|Catholic Dioceses Promoting Child Abuse Awareness Month|
WASHINGTON—Catholic dioceses nationwide will promote Child Abuse Awareness Month in April. Plans call for raising awareness through special prayers during Sunday Masses, diocesan and parish lectures, and other educational activities.
Child Abuse Awareness is a major initiative of the Catholic Church in the United States. As a result an estimated 1.6 millions persons have undergone background checks; 1.8 million priests, deacons, candidates for ordination, educators, employees and volunteers have gone through safe environment programs and approximately 6 million children in parish school and religious education programs have received age-appropriate instruction in this area.
Some, such as the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas; and Grand Island, Nebraska, also are joining their efforts with the Blue Ribbon Campaign of the National Exchange Club Foundation, which promotes the blue ribbon as a national symbol of child abuse awareness. The foundation produces materials for public awareness.
The diocesan and parish efforts were urged by the U.S. bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People. It provided educational materials, homily resources, prayer cards, intercessory prayers, posters and other materials to each of the 195 dioceses in the United States.
"We can never rest when it comes to protecting children and teenagers," said Bishop Gregory Aymond, Committee chairman. "The prevalence of child abuse in our society calls for vigilance of parents, pastors, teachers, indeed, all responsible adults. Child Abuse Prevention Month deserves our attention in both prayer and action."
In the Corpus Christi Diocese, for example, the Office for Safe Environment has distributed brochures outlining hiring, screening and training requirements related to preventing child abuse. The diocesan newspaper, "South Texas Catholic," also scheduled a series of articles such as "Grooming Behaviors of Sex Offenders" and "Preventing and Identifying Child Sexual Abuse." The newspaper also plans to offer a tribute to local Safe Environment Coordinators in mid-April.
Others, such as Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas and Diocese of Monterey, California, will promote awareness through their diocesan newspaper.
Dioceses are providing information via their Web sites. The Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, for example, plans to post on its site a coloring book, originally developed by the Archdiocese of New York for sexual abuse awareness. The resource can be reproduced and distributed or used in schools or religious education programs. Each Monday in April the diocese will feature articles and resources about child safety.
The Diocese of Orlando, Florida, will provide a child abuse prevention video on its Web site. The video can be viewed by anyone, but all diocesan employees are required to view the video and there is a corresponding test that employees must pass. The video was part of a diocesan training program.
Some dioceses are printing "Did You Know" announcements developed by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for weekly parish bulletins. One announcement highlights the prevalence of child abuse in society and reports that "an estimated 9.6 percent of all school children will be molested by an educator or an employee of a school between kindergarten and 12th grade." The information comes from Professor David Finkelhor's article, "Current Information on the Scope and Nature of Child Sexual Abuse."
The Diocese of Orange, California, will host a guest speaker who works with adults and child sexual abuse victims to address "The Impact of Sexual Abuse on the Child and the Family."
The Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, is publishing on-line a special spring edition of St. Raphael's Messenger, its parent training series so pastors can print it for parents in their parish.
The resource materials sent to dioceses were developed by the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and underwritten by the Catholic Communication Campaign, which is supported by a collection taken up annually in parishes to support church media efforts. The resource material is available at http://usccb.org/ocyp/april_cap_month.shtml.