April is recognized at National Child Abuse Awareness month. Over the next five issues, Today’s Catholic will take a look at how the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend implements the tenets of child protection in our parishes, schools and Catholic organizations, and publish a series of related articles, notices and prayers.
Here at Today’s Catholic we recognize that the topic of child abuse is a sensitive one, and that even printing stories about it might evoke emotional responses. Some might even prefer for us to remain silent on the issue, simply because it’s uncomfortable to talk about abuse that happens to children. However, when it comes to cases of abuse of children, silence is no longer the policy of the Catholic Church. We believe that these stories need to be handled with dignity, but even more, they need to be told.
I personally encourage you to take the time to read through our special features over the next five issues. Share what you learn with your family and loved ones, and help them become empowered to help build an environment of safety within our parishes, schools and organizations. Beyond that, join us in prayer for the victims of abuse, and for our Church — that we continue to promise to protect our youth.
You can help prevent the abuse of children. Know the warning signs of offenders. They prefer to be with children over adults. They go overboard touching or tickling children, or wrestling with them. They may give minors alcohol or drugs, or show them pornography. They allow children to break the rules. Offenders act as if the rules do not apply to them.
If you observe an adult who is not behaving appropriately with children, speak up. Let someone know what you saw. You are not accusing anyone of anything. You are letting someone know you care, are watching, and are concerned that no harm is done to a child.
Abuse is never the fault of the victim. It is always the responsibility of the offender. The reality is that most victims of abuse know their abuser. One in four females and one in six males report being abused as a minor.
If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse there are things you can do even if the abuse happened years ago. Call the police to report the abuse. If the abuser was in a position of authority in an organization, report the abuse to that organization. Call an abuse crisis hotline.
If it happened in a Catholic church or school, contact Mary Glowaski, victim assistance coordinator for the diocese at 260-399-1458.
Rosary for healing and protection
Every April, Child Abuse Prevention Month is commemorated to highlight the importance of protecting minors from abuse.
On Friday, April 6 at 2 p.m. ET, the staff of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will gather to pray a rosary to Our Lady with special intentions for victims and survivors of abuse and the defense of the vulnerable. The rosary will be streamed live on the USCCB Facebook and Twitter pages to encourage public participation.
For more information visit http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/index.cfm.
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