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December 15, 1995     The Message
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December 15, 1995
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -- Taking the time to make a difference-- . Searching for 'belonging' in today's world I don't think [ ever told any- body about the times I was afraid to go to grade school. There were kids, older and bigger, who made fun of me, and threatened to beat me up. Things haven't gotten any bet- ter. They are far, far worse, today, ifa recent survey is to be believed "America's kids are living in fear," is the lead line to a story from the San Francisco Examiner, syndi- cated by the Scripps Howard News Service. "Small children fear death, violence or abuse, while teenagers report that they or their peers are increasingly suicidal, according to a nationwide poll of young people conducted by an Oakland, Calif., advocacy organization. The study was prepared for Kaiser Permanente by Oakland's Children Now. It said large numbers of children ages seven to 10 had great fears for their safety: * 63 percent worried about dying young. " 71 percent feared getting shot or stabbed at home or school. * 70 percent were concerned about getting hit or slapped by an adult. Among boys ages 14 to 17, the survey reported the following items: 39 percent said they or their friends had been assaulted or threatened with a weapon. By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR 26 percent reported they or their friends had been victims of gang violence. And among girls, 14 to 17: 40 percent reported knowing someone who had been hit or beaten by a boyfriend. One-third had been, or knew someone who had been, physically abused. 26 percent knew someone who had suffered sexual abuse. The poll found that older chil- dren were more exposed to health and safety threats than were younger children. Exposure, however, was not limited to ethnic groups or social circumstances. White children from two-parent families reported high levels of exposure to gangs, drug abuse, sexual abuse and suicide. * * * A priest involved in working with young people once pointed out that many religious educators seem to be unconnected with the reality of growing up today. The kids walk to school past drug houses and shooting scenes, and come to church where adult planners have put up balloons and rainbows. The point may have been exaggerated, but not by much, if we believe only half of what that survey reported. * * * Is there any hope in all of this? Read carefully, please. 14 percent of children ages seven to 101 ported that they are aware of gangs 31 percent of students ages 15 to or their acquaintances have joined gangs. 62 percent of the teenagers who viewed told the pollsters that their gangs to achieve a sense of belonging, trouble. , , * Talk about "belonging" with the and old, who live in your home, or in your friends. To whom do they glance, or kinship? Within your own family of origin, whom did you feel security or safety? with whom do you find security * $ Take the time today to do one increase the safety or security, the sense ing, for a child or a teen. Examine your own home, or hood, your parish school or your public more importantly, pay attention to one son -- one at a time. If every one who reads this column did thing for one other person, the impact nomenal. Your comments and questions are come at the Christian Family Movement, 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. Telephone Washington Letter Religion and public schools: Will the two ever By CAROL ZIMME Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) There are some things Ameri- cans can't seem to stop talking about, and apparently religion in public schools is one of them. For the fourth time in a year, a new set of guidelines has been issued, detailing the parameters for allowing prayer and other religious expressions or observances in the nation's public schools. The newest batch of expla- nations, called "A Parent's Guide toReligion in the Public Schools," was released by the Freedom Forum in Arlington, Va., during a Dec. 7 press con- ference. Its supporters make no claims that the guidelines will solve the country's ongoing de- bate, but they do hope the clear specifications will lay the groundwork for open dialogue. U.S. Education Secretary . Richard Riley, who issued sim- ii The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evanswl/e Punisher ............. Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger Etor ...................................... Paul R. Leingang Pr0ductKm Technician ............... Joseph Dietrich Aesng .................................... Paul Newland Saff Writer ............................ Mary Ann Hughes Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $15.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2nd class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- tn number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication C.,pyng 1995 Cafi'[:c Press of Evans ilar guidelines this summer for school districts, gave his bless- ing on the guide for parents. It is "long overdue and an- other important step" in find- ing common ground, he said during the press conference. He also said his guidelines, sent under the recommenda- tion of President Clinton, have been well received. As proof, he said 80 percent of respondents to a survey of the American Association of School Administrators found his guidelines helpful. One re, spondent said they should set straight those that think "no religion (in schools) at all is the only acceptable position." But religion does and should have a place in schools, accord- ing to all the guides. It just has to have its proper place. For example, the latest guide tells parents, yes, their children can pray, read the Bible, discuss their faith, join religious clubs, wear religious symbols or dis- tribute religious literature in public schools, as long as they are not disruptive or coercive. Likewise, students can be taught about religious holi- days, but those holidays cannot celebrated, and religions can be studied, just without devo- tion or indoctrination. The only gray area in the guide is whether students may say prayers at school gradua- tions; lower courts are still di- vided on that issue. The effort to give parents the courts' interpretations of First Amendment principles was applauded by Joan Dyk- stra, president of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, who said the par- ent's guide would be dis- tributed to the 30,000 local PTA presidents. "This way we'll be educating all parents with the same lan- guage and answers," she said. Not only putting parents in the know, but working for posi- tive action seems to be a major thrust of the guide, which be- gins with a phrase familiar to many Catholics: "Parents are recognized as having the pri- mary responsibility for the up- bringing of their children." Haynes hopes that once par- ents are more clear about stu- dents' religious rights, they will cut back on some of the shouting matches and lawsuits that currently prevail through- out the country on this issue. He also hopes that the coun- try as a whole could "get be- Reacting to Mass stats To the editor:. Let's face it, the new liturgy is boring. Its pedestrian lan- guage and over-simplified cere- monies are dull. There is no devotion, no reverence, no mys- tery or majesty. It would take a saint to make it devotional and God knows how few priests are saints today,. Worship is more than going down to the third grade level. Then add juvenile and cowboy hymns and it is almost more than a person can endure. Reg- ular Mass attendance is down to 25 percent. It seems the peo- ple are willing to suffer the pains of purgatory more than suffer through the new liturgy. Father Rawley Myers Colorado Springs, Colo. yond the school prayer debate" that he said has "paralyzed us" and begin to talk about some- thing pro-active, such as how values can be taught in public schools. This may be the one point where religion and public schools can truly meet and agree. "Without supporting or un- dermining religion, we can re- inforce honesty, compassion and respect in our schools," said Haynes. "We have to begin doing that." Bill Bennett, former secre- tary of education, and author of "The Book of Virtues," would no doubt say "Amen" to that. During a Dec. 5 congres- sional hearing before the Over- sight and Investigations Sub- committee, Bennett emphasized the importance of teaching val- ues in public schools. "We can get the values Americans share back into our classrooms," he said. "Yes, we are a diverse people. We have always been a diverse people .... But there are values that all American citizens share and that we should want all Ameri- can students to know and em- body: honesty, fairness, self- discipline, fidelity, love of country, and the principles of liberty and the freedom one's faith." Bennett said teaching value s home, but schools Their role in he said, was the nation itself." The former tary said l; that their child's tain policies that behavior and also employ cipals "who not difference between wrong, but who to live that of their students." Patricia named Calit the year in 1993, She said families, local communitie work together to students for the As she sees it, easy answers, like school prayer, th today's studentS. federally force fa ithl than we can legislaW said. Bishop's sched The following activities and events are listed schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger: i