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In an effort to provide those who visit this site with up-to-date information regarding  events or stories of interest happening within the diocese, the Secretariat for Communications researches and prepares articles and news releases. 

Access to the most recent news is available under "News Headlines" on the home page.  Copies of old stories are available by accessing the Archives at the end of the News and Press Release section.

Child Abuse Protection Month

04/02/2010

April was first declared “Child Abuse Prevention Month” by Presidential proclamation in 1985. Since then, organizations throughout the country have used this special time each year to acknowledge the important of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse in all its forms. Child abuse and neglect remains a national problem. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2008, there were 772,000 reported victims of child abuse and neglect in our country; 27,383 in Michigan alone. Imagine if a disease claimed that many young lives. What would be our national response? Abuse, even if it is not fatal, robs a life and damages a child's spirit. It changes who that person is on a fundamental level. A hallmark of the Catholic Church is the protection of life and the dignity of the human person. Through scripture and Catholic teachings we are called to protect the life and dignity of all human persons no matter how young or old. Working to prevent child abuse is an important response of what we are called to do as Church. The Diocese of Gaylord, along with dioceses across the United States, has implemented many efforts to protect children in our parishes and in our communities. Since 2003, the diocese has required background checks of all employees as well as all volunteers who regularly work with children and youth. In addition, these adults are required to undergo safe environment training to help them recognize the signs and what to do if they suspect a child is being abused or neglected in any way. The diocese provides training materials to parishes and schools and maintains an online training program (accessible through www.shieldthevulnerable.org) for adults that can be taken at no charge by anyone with an interest in learning about child abuse and neglect as well as diocesan policies and procedures. This year, the diocese also implemented the “Circle of Grace” curriculum which is required to be offered to all children and youth enrolled in any parish religious education programs and Catholic schools. “We’ve been especially excited about this new program for training our youth,” remarked Tom Tenerovicz, Human Resources Manager for the Diocese who also serves as the Safe Environment Coordinator. “It not only provides the traditional lessons for healthy and unhealthy boundaries, but goes beyond to integrate the concepts that every person is sacred and exists within a circle of God’s love and grace.” Thousands of adults and children in the diocese have received training over the past seven years to help protect children and promote safer environments. While efforts of the diocese are ongoing, during Child Abuse Prevention Month, the diocese has provided special bulletin announcements to parishes to help increase awareness of the issues and has posted additional materials on this website. For more information on diocesan efforts and policies, click on the "Child Protection" link on the left of this page. The Catholic Church has done more to protect children than almost any other organization in the United States. Consider:

  • Safe Environment training is taking place in 193 dioceses/eparchies of the country. Over 2 million adults have been trained to recognize the behavior of offenders and what to do about it.
  • Over 5 million children have been equipped with the skills to help them protect themselves from abuse.
  • Background checks are conducted on Church personnel who have contact with children. Over 2 million volunteers and employees; 52,000 clerics; 6,205 candidates for ordination have had their backgrounds evaluated.
  • All dioceses/eparchies have Codes of Conduct which let people know what can and cannot be done as well as letting others know what behavior can be expected.
  • All dioceses/eparchies have Victim Assistance Coordinators, assuring victims that they will be heard. In 2009, $6,536,109 was spent on therapy for the victims of clergy sexual abuse.
  • All dioceses/eparchies have Safe Environment Coordinators who assure the ongoing compliance to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. There is a Zero Tolerance policy on abusers since 2002. If a credible accusation is made against a cleric, they are permanently removed from ministry regardless of how long ago the offense occurred.
  • Dioceses/eparchies require intensive background screening as well as psychological testing for those wishing to enter the seminary. Parishes are encouraged to use the materials below to help promote an awareness of child abuse and neglect issues and to work toward prevention and healing.
The Catholic Church has worked hard to protect children. Much has done but more needs to be done. Until child sexual abuse is no longer a part of society, the Church will continue its efforts to stop it. In Michigan, several statewide and national initiatives also seek to bring awareness to the issue of child abuse prevention including “Blue Sunday” day of prayer. This year Blue Sunday is scheduled for April 25 during which faith-based organizations are asked to read the Blue Sunday Prayer or devote time to discuss child abuse prevention. Also in April, the Children’s Trust Fund has encouraged participation in “Pinwheels for Protection.” Thousands of pinwheels will spin in courthouse, school, library and city hall "gardens" in more than 28 Michigan counties throughout the month of April to call attention to the importance of child abuse and neglect prevention. The pinwheel is a national symbol for child abuse and neglect prevention because it is reflective of the bright future all children deserve.

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