“In Marists, we are experiencing a change of institutional culture that leads us to work tirelessly in the process of prevention and protection of the rights of children and young people at all levels of our educational works. We are immersed in a process of co-creation of the culture of safeguarding through networking, and bearing in mind that the rights of children and young people are one of the essential pillars of our mission”.
This was the essence of the presentation given by Raimon Novell, coordinator of the Child Protection Team of Maristas Catalunya, at the Keeping Children Safe international summit, which was held from 8 to 11 November.
As Marists we explain that the change of culture in our institution is centred on considering children and young people as subjects of rights, not objects to be protected. Children and adolescents are the protagonists of their growth and their life project. They are people with their ideas and perspectives, with opinions, with social, civil and political rights. And they participate in and contribute to change. Their empowerment must be one more step in the process of creating the safeguarding policy.
This change of culture pushes us to work in a network; in our own Marist network and in a network with other institutions and entities of the environment with whom we share objectives. In the Marist sphere, on the one hand, a European network and an international network, since our institution is present in 81 countries of the world. And on the other hand, at the local level, in all the schools and social works, with the training of professionals and with the work of materials on protection for children from 3 to 18 years of age.
Beyond the Marist sphere, we work with other entities, organisations and institutions, public and private, from which we hope to learn and also to enrich them with our experience: some examples are KCS, the Spanish Standardisation Agency (UNE), UNICEF, EDUCO, PORTICUS IBERIA, entities that also work to co-create the way to change the culture of Catholic organisations.
The Marist institutional commitment (expressed in the General Chapter of Medellín, 2017) is in tune with the commitment of the Catholic Church. We responded to the four transformations called for by the Pope in the Letter to the People (2018): respecting the rights of children; moving from protecting the credibility and reputation of the institution to dealing with allegations of abuse with accountability and transparency; putting victims at the centre; and committing ourselves to generating safe environments emotionally, psychologically and physically.
As major conclusions, we expressed that the change of culture happens to consider children and young people as subjects of rights and participants of the safeguarding policy. We are aligned with international standards in terms of protection and we express this in a firm institutional commitment. We work as a network, the bigger the better, to co-create the culture of safeguarding, bearing in mind that the victims are always at the centre. This process involves a change of style and old practices, a change of attitude and taking a critical look at our organisational culture to understand what is happening to our institution and to work proactively to provide a better environment than in the past.
Here you can watch the full presentation of Marist’s participation in the Keeping Children Safe international summit.