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Evansville, Indiana
February 2, 1996     The Message
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February 2, 1996

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se to child sexual abuse them accountable for their behavior, they can be for- gIvell. arne suggestions for developing simple practical m0n plans at the local level: _For parishes (many of these suzzestions can be aaapted for use by dioceses)  saeCreate an atmosphere of welcome, trust, and ty in your parish that encoura es " forward. , - _ g people to come . me at)used, abusers, and all those affected uy abuse, such as mothers wh or fam-1.. . o suspect that a friend famil.. Y member is abusing their child, as well as members who may be in a nosition to offer sup- Port and security to the ab i- s Es+.L,. , used person. onsn a procedure to respond when someone approaoh availa-l.eeS a staff member about sexual abuse. Have . a list of referral a encies and r s to gSve to r,o1_ - g esource te :f pe Wao request help. Become familiar with 00equirements as well as diocesan oli s "mng sexual abuse. P de:elop a network of eo le with ex ertise in ,,--g Witn sex P P P tact , same-- a ual abuse. Regularly__ _ pubhsh a con- leth nd phone number in your Sunday bul- of sexual abuse within a homily, when lets people know that the preacher is This sometimes opens the door for assistance. persons and abusers turn to their healing and reconciliation. Abused and compassion; abusers need and support. A prayer ser- ceremony can help people as lives. to teach people about sexual children, programs should discuss behavior and include to go if they think they are for parents should help them about their bodies and the as well as about personal safety and Strategies. questions of violence and the roles of the family as part of marriage p;:: ately introduce ouestions about pective spouse was treated growing up, :ents treated each other, and how they reWard their spouse and their children. use of language in parish programs that reflects the equal dignity of )rrnation and resources with other that are also trying to address iSSues. are, or have been, sexually lies n YOur parish as a source of support, assistance: In particular, locate one parish with whom you can talk about are not alone; many others, men also experienced abuse. If possible, or COmmunity support group for those abused. Such groups can hell sur- abuse learn how to find healing and a new, hope-filled life. ealing process is underway join in activities to combat sexual out to others can help the healing We have not addressed this statement to children, our hearts go out to them. Perhaps an adult in their lives who truly cares for them could share the following words with them: Dear children, when Jesus walked on the earth he loved little children. Our Holy Father has said "How important children are in the eyes of Jesus!" Jesus treated children with kindness and respect. He under- stood when they were hurting. Like Jesus, we care when you hurt, especially when a grown-up has caused your hurt. We know that you are God's very special gift. God loves you, and we love you. You are our hope for the future. CONCLUSION In this statement we have spoken out against the tragedy of child sexual abuse. We have described this abuse and its effects on children and adults. Our statement has emphasized the need for healing and forgiveness, as well as the need to hold the abuser ac- countable, and has offered some practical suggestions for dealing with sexual abuse. In offering this state- ment we acknowledge our moral responsibility to put children first, to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. we know that sexual abuse raises many more is- sues -- moral, legal, psychological, and others -- that are not discussed here. They need to be addressed with understanding, compassion, and justice. We hope that communities of faith, accepting their moral obligation to children, will formulate their own re- sponses. We would like to hear from them to learn how they are dealing with survivors, abusers, their families, and their friends.* Working together and trusting in the Spirit's wisdom and guidance, we can confront the evil of child sexual abuse, break through the darkness, and walk in the light. *Contact the Committee on Women in Society and in the Church and the Committee on Marriage and Family, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 3211 Fourth Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194. RESOURCES Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Do- mestic Violence, 936 North 34th St., Suite 200, Seattle, WA 98103 (206-6341903). The Center has many resources available, including curricula on child sexual abuse prevention and videos on child abuse. See in particular: Preventing Child Sexual Abuse, Ages 9-12 and Preventing Child Sexual Abuse, Ages 5-8, two curricula designed for use by religious educa- tors; and Sexual Abuse Prevention: A Study for Teenagers. Suggested videos include Hear Their Cries: Religious Responses to Child Abuse and Bless Our Children: Preventing Sexual Abuse. National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, 332 South Michigan Ave., Suite 1250, Chicago, IL 60604 (312-663-3520). Ad Hoc Committee on Clergy Sexual Abuse, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 3211 4th St., N.E., Washington, DC 20017. The Committee has pulled together important resources, including diocesan policies on child sexual abuse, treatment centers, and reports by experts in the field. A suggested Prayer Service for Healing and Recon- ciliation, which may be adapted to local needs, is available from the Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 3211 4th St., N.E., Washington, DC 20017 (202-541-3040). RVICE INC. 18 L. HAUBSTADT ELECTRIC Licensed * Bonded, Insured Industrial, Commercial and Residential P.O. Box 405 TONY NAZARIO Haubstadt, IN 47639 812-768-5207 1-800-766-2787 rt Catholic schools by USing the Tradition Card. FORD purchase you make using Tradition Card goes education. Call 464-3322 or 1-800-777-3949 details. Issued by Citizens Bank. LinCo Coffee Services Total Beverage Distributor Indiana-Illinois-Kentucky 46 Varifies of Coffees and Teas ATEVER YOUR TASTE, WE CAN MATCH IT Washington 254-4409 Evansville 422-1833 JOHN MANGIN Owner The Decorating Corner 21 East South Washington, IN 47501 Business: 254-7794 Home: 254-3087 On a related topic: When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Do- mestic Violence against Women (Bishops' Committee on Women in Society and in the Church and the Bish- ops' Committee on Marriage and Family). This pam- phlet provides information and concrete suggestions for women who are abused, their abusers, and parishes and dioceses which seek to address the prob- lem. Available in English and Spanish from the USCC Office for Publishing Services (1-800-235-8722). When You Preach... Remember Me (Bishops' Com- mittee on Women in Society and in the Church). This 12-minute, discussion-starter video shows how preaching can help break the cycle of domestic vio- lence. It features experts in the field of domestic vio- lence, priests who have preached about it, and women who have experienced it. Available from USCC Office for Publishing Services (1-800-235-8722). Broken Vows: Religious Perspectives on Domestic Violence is an award-winning video featuring the sto- ries of six formerly battered women. Available from the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence (206-634-1903). NOTES 1. Fact sheet No. 19, National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, 1992. 2. According to the Fifty-State Survey of Child Abuse and Neglect, an aggregation of state data col- lected by the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, in 1993 about 15 percent of all sub- stantiated cases of child abuse and neglect concerned sexual abuse, representing approximately 150,000 children. According to David Finkelhor, Ph.D., co-di- rector of the Family Research Laboratory at the Uni- versity of New Hampshire, the true scope of the prob- lem is better reflected in retrospective surveys of adults. Considerable evidence exists to show that at least 20 percent of American women and 5 to 10 per- cent of American men experienced some form of sex- ual abuse as children. See D. Finkelhor, "Current In- formation on the Scope and Nature of Child Sexual Abuse" in The Future of Children, vol. 4, no. 2 (Los Altos, Calif.: The David and Lucile Packard Founda- tion, 1994), pp. 31-53. 3. Statement of the General Counsel of the Na- tional Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference, February 18, 1988. See also Restoring Trust: A Pastoral Response to Sexual Abuse, vol. 1 (Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse, November 1994). 4. Basic Facts about Child Sexual Abuse, Chicago, Ill.: National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, 1988. 5. Child Rape Victims, 1992, brief by the U.S. De- partment of Justice. 6. Summit, R. (1993). "The Child Sexual Abuse Ac- commodation Syndrome," Child Abuse and Neglect 7:177-193. 7. Finkelhor, p. 31. 8. For an extended discussion of some of these char- acteristics, as well as an analysis of recidivism, see Judith V. Becker, "Offenders: Characteristics and Treatments,  in The Future of Children, pp. 176-197. 9. Fact Sheet No. 19, National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, 1992. 10. Ibid. 11. Project Benjamin Handbook, Archdiocese of Mil- waukee, 1990, p. 58. 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