Sixteen persons from different sections of Gozo’s society ended the first course on the protection of minors, accredited by the National Commission for Higher Education. The course was run by the Institute for Pastoral Ministry, which was specifically established to provide information to people in the Gozo diocese.
Participant Jennifer Cauchi said the course provided her with an opportunity to better understand the situation of youths who face different abuses.
Another participant, Savio Sacco, said “the course prepares us to identify signs of different types of abuses, not only sexual but also negligence or even physical”.
The Institute for Pastoral Ministry director, Fr Joseph Farrugia, said that abuses on children or vulnerable persons are a reality. “International statistics show that one in five girls and one in seven boys are sexually abused. This seems to be a reality also in Malta and Gozo, which unfortunately also touches the Church and our families as many of the abuses occur in families”.
A group called Safeguarding of Minors – Gozo has been established as a prevention to abuses and to assist victims of abuse. Fr Farrugia added that some 200 persons were trained since the establishment of the group.
The Institute for Pastoral Ministry was formally established in September 2016. The Bishop’s delegate and chairperson of the board of directors, Joseph Azzopardi, said that the institute does not only offer religious or spiritual courses in tertiary level but also human formation.