Safe Environment coordinator offers resources for Child Abuse Prevention Month

By Maureen Smith
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about abuse and educating the community about strategies to combat abuse and neglect. It’s a busy month for Vickie Carollo, the Safe Environment Coordinator for the Diocese of Jackson and the head of the Office for the Protection of Children.

Carollo is always collecting and updating the latest resources related to abuse prevention, statistics and tools ministers, teachers and Catholic community members can use to combat abuse. Starting in March, she shares a new set of resources with leaders in the parishes.

“This month is an excellent time to focus on awareness and to learn more about prevention and education and how we can better protect all our children. Child abuse is an unthinkable crime; hurting, wounding and molesting our society’s most vulnerable and innocent population. It is horrid, yet it happens to hundreds of thousands of our children every year,” she wrote in her email to them.

“The Catholic church has worked very hard to protect children. Much has been done, but more needs to be done. It takes all of us working together to provide a safe environment for our children and young people, not only in our churches and schools, but also in our homes and communities. Together, we can all play a part toward eradication of child abuse,” it went on to say.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) uses the month to reiterate its “Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal” campaign. This effort helps spread the word about the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and gives Catholics a place to look for what measures are in place to protect young people in churches and schools. The Catholic Church has trained more than 4.5 million people and run more than two million background checks as part of its child protection efforts.

There are a number of new safety and education resources available to parents and parish leaders. See the sidebar for some of the ones Carollo recommends: