Statistics of child sex abuse in Latin America are alarming. In Peru, the rate is estimated to be around 20 per cent, with girls being the victims in three out of every four cases. Most often, the abuser is a family member or part of the close family circle.
Every day in the news, there is another awful story of abuse. In some ways, society has become numb to it. Meanwhile the topic is rarely talked about in churches.
Sharon Jones, a Latin Link member coordinating the ministry of Buena Tierra (Good Soil) in Peru, really wants to see this change. ‘We have to break the silence and stand up for those who are suffering’, she says. Their innovative solution is making a massive difference.
Squawk! Squawk! Hi everybody! My name is Aurora!
“I’m a cheerful parrot that flies here and there across Latin America and I talk to adults and children about what I see. Why? Because I want to help protect kids from child sex abuse. Sadly, I see a lot of it on my travels and I really want to be part of the solution to reducing this problem.
“I have help from Sharon Jones, who coordinates training and helps me teach many grown-ups about what they can do to help.”
Would you like to know a bit about me?
“I was born in Peru, in an organisation called Paz y Esperanza (Peace and Hope), but I spent most of my early days in the jungle with Bernardo and Johanna Wenk, Latin Link Peru team members from Switzerland.
“Now I am spreading my wings and flying all over Peru, and even to other places like Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador and Paraguay! I visit the coast, the mountains and the jungle in my efforts to educate adults on this difficult topic, mainly in churches and schools.”
What tools do I use?
“We have a book filled with 17 lessons, giving children aged 4 to 12 the tools to protect themselves from abuse. We try to share this with as many adults as we can, so they can teach the children in their care, whether that’s in their Sunday School, their neighbourhood, their school or their family. The lessons are dynamic and fun for the children, helping them to understand this difficult topic.”
Training changes things for good
We asked Sharon about the impact this project has had so far:
“As a team, we’ve trained over 2,500 people in ten cities across Peru and we recently launched an international version at the ‘Expolit’ exhibition in Miami, where I also delivered some training. The Aurora materials offer tools which are really effective. The book includes information on the theory and statistics of abuse in Latin America, the factors that increase risk, and the steps needed to get help. It also provides clear instructions for teachers and activity sheets for the children. They can also obtain Aurora puppets and a digital resource pack with visual aids, Bible verses and a giant game.
“Teachers have told me about tough situations they are facing and that it is such a relief for them to be able to approach this theme from a biblical perspective. They also love the practical applications through the lessons.
“After participating in these lessons, some children have opened up for the first time about abusive situations they are in. Although the process of justice is not easy here in Peru, we can nevertheless show God’s love and compassion to those who are suffering and that is so important.
“To be honest, I often feel overwhelmed by this topic, but I’ve seen God at work and felt him strengthening me. I’m also very grateful for the six Peruvian volunteers who help with training. It’s encouraging to see them grow as they teach others.”
Your prayers are needed!
Recently Sharon has felt that there is a strong spiritual battle going on around this area.
PRAY for Sharon and the team from Buena Tierra, delivering the training across Peru.
PRAY for protection for the teachers boldly introducing this topic in churches and schools.
PRAY for children at risk of abuse: ask God to use his church to help form healthy families.
PRAY for a better justice system in Peru: for prosecution to be faster and less open to corruption.