Catholic parishes and schools across the United States participate in National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April to highlight the importance of learning how to protect the vulnerable from this evil. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) provides resources for expanding awareness of the problem, and offers ways to prevent abuse. The following information is taken from the USCCB bulletin on Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Communicate with Your Children
It is extremely important to communicate openly with your children. Let them know that they can talk to you about anything that bothers them. This will help you identify warning signs and grooming behaviors perpetrated by offenders before they escalate to abuse.
Educate Yourself and Your Children on Abuse
Learning how to identify, prevent, and report abuse is key. Parents should empower their children to protect themselves from harm and to report abuse.
Identify and Report Warning Signs of Child Abusers
Grooming behaviors are the actions abusers use to lure a minor into an inappropriate relationship. Offenders may groom their victim, his or her family, or community for years. Abusers may isolate potential victims by giving undue attention or lavish gifts, or allow young people to participate in activities which their parents would not approve, such as watching pornography, using alcohol or drugs, or excessive touching, such as wrestling and tickling. Abusers may isolate victims from family or friends and tell them to keep secrets from parents or other caring adults.
Hold Offenders ACCOUNTABLE
Report all suspected abuse to local public authorities. You can also contact your local diocesan victim assistance coordinator to make a report and seek outreach for the abused. Diocesan policy requires that when a single act of sexual abuse is admitted or established, the offender is to be removed permanently from ministry.
Prayer for Healing
God of endless love,
ever caring, ever strong,
always present, always just:
You gave your only Son
to save us by His blood on the cross.
Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace,
join to your own suffering
the pain of all who have been hurt
in body, mind, and spirit
by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.
Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters
who have been gravely harmed,
and the cries of those who love them.
Soothe their restless hearts with hope,
steady their shaken spirits with Faith.
Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.
Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts,
heal your people’s wounds
and transform brokenness into wholeness.
Grant us the courage and wisdom,
humility and grace, to act with justice.
Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors.
Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen
How to Report Abuse
The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families provides a process for reporting abuse or neglect at dcf.wisconsin.gov/reportabuse. Reports of abuse can also be made by calling 920.969.7925 or 800.CHILDREN