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SCALABRINIANOS
Setembro 2019
WASHINGTON—As schools launch a new academic year, millions of children also are set to learn the ABC’s of child protection. In Catholic schools and parishes nationwide, safe environment training gives children the skills necessary to protect themselves from would be-offenders. Mary Jane Doerr, associate director of the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has listed here some of the messages children hear in safe environment programs.
  1. Abuse is never a child’s fault, a point that children need to hear over and over again. Offenders try hard to make children feel complicit in the abuse or to blame them for the abuse.  Children learn that that is never true! The blame always belongs to the adult who is taking advantage of a child’s trust and vulnerabilities.
  2. God loves children forever and wants them to live holy and happy lives. If a child has been abused, that child learns they are still innocent and loved by God and their families. The shame of child sexual abuse needs to be put where it belongs: on the abuser.
  3. Abuse that has happened should be reported. Children learn to tell a parent or another trusted adult if someone is hurting them and to keep telling until they are believed. One study shows that children tell of their abuse an average of nine times before someone believes them. Parents can help children learn whom they can trust by pointing out the adults who can be trusted. Parents can also teach children the correct names of private body parts. This simple step gives children the vocabulary to tell others what happened to them.
  4. You can recognize abuse when it happens. Children learn to trust that feeling that says something isn’t right and to tell a parent or other trusted adult when something happens that makes them feel uneasy. Children learn to question if someone is telling them to do what the child doesn’t like but says it is because he loves the child. Children learn to tell parents or trusted adult if another person makes them sad or confused or tries to get them to break rules. This can stop the process of grooming by which an abuser lures a child toward danger. A child who questions another’s inappropriate behavior can send a message to the offender that this child is not an easy target, but one that will tell what is being done to him/her.
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