playing’, when you didn’t investigate. Report the cases. Do not worry about ‘informer fi dead’ because we can make reports anonymously,” she pleaded.

In reference to the notion that the abusers are usually males, Vernal warned: “Don’t laugh when our men and boys are victims of abuse. No abuse is funny. When a woman abuses a male, it is not cute or okay.”

The director emphasised that, as leaders, the church must see attacks on children, adolescents and adults as evil and pay attention to making homes, churches and other institutions safe places for everyone, especially the young.

“We are resolute in our stance about breaking the silence associated with abuse and violence. Not only do we encourage all citizens to be advocates, but we offer our expertise in helping victims and perpetrators,” she added.

Also addressing the conference was permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice Carol Palmer, who also challenged the church to do its part in ending crime, abuse and human trafficking.

“I want to charge the church firstly with recognising that it has responsibility for the welfare of our young people. We need to ensure that all persons who relate to young people, including their parents, care for young people. We want the church to get involved in what we are doing… advocate for the dignity and sanctity of every human life; ensure that it’s a top priority of the church for the care and welfare of children.

“Secondly, I am inviting the church to partner with us as it relates to human trafficking. I am being told many times that if you want to know where you are in Jamaica you should look for an Adventist sign, so I want you to help us to get the message in every ‘nook and cranny’ of Jamaica, to end trafficking in persons. Help us to raise awareness in each of your congregation,“ Palmer urged.

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