As your Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Davenport, I am pleased with the opportunity The Catholic Messenger provides me to share information about sexual abuse prevention and awareness.
Since my last column in The Messenger, Bishop Martin Amos, Deacon David Montgomery and I have completed 54 Atonement Services throughout the diocese. The services were a valuable experience for each of us.
Although the Atonement services have concluded, that is no indication that our work is complete with respect to remembering what has happened in our past. It does serve as a reminder to be ever vigilant. We need to continue to reach out to those who have been abused and to the best of our ability make sure that all of us take a leadership role to protect all children in every community.
I recently attended the Children Exposed to Domestic Violence 2010 Annual Conference, sponsored by the Child Abuse Council. Two of the breakout sessions opened the audience’s eyes more than I can tell you. One was titled “The Online Sexual Indoctrination of Children & Teens” and the other one was “Angry Kids: Continued Victimization of Self and Others.”
One of the presenters received an online chat during his presentation, the content of which saddened me. The presenter pointed out that children/adolescents are vulnerable in various ways.
Do you know what those vulnerabilities are? Do you realize that the average age of a child to go online and connect with a possible abuser is age 11? Do you remember how life was for you at age 11?
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Let us be proactive by monitoring what our children/adolescents are doing online.