April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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By Griselda Cervantez, MSW,
DSJ Victim Assistance Coordinator

Every Sunday, we are surrounded by people in our congregation who have personally experienced abuse. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in four girls and one in six boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before they turn 18. Child and sexual abuse have no limits: children and adolescents of all cultures and socio-economic backgrounds are equally susceptible.

The Diocese of San Jose Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (OPCVA) reminds us that clergy, schools, volunteers, and parishioners all play important roles in preventing and responding to child abuse. Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month are a special invitation to look beyond what we already know and develop an increased mindfulness. As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tells us, “We are reminded of the call to be instruments of justice, working for the common good of all, which includes the protection of children. As Jesus entrusts to Peter the care of the flock, we are reminded that this responsibility belongs to everyone as a matter of charity and justice.”

To aid us in our journey through the month of April, the OPCVA has compiled the following list:

  • The OPCVA will distribute posters, bookmarks, and pins donated by Partners in Prevention. Pick one up at a parish or school near you!
  • Explore the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – Child and Youth Protection website to learn more about the Church’s commitment to child abuse prevention www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection
  • Visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – Child Welfare Information Gateway website to gain access to enriching tools and resources, including an April calendar with daily activities to promote child abuse prevention
    www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth
  • Participate in the YWCA Silicon Valley/As One Project! Training – How to Support a Survivor of Sexual Assault. For more information and to register, visit
    www.eventbrite.com/e/how-to-support-a-survivor-of-sexual-assault-tickets-31969822600
  • This year, Denim Day is April 26 – to learn how wearing denim can have a purpose, support survivors, and educate yourself and others about sexual assault, please visit www.denimdayinfo.org
  • Check out the Diocese of San Jose – OPCVA website to find out how we promote child abuse prevention and awareness at www.dsj.org/opcva

To share your personal journey in learning more about child abuse prevention and sexual assaut, please contact the OPCVA at (408) 983-0225 or vac@dsj.org by May 15, and your story may be featured in a future publication. See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father (MT 18:10).