I'd like to see church ministers being proactive in curbing violence before it happens. It is good to see church ministers taking a positive step to curb violence, by encouraging parishioners to report violence. Any social problem has many causes, and violence against children is no exception. There is no one solution. Continuing dialogue for solutions should be encouraged.
As a lawyer who has dealt with predominantly church issues at the High Court at Auckland and Wellington for two decades, I'd like to see church ministers being proactive in curbing violence before it happens. "Prevention is better than cure" especially where lives of the young and innocent are at risk. This is vitally important in the Pacific community, as in New Zealand, the church has replaced the village. There is much more that the church ministers can do because they hold the position of trust and respect. Admittedly, the trust and respect has waned in some instances because of their abuse of power.
Ministers need to find ways of reaching out to families to build trust so people within a church may feel safe to ask for help with a potential problem within a family, before violence occurs and someone is hurt.
Talking to each other may deflect the violence. Reporting violence to me is an indication of "talking past each other, in the family and in the community".
In the past, the minister stepped in when there was a problem within the villages. Today, much of this culture is lost. Re-establishing this role for ministers is a positive way forward. Today's ministers must establish the trust of parishioners, in a proactive step to save lives. Reporting violence is good, but why wait until the damage is done?
Ministers need to re-evaluate their roles. It is a positive step to see them standing against misconstruction of the Bible to justify violence, in today's world.
Olinda Woodroffe is a lawyer and parishioner with a BA in Sociology of Religion & Education.By Olinda Woodroffe