by Deacon Stephen Bowling
As our Lenten observance this year comes to a close, I cannot help but feel a sense of trepidation. I know the stories we will relive in the coming days. The Passion itself looms large in my mind and I cannot help but face it like Jesus surely did . . . with a sense of profound sorrow and dread.
We often carry forward our attitudes from childhood and this time of the year is no different. Christmas for me was always a time of joy and anticipation . . . whereas Good Friday always seemed to be a scary but necessary moment which mentally stood in the way of my properly remembering the Easter miracle.
I now know better of course . . . but that feeling of dread still persists in me for some reason. And in feeling that dread in myself, I cannot help but think about those who may live with feelings like that all the time . . .
April is National Child Abuse Prevention month. It is a time for us to make a real and concentrated effort to try and take away those feelings of dread in a young person’s life. Something as simple as wearing the blue ribbon really does make a difference in calling attention to the fact that we as a society will not tolerate abuse of one another by anyone for any reason . . . most especially the smallest and most vulnerable among us.
More than five children die every day in this country as a result of child abuse and neglect, and up to 15 million children witness domestic violence in their homes each year. The numbers are indeed staggering . . . but there is hope.
Prevention is, of course, key. Just a few of the ways to combat child abuse in our local parishes and communities are to:
- Develop family strengthening programs and initiatives that provide families with better access to existing services & resources to help support positive family interactions.
- Create and fund widespread awareness campaigns providing info on how and where to report suspected child abuse and neglect.
- Provide a support system of role models for new parents.
These are just a few of the ways to make a difference and the Family Ministries Office is available to assist parishes in providing help to those in need in this area.