This year’s “Child Abuse Prevention Month” is understandably different. Recent years rightly focused on abuse as it related to the church setting.
With churches effectively closed through April and social distancing a government mandate, the opportunity for abuse within a church setting is significantly less right now. What has increased is the potential for abuse within the domestic church, the home. As parents experience higher levels of stress this month (due to lost income, cabin fever, increased role in schooling efforts, etc.), the potential for stress to manifest via physical or verbal aggression increases.
It’s our role then to be socially savvy this month to prevent the near occasion of sin as it pertains to child abuse. Here are a few places to start:
- Protecting Children during COVID-19 outbreak (includes children, adults, learn and respond tabs)
- twitter.com/PCAAmerica (Prevent Child Abuse America)
- twitter.com/GPtoEndViolence (a Global Partnership)
Far more important than social media though is being personally social with families stuck at home. Please do your due diligence to check in with parents of your kid’s friends, your adult friends who are parents if you are not one, the parents of your godchild, your neighbors and others.
Go beyond asking how they’re doing. Ask point blank if the kids are driving them crazy or if they’re stressed about anything. Then ask what they’re doing to cope or break from it all. Be ready to offer some suggestions. See if they have the materials to make a pinwheel, the symbol for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
You can also offer to pray for those parents and for kids unknown to you who might be in danger. Your own heartfelt prayers can certainly do the trick. If you prefer more formulaic ones, here are some options:
- Join the diocesan prayer 10 a.m. PT April 8. Or by phone (571) 371-3122. Access code: 799-079-349
- A prayer for healing (modify to include “the pains of those abused by someone at home”)
- p10 of this USCCB Child Abuse Prevention Month Resource Guide offers short prayers
- novena (short one-line prayers)
- litany for healing
- Rosary for Healing (all Mysteries included)
Child and Youth Protection
The Diocese of Phoenix is committed to providing a safe environment where it values and honors every individual as created in the image and likeness of God. Great efforts have been made to put systems into place to keep our young people safe, and we will continue to work in close cooperation with law enforcement to uphold the principles of accountability and justice.
We urge anyone who knows of or has been a victim of abuse to contact law enforcement. Additionally, the Diocese of Phoenix provides support services through its Office of Child and Youth Protection.
The potential for abuse extends to those virtually in the home during this quarantine period too. So many students in the U.S. are finishing the school year online. In that case, parents should be extra vigilant about the potential for cyberbullying and proactive in maintaining healthy virtual boundaries. NetSmartz (including tipsheets for tweens, teen, parents, educators and law enforcement) and Kid Smartz (Spanish included) are places to start, according to this year’s USCCB resource guide for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
And for the survivors in our midst, there are several resources as well: