Child Safety – Child Voice.
As we move towards opening our parishes safely we have introduced the fours C’s: Child Safe, Community Safe, Cyber Safe and COVID Safe. This week Fr Brendan reflects on what Child Safe and Child Voice might mean in our parish.
‘Out of the mouths of babes’ is a great expression. It reminds us that it is not always the more experienced and wise members of our community who have all the answers or the wisdom to tackle the problems or challenges of the day. It is not always those who have been on the road for a long time who necessarily have insight. The saying, out of the mouths of babes, reminds us that the young, children and infants can also have a contribution to make to the life of our family, our school and our parish community as well.
My father used often look at his young grandchildren and claim, ‘they are coming on well’. There is some inference in statements like this that children are on their way to becoming something. They will arrive one day and be someone. Of course children are not adults and in many ways it is true to say that childhood and adolescence are stages of growth and development. But when does that growth stop? Aren’t we all on the journey of life that involves us in constant growth and development? In the workplace we have a greater emphasis on life-long learning these days. We are conscious that not only childhood and adolescence are stages of growth but so is middle age and early ageing and old age. We never stop growing and changing.
In this sense all of us have something to say about life and life experiences from our different perspectives. A healthy and inclusive community (and society) will listen to all the voices in its midst, not just those who can vote, or those who can pay, of those who are considered to be ‘grown up’.
As we reflect on safely opening our parishes we could do well to reflect on how the voices of children are present in our parish life. In what way are their voices heard? How could they be better listened to and heard? What kind of contribution do we believe children can make to our parishes present and future? Do we believe that children are made in the image and likeness of God as a child just as I am made in the image and likeness of God as a middle aged person or as an elderly person? Where does the reflection of God’s face in human beings begin and end?
I invite you this week to listen to the voices of children around you with new ears. What might God bei tell us about our lives and about God’s ways in and through them.