May 18 was National Day to Combat Violence and Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. In honor of this important day, members of the Adventist church in Propriá, Brazil, in partnership with the Social Action Secretariat of the municipality, distributed educational magazines for children and adults, hung educational posters, and conducted marches (respecting social distancing guidelines of course). The initiative started on May 11 and is linked to the Breaking the Silence project.
Interviews on local radio with coordinators of the Tutelary Council and representatives of Quebrando o Silêncio alerted the community to the crucial nature of focusing on the prevention of abuse of vulnerable people. According to Karine Lima, secretary of Social Action and Human Rights of the municipality, due to social isolation in the last few months, the number of abuses against minors has increased.
“This important date aims to make society aware of the rights of children and adolescents to enjoy physical and emotional health” she stresses. “In addition, informing the family and society that violence against this group is a crime and should be reported.”
The Adventist Church repudiates any act of violence. According to Gilza Torres, director of the Breaking the Silence project in Sergipe, the church's partnership with public agencies strengthens the fight and prevention of abuse.
“Our idea is to push for prevention,” she emphasizes. “Therefore, every year we work with a theme that protects the elderly and women, and on May 18 we show care for our children, who are suffering especially in this time of social isolation. This union of institutions strengthens the fight for and protection of minors.”
Maria de Lourde was the first counselor of the Guardian Council in the municipality of Propriá in 1999, and says that the legacy of her life is to protect and raise awareness in the community about combating violence against minors.
“I raise this banner today because we need to take care of children and adolescents, who are our present and our future,” she says. “The Adventist Church has always been our partner in actions, and their ‘Breaking the Silence’ magazines for adults and children have excellent educational content.”
Fernando Barreto, Adventist pastor in the Propriá region, says the church is relevant in the local community. He adds:
"Vulnerable groups need the support of the churches and this partnership with the City Hall reinforced the Breaking the Silence project."