On Saturday, March 13, 2021, the first virtual Child Protection Office (CPO) North America conference was held on Zoom. This was a long-cherished dream of the North American CPO regional director, Lila Suka Dasi, who has wanted to provide ongoing support for the teams that have been created to prevent child abuse in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
The Child Protection Office was established by the Governing Body Commission (GBC) of ISKCON in 1997. The GBC's guidelines created in 2005 were laid out to create a system to give local support to temples to enact policies of safe practices that include screening, training, and education towards preventative protection measures for children and families that have developed over time into the current Child Protection department. The department is represented globally across ISKCON. The primarily works on preventative measures but the CPO also investigates reports of abuse and convene review panels composed of devotees trained in child protection who are charged, in the face of alleged abuse, to determine what actions should be taken to restrict an alleged abuser within ISKCON.
The goals of this conference were to provide the opportunity for CPT members across the USA and Canada to get to know one another and see themselves as part of a larger child protection community by creating this space to establish a network of resources, to increase the connection between CPT members and the CPO, and to build skills and competency to empower CPT members in their service.