US Bishops Offer 10 Tips to Protect Youth

Mark Child Abuse Prevention Month

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WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops' conference is offering a series of tips to protect young people from abuse, as dioceses nationwide renew their efforts to keep children safe.



On Monday, the conference publicized the ten points, which were developed by Teresa Kettelkamp, executive director of the Secretariat for Children and Young People.

Throughout April, which is designated Child Abuse Prevention Month, the staff of the various dioceses nationwide are renewing their programs and efforts to protect young people.

The conference noted that this has been a "key effort" of the Church since the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Using as a basis the data compiled by the Church after facing several cases of sexual abuse by clergy, Kettelkamp made a synthesis of ten tips for protecting children.

"Sexual molestation is about the victim," she said. "Many people are affected when a priest abuses a minor, but the individual most impacted is the victim who has suffered a violation of trust that can affect his or her entire life."

Kettelkamp reminded the faithful that "no one has the right to have access to children."

She reiterated, "No one, no matter who they are, has an automatic right to be around children or young people who are in the care of the church without proper screening and without following the rules."

"Common sense is not all that common," Kettelkamp noted.

She added, "It is naive to presume that people automatically know boundaries so organizations and families have to spell them out."

Safety barriers

The executive director affirmed that "child sexual abuse can be prevented."

She encouraged Church members to "build safety barriers around children and young people to keep them from harm," in the form of "protective guardians, codes of conduct, background evaluations, policies and procedures, and safety training programs."

"The residual effects of having been abused can last a lifetime," Kettelkamp said.

She noted, however, that "relief from hurt and anger often comes when one feels heard, when one's pain and concerns are taken seriously, and a victim/survivor's appropriate sense of rage and indignation are acknowledged."

The list of tips warned: "Experience shows that most abuse is at the hands of someone who has gained the trust of a victim/survivor and his/her family. Most abuse also occurs in the family setting."

"Training and education help adults recognize grooming techniques that are precursors to abuse," it noted.

Kettelkamp explained: "Some abusers isolate a potential victim by giving him or her undue attention or lavish gifts.

"Another common grooming technique is to allow young people to participate in activities which their parents or guardians would not approve, such as watching pornography, drinking alcohol, using drugs, and excessive touching, which includes wrestling and tickling."

She reminded her readers that "background checks in churches, schools and other organizations keep predators away from children both because they scare off some predators and because they uncover past actions which should ban an adult from working or volunteering with children."

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On the Net:

Ten Tips for Protecting Children: www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2010/10-066.shtml