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.
For more information about what all of us can do to help prevent child abuse and neglect in our own communities, check out www.childwelfare.gov or download their Prevention Resource Guide HERE.