Every April, Catholic parishes and schools across the United States participate in National Child Abuse Prevention Month. We observe Child Abuse Prevention Month to highlight the importance of protecting children from all forms of abuse.
The Catholic Church understands that it is critical to build safety barriers around children and young people to keep them safe from harm. These barriers come in the form of codes of conduct, background evaluations, policies and procedures, and safety training programs for both children and the adults who work with them. Even more so, parish and school personnel, including clergy, are “Mandated Reporters” and are required by state law to report suspected or disclosed child abuse.
In the Diocese of San José, 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 in the community who have been personally affected by abuse. 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.
In Santa Clara County alone:
- There are over 2,000 verified cases of child abuse per year, according to this recent study from the Santa Clara County Child Abuse Prevention Council.
- The Child Abuse & Neglect Center (CANC) experienced a decline of suspected child abuse reports at the beginning of the 2020 stay-at-home orders, by almost 34 percent, compared to those months in 2019.
- Even more alarming, during the COVID-19 emergency and stay-at-home orders, far fewer eyes and ears where available to help ensure children remain safe from different types of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect.
Though we work tirelessly year-round to create safe environments for our children, let us put a special emphasis this April to promote child abuse prevention in our community and help families thrive. Please visit our Child Abuse Prevention Month website for resources and materials that you can use to promote child safety awareness during April and help lift up families in your community by showing your support for thriving childhoods year-round.
The Diocese of San José encourages anyone who suspects that a child has been or is being abused to report their suspicions to civil authorities. Diocesan parish and school personnel, including clergy, are “Mandated Reporters” and are required by state law to report suspected abuse. To make a report in Santa Clara County, please contact The Child Abuse & Neglect Center at 1-833-722-5437 or call 9-1-1. Please visit our website to learn more about what the Diocese of San José is doing to protect God’s children.