National Child Abuse Prevention Month highlights importance of protecting minors

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PROVIDENCE — Every April, Catholic parishes and schools across the United States participate in National Child Abuse Prevention Month. While the Diocese of Providence works year-round to prevent abuse, during this month a special emphasis is placed on the importance of learning how to protect the vulnerable from this evil.

These efforts are part of the ongoing work of the Church in the United States to carry out the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a comprehensive set of procedures originally established by the USCCB in June 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse. It was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018.

The Charter directs action in all the following matters: Creating a safe environment for children and young people; healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors; making prompt and effective response to allegations; cooperating with civil authorities and disciplining offenders. The Charter also includes providing for means of accountability for the future to ensure the problem continues to be effectively dealt with through the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board.

The Catholic Church is committed to ensuring the safety of children and young people and providing pastoral outreach to victims and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy. The Church’s mission to protect and heal stems from the Gospel: the life and teachings of Jesus Christ provide us with the perfect foundation for our efforts to create safe environments for children.

For the nine days in the month of April, faithful are encouraged pray that the vulnerable are protected from abuse, and that survivors of abuse may be accompanied on their paths to healing.