April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

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By The Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults

Every April, we observe Child Abuse Prevention Month to highlight the importance of protecting minors from abuse. In Santa Clara County alone, there are approximately 1,800 verified cases of child abuse per year. In spite of this, it is largely believed that child abuse is underreported and as many as 1 in 4 children experience child maltreatment in their lifetime, and 1 in 7 children experienced abuse in the last year. Although it is largely hidden, its effect on our communities are widespread – child abuse is linked to health concerns, homelessness, dropouts, and high incarceration rates.

The Catholic Church understands that it is critical to build safety barriers around children and young people to keep them from harm. These barriers come in the form of codes of conduct, background evaluations, policies and procedures, and safety training programs. In the U.S., we provide age appropriate safe environment abuse prevention training to more than 4 million children and youth in Catholic Schools and in parish religious education programs. In the last year, over 2 million adults underwent background checks and received safe environment training in the Church.

In the Diocese of San Jose, we are all part of a larger culture of protection and healing within the Church. Each one of us can play an important role in strengthening this culture. For example, we can better prevent abuse by ensuring that the signs of abuse are identified and reported when first noticed. We can also play a role in victim outreach by offering support, compassion, and prayers to those close to us who have been abused. The importance we place on carrying out these acts of charity will go a long way in creating a culture within our Church where children are safe and victims/survivors find healing.

The Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults invites you to explore the following resources to help commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month:

Unite with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to a “Call to Prayer” and dedicate April 13 to prayer and sacrifice for the intention, “We pray that God may grant those affected by abuse in any way, the courage to tell their story and seek healing.” More information about the Call to Prayer is available at www.usccb.org/pray.

Join with Santa Clara County’s Child Abuse Prevention Council by planting a pinwheel in your front yard or workplace. Search their website to join with local organizations throughout the month of April to promote activities and awareness that lead to child abuse prevention at
www.sccgov.org/sites/cac/Pages/capmonth.aspx.

Visit the Diocese of San Jose Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults website to find out how we promote child abuse prevention and awareness throughout the year and instructions on how to report suspected abuse at www.dsj.org/opcva.