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Preventing and addressing violence and child abuse: The role of the religious sector

Dr Michelle Egan-Bitran worked as a Principal Advisor (Faith) with the Royal Commission on Abuse in State and Faith-based Care. Now a Safeguarding Children Consultant, Michelle is sharing her  experience as an advocate and Social Work practitioner to support those in the religious sector to prevent child abuse. This includes knowledge gained through completion of her doctoral thesis “The Gremlin of Silence”: Exploring the New Zealand Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian Religious Institutional Responses to Interpersonal Violence.

Michelle’s article ‘A Call for Inclusion, Mutual Accountability and Action’ explores the unique role and mandate of the religious sector; implications of this in preventing and addressing violence and child abuse; potential to harness as well as the need to address barriers within religious settings which can perpetuate or enable such violence. Read Michelle’s full article here.

Building on the content covered in this article, Safeguarding Children will be running a two-part webinar series ‘The Religious Sector, Violence and Child Abuse’:


Part 1 – Understanding Spiritual Abuse and Religious Grooming, 28 November 7pm – 8.30pm

This webinar explores the unique role and mandate of the religious sector in preventing and addressing violence and child abuse – the potential to harness as well as the need to address barriers within religious settings which can perpetrate or enable such violence. This will include an introductory discussion on spiritual abuse and religious grooming – tools of power, control and manipulation used by perpetrators in religious settings which are often different from those used in secular settings. How these tools, combined with often religious institutional cultures of secrecy, systematic cover-ups, and widespread protection of those who abuse children are explored and implications for abuse prevention and intervention are introduced.


Part 2 – Implications for Policy and Practice, 5 December 7pm – 9pm

This webinar builds on webinar one and explores what is required of the New Zealand religious sector to harness their potential to help prevent and address violence and child abuse, including preventing spiritual abuse and religious grooming. This webinar will outline the need for religious institutions, communities and congregations to develop and implement safeguarding and child protection frameworks, and address institutional cultures and practices which can perpetuate violence and abuse. Policy and practice implications for the New Zealand government as well as the wider violence and child abuse prevention and intervention sector will be also be introduced.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to register for these webinars, click here.

It is Safeguarding Children’s hope and intention that this humble contribution supports the work of survivors, survivor groups and fellow allies to mobilise and advocate for deep systems change to help prevent and address such violence and abuse.

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