This page contains an archive of the older "Did You Know?" bulletin items from March 28, 2005 until December 27, 2010.
 
 

December 27, 2010

Keep holiday parties safe for children
Wine, cocktails and spiked eggnog may make your holidays festive, but they’re no party for young children. Children often accidentally drink alcohol after holiday parties, by sampling partially empty glasses and what’s left in the punch bowl. Ingesting as little as 3 ounces of hard liquor potentially can be fatal to a child weighing 25 pounds. Alcohol causes blood sugar levels to drop, which can lead to confusion, seizures or even comas. Clear away all glasses and other alcoholic containers immediately as soon as guests leave after your holiday party. Keep the poison control center phone number programmed in your phone and posted on your refrigerator: 800 222 1222.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 20, 2010

Ensure a safe road trip this holiday
Taking the kids on a road trip to visit relatives and friends is a holiday tradition for many of us. Here are two tips that can help you get there and back as safely as possible:
  1. Ensure that all occupants of any vehicles are properly secured and that there are no large or heavy items in the vehicle that may injure the occupants at any sudden stops.
  2. A single parent travelling with children should ensure that permission from other parent is readily available for authorities (this is to prevent one parent abductions). This is especially important for air/train or cross border travel.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 13, 2010

Safety tips for parents traveling with children
Traveling with kids during the holidays can be a challenge, especially with the added worry of safety thrown into the mix. Here are some suggestions parents can use to help ensure their children’s safety while traveling:
  1. Prior to leaving on your holiday, remind children about your family safety procedures for dealing with strangers and what to do if they get lost.
  2. Keep a recent photo of children handy, also a photocopy of passports kept in a safe place or with a relative that can fax it to you in case of loss.
  3. If you label children’s clothing, make sure the label is inside so strangers are not able to learn child’s name.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 6, 2010

Shopping mall safety tips
It’s easy for kids to get sidetracked with all the sights, sounds, and smells surrounding us at holiday time. It is especially important to monitor your children when taking them through the mall during the Christmas season. If children become separated from you, teach them to look for a “safe stranger” who can help them. For example, a mom with kids or the cash register person can help a child who is lost. Avoid telling children to go to the “manager.” Any adult in a suit, who looks important, can look like the manager to a child. Children must be told never to leave the mall or store to go looking for you in the parking lot. Let them know that you would never go outside or leave until you are reunited -- no matter what anyone else tells them.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 29, 2010

Take the Child Safety Quiz
Parents, guardians, and adults who care for children face constant challenges when trying to help keep children safer in today’s fast-paced world. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers easy-to-use safety resources to help address these challenges. NCMEC’s Web site offers a range of practical information for parents and guardians that will help keep children safe from harm. The site also features an interactive quiz on child safety designed for both adults and children. To take the quiz, visit the NCMEC Web site and click on “Child Safety”: www.missingkids.com. For particular help, call the parish Safeguard the Children committee.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 22, 2010

Mandatory Background Checks Promote Safe Environments
Every teacher, coach, and volunteer who works with children in the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s parishes and schools must have a background check before he or she is permitted to work in any school- or parish-related job or activity that involves contact with children. Around the nation, Catholic (arch)dioceses have conducted criminal record checks on more than 1.5 million volunteers and employees; 163,705 educators; 51,000 clergy; and 4,955 candidates for ordination. For more information on background check requirements in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children Office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 15, 2010

Always Keep an Up-to-Date Photo of Your Child
Picture this: A good photo could save a child’s life. One of the most important tools for law enforcement in the case of a missing child is an up-to-date (take a new one every six months), good-quality photograph. The photograph should be a recent head-and-shoulders color photograph of the child in which the face is clearly seen. It should be of school-portrait quality, and the background should be plain or solid so it does not distract from the subject. When possible, the photograph should be in a digitized form and available on a compact disk (CD), as opposed to just a hard copy. This minimizes the time necessary to scan, resize, and make color corrections before disseminating it to law enforcement. The photograph should have space for accurate, narrative description useful to identify the child, such as name, nickname, height, weight, sex, age, eye color, identifying marks, glasses, and braces. For more information, please visit: www.missingkids.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 8, 2010

Abuse Prevention Training of Kids Nears 6 Million Mark
Did you know that the Catholic church in the U.S. has prepared more than 5.7 million children to recognize abuse and protect themselves? Age-appropriate child safety programs are mandatory throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Please contact the parish office for more information about the safe environment training programs for children in our parish, or call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children Office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 1, 2010

Office of Assistance Ministry Helps Victims
The Office of Victims Assistance Ministry of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles deals with allegations of past or current sexual abuse by clergy, religious and any lay person working or volunteering for the archdiocese. The office was charged with creating a safe and compassionate environment for victims to come forward, while ensuring that civil au­thorities are notified and victims are provided counsel­ing and other assistance in the healing process. Directed by Suzanne Healy, the office also advises Catholic parishes and schools coping with issues of sexual abuse of minors. Ms. Healy may be reached by calling 213 637 7650. The hotline number to report sexual abuse is 800 355 2545.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 25, 2010

Abuse Prevention Training Nears 2 Million
Did you know that every person working with children and youth in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is mandated to attend VIRTUS training? The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has trained more than 100,000 adults in the VIRTUS program. Nationwide, more than 1.7 million clergy, educators, employees and volunteers have been trained in how to create safe environments and prevent child sexual abuse. For more information on how you can help keep children safe, please contact the parish office or call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 18, 2010

Tips For a Happy & Safe Halloween – II
To help ensure that Halloween is a fun and exciting time for children, here are a few more common sense safety tips:
 
  1. Children should wear light-colored clothing that’s short enough to prevent tripping. Parents also may want to add reflective tape to the costume.
  2. Buy Halloween that feature a flame-resistant or flame-retardant label.
  3. Use sidewalks when available and begin trick-or-treating before sunset.
  4. Each child should carry a flashlight or glow stick.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 11, 2010

Tips For a Happy & Safe Halloween – I
To help ensure that Halloween is a fun and exciting time for children, it is good to review a few common sense safety tips:
  1. Parents shouldn’t allow their children to eat or sample any candy before it’s checked. Throw away all unwrapped candy, popcorn and caramel apples unless they come from a trusted source.
  2. Parents should accompany young children or groups of children when trick-or-treating.
  3. Walk with friends and stay together.
  4. Stay within your own neighborhood or areas with which you are familiar, and only visit homes with lit porch lights.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 4, 2010

Children & Youth Sexual Abuse Prevention Programs
“Child sexual abuse prevention includes empowering children by teaching them body safety rules and steps they can take to ensure their own safety. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles currently offers the following age-appropriate prevention programs for children: VIRTUS Teaching Touching Safely; Good-Touch/Bad-Touch; Archdiocese of Los Angeles Prevention Program. Parishes/schools can select from the programs listed above. All these programs encourage parent involvement in reinforcing what their children learn…so that parents may fulfill their role as the ‘primary educators’ of their children.’” From the pamphlet, “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy & Holy,” published annually by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The 2010 pamphlet is available in the parish and online at: archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 27, 2010

Archdiocesan Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policies
“The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has implemented rigorous policies and procedures to provide safe environments in our parishes and parish schools for all children and young people. These include: ‘Zero Tolerance’; Guidelines for Adults Working or Volunteering with Minors; Boundary Guidelines for Junior High and High School Youth Working or Volunteering with Children or Youth; Megan’s Law Compliance Procedures. These and other policies are available online at: www.archdiocese.la/protecting.” From the pamphlet, “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy & Holy,” published annually by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The 2010 pamphlet is available in the parish and online at: archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 20, 2010

Reporting Child Abuse
“Priests, deacons, school faculty and administrators and other staff members in our parishes and schools have been designated as mandated reporters under California law. When one of these persons receives information leading to a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that a child is being abused or neglected, he or she must make a report to the appropriate child protection or law enforcement agency.” From the 2010 pamphlet, “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy & Holy,” published annually by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The pamphlet is available in the parish and online at: archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 13, 2010

Always Keep an Up-to-Date Photo of Your Child
Picture this: A good photo could save a child’s life. One of the most important tools for law enforcement in the case of a missing child is an up-to-date (take a new one every six months), good-quality photograph. The photograph should be a recent head-and-shoulders color photograph of the child in which the face is clearly seen. It should be of school-portrait quality, and the background should be plain or solid so it does not distract from the subject. When possible, the photograph should be in a digitized form and available on a compact disk (CD), as opposed to just a hard copy. This minimizes the time necessary to scan, resize, and make color corrections before disseminating it to law enforcement. The photograph should have space for accurate, narrative description useful to identify the child, such as name, nickname, height, weight, sex, age, eye color, identifying marks, glasses, and braces. For more information, please visit: www.missingkids.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 6, 2010

Ensuring Your Child’s School Is Safe
Every teacher, coach, and volunteer who works with children in the archdiocese’s parishes and schools must have a background check before he or she is permitted to work in any school- or parish-related job or activity that involves contact with children. But what about the children who attend non-Catholic private or public schools? Talk with school administrators and find out what steps they take to protect children from harm. Suggest that they review other abuse prevention programs to ensure that their policies and practices are up to date. And demand that all employees and volunteers who work in the school be properly screened, including background checks, before they are allowed to be near your children. For more information, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 30, 2010

How is compliance with child prevention efforts verified?
While background checks and fingerprinting of all those who work with children in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are important, they are used in conjunction with abuse awareness and prevention training programs to help ensure that we create the safest possible parish and school environments for our children. An archdiocesan background-tracking information system, Volunteer and Personnel Information Network (VPIN), tracks assignment histories and compliance by employees and volunteers of fingerprinting, background checks and mandatory VIRTUS sexual abuse prevention training. VPIN allows parishes and schools to adapt features of the system to fit their local needs and it assists the archdiocese to complete its audit reports.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 23, 2010

Child safety resources for the Spanish-speaking
Nearly 800,000 children are reported missing to law enforcement each year. One in five is Hispanic. But, by working together we can help reduce the incidents of missing and exploited children in Hispanic communities across the United States. The commitment to help our children transcends ethnicity, reflects American spirit, and is nobly exemplified in the Hispanic community. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children offers easy-to-use safety resources in English and Spanish to help parents and guardians protect children. For more information, visit the NCMEC website: www.missingkids.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 9 and 16, 2010

The prevalence of abuse in society
In surveys of adults, one out of five women and one out of ten men reported that they were sexually molested before they were 18 years old. This means that an estimated 40 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse are living in the United States today. An estimated 9.6 percent of all school children will be molested by an educator or an employee of a school between kindergarten and 12th grade. Between 13 and 34 percent of all females will be victims of sexual assault before the age of 18, and 7 to 16 percent of all males will also be victimized before they are 18. For particular help you may call Suzanne Healy, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 2, 2010

Report inappropriate or illegal content on the Internet
One of the main reasons that children do not report the inappropriate content they find online is fear of punishment from parents. If you let them know that it is not their fault if they come across an inappropriate site, they will be more willing to come to you when it happens. If your children ever show you a site that contains illegal behavior, such as pornographic images of children, contact your Internet Service Provider and the CyberTipline at: www.cybertipline.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 26, 2010

Safety tips for children traveling alone
Take time to discuss appropriate behavior with your child before he or she boards an airplane alone. If another passenger acts in an inappropriate way, be sure that your child knows to inform a flight attendant or other airline representative. Inappropriate behavior on the part of other passengers includes rude, offensive, or threatening comments; inappropriate touching; inappropriate conversations; taking food or other items away from the child; or other behavior that makes the child uncomfortable or fearful. In addition, inappropriate behavior would include any attempt to elicit personal information about the child. Make sure that you child understands that no passenger they meet needs to know things such as their full name, their home address, their telephone number, or where they are going.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 19, 2010

What to know before your child boards the airplanes
Every airline has slightly different policies on how they accommodate unaccompanied children. Take special note of their policies for escorting children at connection airports and accommodations in the event that the flight is delayed or diverted. Note that some airlines policies do not include providing overnight accommodations and the airline may turn over your child to local authorities if the flight is delayed overnight. General information and insights concerning airline policies are available at www.AirSafe.com. Click on “Airline Rules for Unaccompanied Children.”
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 12, 2010

Child Abuse Data: Breaking Down the Numbers
Of the approximately 794,000 children found to be victims of child abuse or neglect in 2007, 59 percent suffered neglect, 10.8 percent were physically abused, 7.6 percent were sexually abused, 4.2 percent were emotionally or psychologically maltreated, and less than 1 percent were medically neglected. In addition, 13.1 percent of victims experienced “other” types of maltreatment such as “abandonment,” “threats of harm to the child,” and “congenital drug addiction.” These maltreatment type percentages total more than 100 percent because children who were victims of more than one type of maltreatment were counted for each maltreatment.
More information is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm07.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 5, 2010

Child abuse is a national problem
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services there were 794,000 reported child abuse victims in 2007 alone. Imagine if a disease claimed that manyyoung lives. What would be our national response? Abuse, even if it is not fatal, robs a life and damages a child’s spirit. It changes who that person is on a fundamental level. For information on how you can become more informed and involved in keeping our children safe, please call the parish office or visit: http://www.archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 28, 2010

Protecting children from Abuse
There are 25,857 Catholic parishes and schools in the United States. If every Catholic parish or school could stop just one child from being abused we could make a tremendous difference. Abuse prevention training programs are available on a regular basis in English and Spanish throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. These programs only take a few hours to complete. To locate a training program near you, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 21, 2010

Possible Indicators of Child Abuse and Neglect
A key to reporting child abuse and neglect is being able to recognize common indicators. In a parent, the following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect: Shows little concern for the child. Blames the child for the child’s problems in school or at home. Asks teachers or other caretakers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves. Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome. To learn more about child abuse prevention, visit: http://archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 14, 2010

Mandatory Background Checks Promote Safe Environments
Every teacher, coach, and volunteer who works with children in the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s parishes and schools must have a background check before he or she is permitted to work in any school- or parish-related job or activity that involves contact with children. Around the nation, Catholic (arch)dioceses have conducted criminal record checks on more than 1.5 million volunteers and employees; 163,705 educators; 51,000 clergy; and 4,955 candidates for ordination. For more information on background check requirements in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children Office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 7, 2010

How is compliance with child abuse prevention efforts verified?
While background checks and fingerprinting of all those who work with children in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are important, they are used in conjunction with abuse awareness and prevention training programs to help ensure that we create the safest possible parish and school environments for our children. An archdiocesan background-tracking information system, Volunteer and Personnel Information Network (VPIN), tracks assignment histories and compliance by employees and volunteers of fingerprinting, background checks and mandatory VIRTUS sexual abuse prevention training. VPIN allows parishes and schools to adapt features of the system to fit their local needs and it assists the archdiocese to complete its audit reports.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 31, 2010

Possible Indicators of Child Abuse and Neglect
A key to reporting child abuse and neglect is being able to recognize common indicators. In a parent, the following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect: Shows little concern for the child. Blames the child for the child’s problems in school or at home. Asks teachers or other caretakers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves. Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome. To learn more about child abuse prevention, visit: http://archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 24, 2010

Recognizing Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect
A key to reporting child abuse and neglect is being able to recognize common indicators. In children, the following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect: Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance. Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention. Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen. Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn. Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home. To learn more about child abuse prevention, visit: http://www.archdiocese.la/protecting/index.php.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at (213) 637-7650.

May 17, 2010

Helpful Tips for Childproofing Your Home
Though we often think of babies and toddlers when we hear the words "babyproofing" or "childproofing," unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under, with more than a third of these injuries happening at home. Have you removed the rubber tips from all doorstops? Have you checked that all used or hand-me-down baby equipment hasn’t been recalled? For helpful checklists on how to make your home safer for your young children, please visit: www.kidshealth.org and click on “First Aid & Safety.”
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 10, 2010

Choosing Safe Toys for Children
Millions of toys are out there, and hundreds of new ones hit the stores each year. Toys are supposed to be fun and are an important part of any child's development. But each year, scores of kids are treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries. Choking is a particular risk for kids ages 3 or younger, because they tend to put objects in their mouths. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors and regulates toys. For a helpful checklist on how to determine which toys are safest for young children, please visit: www.kidshealth.org and click on “First Aid & Safety.”
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 3, 2010

Violence and Teen Dating
Statistics show that one in three teenagers has experienced violence in a dating relationship. In dating violence, one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through some kind of abuse. Dating violence crosses economic, racial and social lines, most victims are young women who are also at higher risk for serious injury. For useful tips on how to recognize the warning signs that your teenager may be in an abusive dating relationship, please visit: www.safehorizonsofsomerset.org.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 26, 2010

Who are the perpetrators?
According to data provided by the L.A. City Attorney’s Office, parents constitute 84 percent of the child abuse perpetrators, while caregivers, relatives, foster parents, and babysitters constitute the rest. Sixty percent of perpetrators are female, whose median age is 31 years. Forty percent are male, whose median age is 34 years.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 19, 2010

Text Messaging: Know the Warning Signs
During Child Abuse Prevention month and the Archdiocese’s “Keep Kids Safe” campaign, let’s remember that monitoring a child’s Internet browsing and cell phone use are important and challenging aspects of being a parent. In keeping track of your child’s text messaging, with its dizzying array of coded abbreviations and symbols, there are some codes that every parent should keep his/her eyes open for. These are codes that kids use to warn others that their parents are around or that they use to talk about sex, drugs, or to arrange a meeting. A helpful tutorial for parents is located at http://knol.google.com. Type: “How to understand your kids’ text messages” in the search box.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 12, 2010

Support Archdiocese’s ‘Keep Kids Safe’ Campaign
April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month and “Keep Kids Safe” month in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. It is most appropriate that these events take place during the Easter Season, since there is no better time to celebrate the protection of our most valuable gift from God — our children. During this week, children in Catholic schools and Religious Education programs in the Archdiocese will wear bright blue ribbon-shaped stickers that say, “Keep Kids Safe.” The stickers are part of a campaign to highlight the Archdiocese’s extensive abuse prevention and education programs for children and adults. Support our parish and school in this campaign by contacting the parish office for more information on parish child safety activities, or call the Archdiocese Safeguard the Children Office, 213 637 7508.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 5, 2010

2010 ‘Working Together to Prevent Child Abuse’ brochure available now
Each year, every parish in the Archdiocese receives copies of “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy and Holy.” Published in English and Spanish, the brochure is a helpful guide to the sexual abuse prevention policies, programs and resources that have been developed by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Please look for the brochure in the parish vestibule or office. Please read it and keep it some place for easy reference. To see a copy of the brochure online, please visit http://archdiocese.la/protecting/resources/pdf/WorkingTogether2010.pdf.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 29, 2010

Review the Body Safety Rules that ‘Keep Kids Safe’
April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month, and “Keep Kids Safe” month in the Archdiocese. This month, parents and guardians should review with their children and teens the “Five Body Safety Rules.” These rules will help them to protect themselves from the harm of child sexual abuse.
  • Rule #1: It’s My Body – God wants me to be safe and happy. I have the right to know the body safety rules.
  • Rule #2: If I have the “Uh-Oh” feeling like something is wrong, then I am right! I need to ask questions.
  • Rule #3: If someone makes me feel uncomfortable, I have the right to say “NO!” and “GET AWAY!”
  • Rule #4: I should always tell if someone makes me feel uncomfortable or touches my private areas. I should keep telling until someone believes me.
  • Rule #5: If I am abused, it is never my fault.
For more information on child safety, please contact the parish office.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 22,, 2010

‘Keep Kids Safe’ During Child Abuse Prevention Month
During April, Catholic school and religious education students throughout the Archdiocese will wear bright blue ribbon-shaped stickers that say “Keep Kids Safe.” The Archdiocese’s “Keep Kids Safe” campaign coincides with national Child Abuse Prevention Month. Children will be reviewing important child safety lessons this month. Parishes are also being encouraged to include in their liturgies this month specially prepared petitions that ask God to heal abuse victims and their families. “Keep Kids Safe” stickers may be ordered from the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Office by emailing or calling Tim Olshefski at: tolshefski@la-archdiocese.org or 213 637 7508.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 15,, 2010

Abuse Prevention Training of Kids Nears 6 Million Mark
Did you know that the Catholic church in the U.S. has prepared more than 5.7 million children to recognize abuse and protect themselves? Age-appropriate child safety programs are mandatory throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Please contact the parish office for more information about the safe environment training programs for children in our parish, or call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children Office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 8, 2010

Is Safety Training Effective for Kids?
Did you know that national and international studies show that children who participated in prevention education programs like VIRTUS, were six to seven times more likely to demonstrate protective behavior – to be more assertive, speak up, and disclose abuse or suspected abuse – than children who had not participated in such programs? Research supports the effectiveness of abuse prevention training of our children. For more information about what our parish and school are doing to teach children to be safe, please contact the parish office or the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children Office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 1, 2010

CyberTipline
CyberTipline offers a means of reporting incidents of child sexual exploitation including the possession, manufacture, and/or distribution of child pornography; online enticement; child prostitution; child sex tourism, etc. Mandated by Congress, CyberTipline allows the public to assist all levels of law enforcement by providing one streamlined reporting tool that enhances information sharing and collaborative efforts to combat these crimes. Reports may be made 24-hours a day, 7 days a week online at www.cybertipline.com or by calling 800 843 5678.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 22, 2010

Sign Up for Wireless Amber Alerts
The first three hours after a child is abducted are the most critical to recovery efforts. Wireless AMBER Alerts, an initiative of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the wireless industry, have the potential to reach more than 242 million wireless subscribers with information to help bring abducted children home quickly and safely. You can sign up to receive free text message alerts in one of three easy ways:
  1. Text AMBER followed by a space and five-digit ZIP code to AMBER (26237);
  2. Visit www.wirelessamberalerts.org; or
  3. Register on your wireless carrier’s Web site.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 15, 2010

Office of Assistance Ministry Helps Victims
The Office of Victims Assistance Ministry of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles deals with allegations of past or current sexual abuse by clergy, religious and any lay person working or volunteering for the archdiocese. The office was charged with creating a safe and compassionate environment for victims to come forward, while ensuring that civil au¬thorities are notified and victims are provided counsel¬ing and other assistance in the healing process. Directed by Suzanne Healy, the office also advises Catholic parishes and schools coping with issues of sexual abuse of minors. Ms. Healy may be reached by calling 213 637 7650. The hotline number to report sexual abuse is 800 355 2545.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 8, 2010

Abuse Prevention Training Nears 2 Million
Did you know that every person working with children and youth in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is mandated to attend VIRTUS training? The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has trained more than 100,000 adults in the VIRTUS program. Nationwide, more than 1.7 million clergy, educators, employees and volunteers have been trained in how to create safe environments and prevent child sexual abuse. For more information on how you can help keep children safe, please contact the parish office or call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 1, 2010

What Is the National Review Board?
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops established the National Review Board (NRB) during their meeting in June of 2002. The purpose of the NRB is to collaborate with the USCCB in preventing the sexual abuse of minors in the United States by persons in the service of the Church. To view a video interview with Ms. Diane Knight, Chair of the NRB, about the board’s work, please visit: www.usccb.org/ocyp
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 25, 2010

Is Your Family Prepared for a Natural Disaster?
News reports on the recent earthquake in Haiti have shown how easily families can become separated during the chaos of a natural disaster. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children offers the following recommendations to all families potentially impacted by a natural disaster:
  • Know where your kids are at all times;
  • Stay together;
  • Take photos of your children with you when evacuated;
  • Give children identification information to carry with them, including the child’s name, date of birth, address, phone numbers, etc.;
  • E-mail digital photos of all family members to extended relatives and/or friends;
  • Photocopy important documents and mail to a friend/relative in a safe location;
  • Make a plan with your children, so they know what to do if your family becomes separated during an evacuation.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 18, 2010

Road to Priesthood Involves a Rigorous Formation Process
Seminary formation involves much more than academic study. Prior to ordination, a candidate for priesthood goes through a lengthy evaluation period, including an internship during which he lives in a rectory and works with priests, staff and parishioners. During this time, the candidate is judged as to his suitability to be a priest. No one is ordained unless the staff of St. John’s Seminary, including the lay faculty and formation advisers, concludes that the candidate has attained an emotional, psychological and sexual maturity appropriate for his age and for the celibate life of a priest. For more information, please visit www.archdiocese.la and click on the “Vocations” tab.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 11, 2010

CyberTipline Fights Internet Crimes Against Children
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other government agencies all work together to fight Internet crimes against children. They’ve established a “CyberTipline,” a reporting mechanism for cases of child sexual exploitation including child pornography, online enticement of children for sex acts, molestation of children outside the family, sex tourism of children, child victims of prostitution, and unsolicited obscene material sent to a child. Reports may be made—24 hours per day, seven days per week—online at www.cybertipline.com or by calling 800 843 5678.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 4, 2010

Get Involved in Parish Safety Programs
Parents and guardians play a key role in the success of parish programs for young people. Parents and guardians who are involved in parish programs and events will be in the best position to protect their own children as well as all the children in the parish community. Involvement and communication are important factors in helping to ensure safe environments for all of our children. Contact the parish office for more information on how you can become actively involved in the safe environment training programs in our parish.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 21 (and 28), 2009

Always Keep an Up-to-Date Photo of Your Child
Picture this: A good photo could save a child’s life. One of the most important tools for law enforcement in the case of a missing child is an up-to-date (take a new one every six months), good-quality photograph. The photograph should be a recent head-and-shoulders color photograph of the child in which the face is clearly seen. It should be of school-portrait quality, and the background should be plain or solid so it does not distract from the subject. When possible, the photograph should be in a digitized form and available on a compact disk (CD), as opposed to just a hard copy. This minimizes the time necessary to scan, resize, and make color corrections before disseminating it to law enforcement. The photograph should have space for accurate, narrative description useful to identify the child, such as name, nickname, height, weight, sex, age, eye color, identifying marks, glasses, and braces. For more information, please visit: www.missingkids.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 14, 2009

Five Tips for Safeguarding Children
The Archdiocese mandates that all people who work with children and youth in our parishes and schools must undergo child abuse prevention training through the VIRTUS program. The training details five steps to prevent child sexual abuse:
  1. Know the warning signs of an inappropriate relationship with a child.
  2. Control access to children by carefully selecting the adults who work with children and youth.
  3. Monitor all programs for the safety of children and youth.
  4. Be aware of and sensitive to what is going on in the lives of children.
  5. Communicate concerns to the appropriate person in authority.
For more information, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 7, 2009

Bullying Is a Form of Abuse
Did you know that bullying is a form of abuse, and therefore is forbidden in our Catholic schools? Bullying typically consists of direct behaviors, such as teasing, taunting, threatening, hitting, shoving and stealing. But it might also be indirect, such as spreading rumors that cause victims to be socially isolated through intentional exclusion. Cyberbullying, which involves the use of the Internet or mobile phones to send inappropriate messages and images to or about others, is also behavior that is not tolerated in our Catholic schools. If you suspect bullying of a child at school, please contact the school principal with your concerns.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 30, 2009

What’s Your Plan in the Event of an Emergency?
Did you know that every Catholic school in the Los Angeles Archdiocese is required to have a written plan for emergency procedures? The plan must include provisions for fire, earthquake, disaster and evacuation drills and lockdown procedures that conform to local, state and county requirements. Each school’s plan must be updated annually, and made available to parents. Does your own family have a similar plan for what to do and where to gather in the event of an emergency? City and County disaster preparedness agencies are a good resource to use for making your own emergency plan.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 23, 2009

Ensuring Your Child’s School Is Safe
Every teacher, coach, and volunteer who works with children in the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s parishes and schools must have a background check before he or she is permitted to work in any school- or parish-related job or activity that involves contact with children. But many of our children attend non-Catholic private or public schools. What steps do these schools take? Talk with school administrators and find out what steps they take to protect children from harm. Suggest that they review other abuse prevention programs to ensure that their policies and practices are up to date. And demand that all employees and volunteers who work in the school be properly screened, including background checks, before they are allowed to be near your children. For more information, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 16, 2009

Know the ‘Parent Warning Codes’
Text messaging is an increasingly integral part of the way young people communicate with their friends. But like other forms of communication, it can expose children to outside threats and unwanted contacts, even from sexual predators. That’s why it is important for parents to monitor their child’s use of text messaging. Young people are aware of their parents’ supervision and have developed text codes in response. These parent warning codes are codes that kids use to let whomever they are talking to know that it is not safe to talk. If you see these codes, you should instantly be suspicious. For example, “MOS” means “Mom over shoulder,” and “PIR” means “Parent in room.” A helpful tutorial for parents is located at www.mahalo.com. Type: “How to understand your kids’ text messages” in the search box.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 9, 2009

Monitoring Your Child’s Text Messages
Recent news reports included the story of a 35-year-old man exchanging explicit text messages with a 14-year-old girl. Being able to recognize text messaging “meeting codes” can help parents be more effective monitors of their child’s safety. Meeting codes are used by strangers to gain information about people they don’t know or to arrange a first meeting. They can be used between friends, but most are more commonly used in other circumstances. For example, “S2R” means “Send to receive (pictures),” and “WYRN” means “What’s your real name?” A helpful tutorial for parents is located at www.mahalo.com. Type: “How to understand your kids’ text messages” in the search box.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 2, 2009

Text Messaging: Know the Warning Signs
Monitoring your child’s Internet browsing and cell phone use are important and challenging aspects of being a parent. In keeping track of your child’s text messaging, with its dizzying array of coded abbreviations and symbols, there are some codes that every parent should keep his/her eyes open for. These are codes that kids use to warn others that their parents are around or that they use to talk about sex, drugs, or to arrange a meeting. For example, “KPC” means “keeping parents clueless,” and “LMIRL” means “Let’s meet in real life.” A helpful tutorial for parents is located at www.mahalo.com. Type: “How to understand your kids’ text messages” in the search box.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 26, 2009

How to Understand Your Kids’ Text Messages
If you’ve read your child’s text messages, you might think he or she has learned a second language. Texting has replaced email for most young people today. And, like any form of communication, parents have a responsibility to make sure that their children use texting as safely as possible. As a parent or guardian, take time to learn some of the texting lingo. Also, be alert that some predators use texting to send sexually explicit messages to unsuspecting young people. A helpful tutorial for parents is located at www.mahalo.com. Type: “How to understand your kids’ text messages” in the search box.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 19, 2009

Keeping Kids Safe After School
You can help keep your children safe by knowing where they spend their time after school. Get to know the adults who show up at the various locations in the community where children gather and where they play together. Be wary of any adult who seems more interested in creating a relationship with a child than with other adults. Pay attention when an adult seems to single out a child for a relationship or for special attention. Warning signs include treats, gifts, vacations, or other special favors offered only to one specific child. For more information, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 5 and 12, 2009

Getting to and from School Safely
If your child walks to school, walk the route with him/her to identify landmarks and safe places to go if he/she is being followed or needs help. Create a map with your child showing acceptable routes to and from school using main roads and avoiding shortcuts and isolated areas. Make sure young children are properly supervised going to and from school, whether it is by you as a parent/guardian, an older sibling or another trusted adult. Remind older children to always take a friend when walking or riding their bikes to and from school. For a back-to-school child safety checklist, please visit: www.missingkids.com and click on “Back to School Safety.”
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 28, 2009

Know Your Kids’ School
Parents and guardians have the primary responsibility for protecting their children from all potential harm. When choosing a nursery, daycare center, or school, parents should inspect the building and grounds to make sure there are no areas where children play or work that are “off limits” to parents. Such facilities should have a policy that welcomes parents to visit the center or school without prior appointment. For more information about child safety programs in the Archdiocese, please call the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, (213) 637-7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 21, 2009

Help Reduce Abuse Statistics
Nationally, more than 2 million reports of abuse or neglect of minors are made each year. Only a small percentage of child abuse is ever reported. Learn how to spot suspected abuse or neglect, and how to report it to the proper authorities. For more information, please contact those in your parish who are in charge of programs to safeguard children. Or please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 14, 2009

IOW, Knowing Internet Lingo Can Help Parents Safeguard Kids
Online chat rooms, instant messaging systems, and even cell phones equipped to send text messages are environments rich in abbreviations, acronyms, and other shorthand that help increase the speed of communication. Parents need to become aware of some of the common lingo that is used in these environments. Some of these terms may be found to be vulgar, degrading, or otherwise offensive. However, parents and educators need to have a level of understanding of the dangers that face our children. For more information, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children office: 213 637 7227. .
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 8, 2009

CyberTipline Fights Internet Crimes Against Children
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other government agencies all work together to fight Internet crimes against children. They’ve established a “CyberTipline,” a reporting mechanism for cases of child sexual exploitation including child pornography, online enticement of children for sex acts, molestation of children outside the family, sex tourism of children, child victims of prostitution, and unsolicited obscene material sent to a child. Reports may be made—24 hours per day, seven days per week—online at www.cybertipline.com or by calling 800 843 5678.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 31, 2009

Teach Kids to Protect Themselves at Home
We consider our homes to be safe places for our children. But being home alone can pose risks for children. Here are a few tips to teach kids that will help keep them safe when you are not with them at home:
  • Never answer the door if alone.
  • Do not invite anyone in the house without the permission of a parent or babysitter.
  • Don’t tell anyone on the phone that your parents are not home. Instead tell them that your parents can’t come to the phone, and take a message.
For more tips, please visit www.kidsafe.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 24, 2009

The Prevalence of Abuse in Society
In surveys of adults, one out of five women and one out of ten men reported that they were sexually molested before they were 18 years old. This means that an estimated 40 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse are living in the United States today. An estimated 9.6% of all school children will be molested by an educator or an employee of a school between kindergarten and 12th grade. Between 13 and 34% of all females will be victims of sexual assault before the age of 18, and 7 to 16% of all males will also be victimized before they are 18. For more information about child safety programs in the Archdiocese, please call the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 17, 2009

VIRTUS training prevents abuse
Did you know that every person working with children and youth in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is mandated to attend VIRTUS training? VIRTUS is designed to prevent child abuse by making adults aware of how sexual abuse is perpetrated by adults as well as other children. Tens of thousands of adults have gone through the VIRTUS training program in the Archdiocese. To find out about VIRTUS training sessions near you, please call the parish office or the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 10, 2009

Join in to help protect our kids
Safeguard the Children Committees have been established in parishes throughout the Los Angeles Archdiocese. A primary goal of these committees is to ensure that all children and youth experience safe environments in all parish activities and events. These committees also inform all parish personnel, committees, ministries and volunteers of the available resources for educating their constituencies on all aspects of child and youth abuse and neglect. For more information, call the parish office or the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 3, 2009

Who Are the Abusers?
Estimates are that approximately 60% of abusers are men, 15 to 20% are women, and 20 to 40% are men and women acting together. So while men are indeed the majority of sexual abusers, it is dangerous to underestimate the risk that female sexual abusers also pose to children. Among educators, 57.2% of abusers are male, and 42.4% of abusers are female. For more information about child safety programs in the Archdiocese, please call Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 27, 2009

Take the Child Safety Quiz
Parents, guardians, and adults who care for children face constant challenges when trying to help keep children safer in today’s fast-paced world. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers easy-to-use safety resources to help address these challenges. NCMEC’s Web site offers a range of practical information for parents and guardians that will help keep children safe from harm. The site also features an interactive quiz on child safety designed for both adults and children. To take the quiz, visit the NCMEC Web site and click on “Child Safety”: www.missingkids.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 20, 2009

Possible Indicators of Child Abuse and Neglect
A key to reporting child abuse and neglect is being able to recognize common indicators. In a parent, the following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect: Shows little concern for the child; blames the child for the child’s problems in school or at home; asks teachers or other caretakers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves; sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome. To learn more about child abuse prevention, visit:
http://archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 13, 2009

Recognizing Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect
A key to reporting child abuse and neglect is being able to recognize common indicators. In children, the following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect: Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance. Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention. Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen. Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn. Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home. To learn more about child abuse prevention, visit: http://archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 6, 2009

Internet Filter Software Is No Substitute for Parental Monitoring
There is a lot of material on the Internet that is inappropriate for children. Parents can use filtering software to protect children from that material, but filters do not guarantee that children will not be exposed; a filter will never be a substitute for parents’ presence. Monitor your child’s online behavior. Keep your family computer in a highly visible, common area, like the family room or the kitchen. Ask your children to show you what sites they go to, and be open and willing to discuss the inappropriate material they might come across.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 29, 2009

Online teens: What You Need to Know
Fully 32 percent of online teens have been contacted by someone with no connection to them or any of their friends, and 7 percent of online teens say they have felt scared or uncomfortable as a result of contact by an online stranger. Although several factors are associated with high levels of stranger contact, the large majority of these interactions are benign. But to keep children safe from Internet predators, the L.A. City Attorney’s Office offers a variety of age-appropriate Internet Safety presentations. For more information, please contact the Child Abuse Policy Division at 213 978 8095.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 22, 2009

Internet Safety Lectures Available Now
Because children can be the target of Internet predators, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office offers Internet Safety Lectures for parents and school age children from 5th grade and up and community groups. These presentations are approximately one hour in length and deal with issues including Internet safety issues, social networking sites such as MySpace, Instant Messenger (AOL/AIM), Internet predators, Megan's law, Internet chat rooms and popular weblogs. For more information or to request an Internet Safety presentation, please contact the Child Abuse Policy Division at 213 978 8095.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 15, 2009

Keeping the Internet Safe for Your Child
Did you know that teen girls who post photos online and teens who create social networking profiles report higher rates of online contact by people unknown to them than boys or teens who do not post photos or maintain social networking profiles? Keeping the Internet safe for your child is an important part of abuse prevention. The L.A. City Attorney’s Child Abuse Policy Division staff is available to all public and private schools for presentation of Internet Safety programs. For more information or to request an Internet Safety presentation, please contact the Child Abuse Policy Division at 213 978 8095.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 8, 2009

Who Are The Perpetrators?
According to data provided by the L.A. City Attorney’s Office, parents constitute 84 percent of the child abuse perpetrators, while caregivers, relatives, foster parents, and babysitters constitute the rest. Sixty percent of perpetrators are female, whose median age is 31 years. Forty percent are male, whose median age is 34 years. The L.A. City Attorney’s Office maintains a webpage of useful information on child safety. To access the page, go to: http://www.lacity.org/atty and click on “Safeguarding Our Children and Schools.”
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 1, 2009

Working Together to Prevent Child abuse
A hallmark of the Catholic Church is the protection of life and the dignity of the human person. Through Scripture and Catholic teachings we are called to protect the life and dignity of all human persons no matter how young or old. Working to prevent child abuse is an important response of what we are called to do as Church. For information on how you can become more informed and involved in keeping our children safe, please call the parish office or visit: http://www.archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 26, 2009

Child Protection Is A Priority for the Church
The Catholic Church in the U.S. has made care for minors a key priority, with safe environment programs established in every diocese. Through these programs more than five million minors already have been educated on how to protect themselves from harm, and nearly two million adults have undergone background screening and training on appropriate relationships with youth in their care. To find out how you can help keep children safe, please call the parish office  or the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650

May 18, 2009

Learn How To Protect Children from Abuse
There are 25,857 Catholic parishes and schools in the United States. If every Catholic parish or school could stop just one child from being abused, we could make a tremendous difference. Abuse prevention training programs are available on a regular basis in English and Spanish throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. These programs only take a few hours to complete. To locate a training program near you, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650

May 11, 2009

Child Abuse is A National problem
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there were 905,000 reported child abuse cases in 2006 alone. Imagine if a disease claimed that many young lives. What would be our national response? Abuse, even if it is not fatal, robs a life and damages a child’s spirit. It changes who that person is on a fundamental level. For information on how you can become more informed and involved in keeping our children safe, please call your parish office or the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650

May 4, 2009

Working Together to Prevent Child abuse
A hallmark of the Catholic Church is the protection of life and the dignity of the human person. Through Scripture and Catholic teachings we are called to protect the life and dignity of all human persons no matter how young or old. Working to prevent child abuse is an important response of what we are called to do as Church. For information on how you can become more informed and involved in keeping our children safe, please call the parish office or visit: http://archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650

April 27, 2009

Child Protection Is A Priority for the Church
The Catholic Church in the U.S. has made care for minors a key priority, with safe environment programs established in every diocese. Through these programs more than five million minors already have been educated on how to protect themselves from harm, and nearly two million adults have undergone background screening and training on appropriate relationships with youth in their care. To find out how you can help keep children safe, please call the parish office or the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650

April 20, 2009

Learn How To Protect Children from Abuse
There are 25,857 Catholic parishes and schools in the United States. If every Catholic parish or school could stop just one child from being abused we could make a tremendous difference. Abuse prevention training programs are available on a regular basis in English and Spanish throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. These programs only take a few hours to complete. To locate a training program near you, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650

April 13, 2009

Child Abuse Is A National Problem
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services there were 905,000 reported child abuse victims in 2006 alone. Imagine if a disease claimed that many young lives. What would be our national response? Abuse, even if it is not fatal, robs a life and damages a child’s spirit. It changes who that person is on a fundamental level. April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month. For information on how you can become more informed and involved in keeping our children safe, please call the parish office or visit: http://www.archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650

April 6, 2009

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is most appropriate that Child Abuse Prevention Month is held during the Easter season. There is no better time than Easter to celebrate the protection of our most valuable gift from God—our children. For information on how you can become more informed and involved in keeping our children safe, please call the parish office or visit: http://www.archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 30, 2009

Possible Indicators of Child Abuse and Neglect
A key to reporting child abuse and neglect is being able to recognize common indicators. In a parent, the following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect: Shows little concern for the child. Blames the child for the child’s problems in school or at home. Asks teachers or other caretakers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves. Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome. To learn more about child abuse prevention, visit: http://archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 23, 2009

Recognizing Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect
A key to reporting child abuse and neglect is being able to recognize common indicators. In children, the following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect: Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance. Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention. Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen. Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn. Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home. To learn more about child abuse prevention, visit: http://www.archdiocese.la/protecting.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 16, 2009

How to Report Inappropriate or Illegal Content on the Internet
One of the main reasons that children do not report the inappropriate content they find online is fear of punishment from parents. If you let them know that it is not their fault if they come across an inappropriate site, they will be more willing to come to you when it happens. If your children ever show you a site that contains illegal behavior, such as pornographic images of children, contact your Internet service provider and the CyberTipline at www.cybertipline.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 9, 2009

Always Keep an Up-to-Date Photo of Your Child
Picture this: A good photo could save a child’s life. One of the most important tools for law enforcement in the case of a missing child is an up-to-date (take a new one every six months), good-quality photograph. The photograph should be a recent head-and-shoulders color photograph of the child in which the face is clearly seen. It should be of school-portrait quality, and the background should be plain or solid so it does not distract from the subject. When possible, the photograph should be in a digitized form and available on a compact disk (CD), as opposed to just a hard copy. This minimizes the time necessary to scan, resize, and make color corrections before disseminating it to law enforcement. The photograph should have space for accurate, narrative description useful to identify the child, such as name, nickname, height, weight, sex, age, eye color, identifying marks, glasses, and braces. For more information, please visit: www.missingkids.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 2, 2009

Internet Spammers Target Kids, Too
Does your child know what to do when he or she gets an e-mail from an unknown person? If you are allowing your children to communicate with others online, be aware that they will be exposed to spam. The easiest way to avoid spam is to make sure that your children do not give out their personal information or e-mail address to anyone they do not know. Adjust the security settings on their e-mail account to filter or block unwanted messages. Encourage your children to delete any messages they get from anyone they don’t know. Even when your children get e-mail or instant messages from people they know, make sure that they scan everything they are downloading for viruses first. You can do this by making sure that you have your antivirus software up to date. For more information, please visit: www.netsmartz.org/safety/safetytips.htm.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 23, 2009

Ensuring Your Child’s School Is Safe
Every teacher, coach, and volunteer who works with children in the Archdiocese’s parishes and schools must have a background check before he or she is permitted to work in any school- or parish-related job or activity that involves contact with children. But what about the children who attend non-Catholic private or public schools? Talk with school administrators and find out what steps they take to protect children from harm. Suggest that they review other abuse prevention programs to ensure that their policies and practices are up to date. And demand that all employees and volunteers who work in the school be properly screened, including background checks, before they are allowed to be near your children. For more information, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 16, 2009

IOW, Knowing Internet Lingo Can Help Parents Safeguard Kids
Online chat rooms, instant messaging systems, and even cell phones equipped to send text messages are environments rich in abbreviations, acronyms, and other shorthand that help increase the speed of communication. Parents need to become aware of some of the common lingo that is used in these environments. Some of these terms may be found to be vulgar, degrading, or otherwise offensive. However, parents and educators need to have a level of understanding of the dangers that face our children. For more information, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 9, 2009

CyberTipline Fights Internet Crimes Against Children

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other government agencies all work together to fight Internet crimes against children. They’ve established a “CyberTipline,” a reporting mechanism for cases of child sexual exploitation including child pornography, online enticement of children for sex acts, molestation of children outside the family, sex tourism of children, child victims of prostitution, and unsolicited obscene material sent to a child. Reports may be made—24 hours per day, seven days per week—online at www.cybertipline.com or by calling 800 843 5678.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 2, 2009

Get Involved in Parish Safety Programs
Parents and guardians play a key role in the success of parish programs for young people. Parents and guardians who are involved in parish programs and events will be in the best position to protect their own children as well as all the children in the parish community. Involvement and communication are important factors in helping to ensure safe environments for all of our children. Contact the parish office for more information on how you can become actively involved in the safe environment training programs in our parish.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 26, 2009

Internet Safety for Kids
The Internet has become the new schoolyard for child molesters seeking girls or boys to victimize. Internet “chat rooms” provide a teenager with an opportunity to engage in a “live” conversation with friends from school or church, or with other teenagers from around the world. A chat room is similar to an old-style telephone party line, except that the teens are typing. Law enforcement has found that child molesters use chat rooms to gain easy and safe access to teens. Because of the seemingly caring and seductive talent of child molesters, teenagers should be warned that when they are in a chat room, they should never provide anyone with private information, personal information, and especially their specific physical location. For particular help, please call the Archdiocesan Safeguard the Children office: 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 19, 2009

Test Your Knowledge of Abuse Prevention: True or False?
True or false? It is common for both child and adult victims of sexual assault to wait some time before telling someone about the abuse. True. It is common for victims of sexual assault to wait some time before telling someone. When the person was assaulted as a child, he or she may wait years or decades. The reasons for this are numerous: victims may want to deny the fact that someone they trusted could do this to them; they may want to just put it behind them; they may believe the myth that they caused the assault by their behavior; or they may fear how other people will react to the truth. For more information on learning how you can help ensure the safety of children, please visit: www.archdiocese.la/protecting
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 12, 2009

Take the Child Safety Quiz
Parents, guardians, and adults who care for children face constant challenges when trying to help keep children safer in today’s fast-paced world. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers easy-to-use safety resources to help address these challenges. NCMEC’s Web site offers a range of practical information for parents and guardians that will help keep children safe from harm. The site also features an interactive quiz on child safety designed for both adults and children. To take the quiz, visit the NCMEC Web site and click on “Child Safety”: www.missingkids.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 5, 2009

Safety tips for children traveling alone
Take time to discuss appropriate behavior with your child before he or she boards an airplane alone. If another passenger acts in an inappropriate way, be sure that your child knows to inform a flight attendant or other airline representative. Inappropriate behavior on the part of other passengers includes rude, offensive, or threatening comments; inappropriate touching; inappropriate conversations; taking food or other items away from the child; or other behavior that makes the child uncomfortable or fearful. In addition, inappropriate behavior would include any attempt to elicit personal information about the child. Make sure that you child understands that no passenger they meet needs to know things such as their full name, their home address, their telephone number, or where they are going.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 29, 2008

No Bulletin Update will be posted on December 29th due to the Christmas and New Year Holiday Season.
The next Bulletin Update (after the one below for December 22, 2008) will be posted on January 5, 2009.

December 22, 2008

What to know before your child boards the airplane
Every airline has slightly different policies on how they accommodate unaccompanied children. Take special note of their policies for escorting children at connection airports and accommodations in the event that the flight is delayed or diverted. Note that some airlines policies do not include providing overnight accommodations and the airline may turn over your child to local authorities if the flight is delayed overnight. General information and insights concerning airline policies are available at www.AirSafe.com. Click on “Airline Rules for Unaccompanied Children.”
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 15, 2008

Holiday plants can be dangerous to small children
Family gatherings, special traditions, delicious treats — it just may be the most wonderful time of the year, especially for kids. Unfortunately, for emergency room doctors it’s also one of the busiest. Take time out to learn how to protect your little ones from some common holiday dangers, and you and your family can enjoy a season that’s happy and healthy. Mistletoe, holly, poinsettias, Jerusalem cherry plants, and other plants are commonly used as decorations during the holidays. Like many plants, these are considered potentially poisonous and should be kept out of the reach of children. Symptoms of plant poisoning can include rashes, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect that your child has eaten any part of a plant, immediately call your doctor or the National Capitol Poison Center: 800 222 1222.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 8, 2008

Holiday season child safety tips
The holidays can present potentially dangerous situations for children. Some simple prevention measurers can help keep your children safe during the season.
  1. If possible, leave small children at home with a trusted babysitter.
  2. Teach your child to go to a store clerk and ask for help in case your child is separated from you.
  3. Teach children to stay close to you at all times while shopping.
  4. Never allow children to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom.
  5. Teach children their full name, address and telephone number to give to police officers or mall security.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 1, 2008

How Big of a Problem Is Child Sexual Exploitation?
The sexual victimization of children is overwhelming in magnitude yet largely unrecognized and underreported. Statistics show that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys are sexually exploited before they reach adulthood, yet less than 35 percent of those child sexual assaults are reported to authorities. Creating safe environments for our children is as important as ever. Parents and all who work with children need to become better informed about the warning signs of sexual abuse, so that they can prevent it before it occurs. For more information on child safety policies and programs in our parish, please call the parish office
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 24, 2008

Child safety resources for the Spanish-speaking
Nearly 800,000 children are reported missing to law enforcement each year. One in five is Hispanic. But, by working together we can help reduce the incidents of missing and exploited children in Hispanic communities across the United States. The commitment to help our children transcends ethnicity, reflects American spirit, and is nobly exemplified in the Hispanic community. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children offers easy-to-use safety resources in English and Spanish to help parents and guardians protect children. For more information, visit the NCMEC website: www.missingkids.com
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 17, 2008

Five steps to safer environments
The Archdiocese mandates that all people who work with children and youth in our parishes and schools must undergo child abuse prevention training through the VIRTUS program. The training details five steps to prevent child sexual abuse:
  1. Know the warning signs of an inappropriate relationship with a child.
  2. Control access to children by carefully selecting the adults who work with children and youth.
  3. Monitor all programs for the safety of children and youth.
  4. Be aware of, and sensitive to, what is going on in the lives of children.
  5. Communicate concerns to the appropriate person in authority.
For particular help you may call Suzanne Healy, Director of Assistance Ministry, at 213  637  7650.

November 10, 2008

The prevalence of abuse in society
In surveys of adults, one out of five women and one out of 10 men reported that they were sexually molested before they were 18 years old. This means that an estimated 40 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse are living in the United States today. An estimated 9.6 percent of all school children will be molested by an educator or an employee of a school between kindergarten and 12th grade. Between 13 and 34 percent of all females will be victims of sexual assault before the age of 18 and 7 to 16 percent of all males will also be victimized before they are 18.
For particular help you may call Suzanne Healy, Director of Assistance Ministry, at 213  637  7650.

November 3, 2008

Join in to help protect our kids
Safeguard the Children Committees have been established in parishes throughout the Los Angeles Archdiocese. A primary goal of these committees is to ensure that all children and youth experience safe environments in all parish activities and events. These committees also inform all parish personnel, committees, ministries and volunteers of the available resources for educating their constituencies on all aspects of child and youth abuse and neglect. For more information, call the parish office or the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 27, 2008

Test your knowledge of abuse prevention
True or false: It is common for both child and adult victims of sexual assault to wait some time before telling someone about the abuse. True. It is common for victims of sexual assault to wait some time before telling someone. When the person was assaulted as a child, he or she may wait years or decades. The reasons for this are numerous: victims may want to deny the fact that someone they trusted could do this to them; they may want to just put it behind them; they may believe the myth that they caused the assault by their behavior; or they may fear how other people will react to the truth. For more information on learning how you can help ensure the safety of children, please visit: www.archdiocese.la.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 20, 2008

Telling the story of success
Five years since U.S. bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People at their June 2002 meeting in Dallas, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and other dioceses have made significant strides to instill practices that will ensure the safety of children in the church. Two websites provide a useful database of articles that look at a variety of related issues, from strategies in place to prevent and identify child sexual abuse to the growth of transparency in the church. To access these websites, please visit: www.the-tidings.com and click on the link to articles on abuse prevention at the top of the page; or visit the U.S. bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection website: www.usccb.org/ocyp/5yearsfromdallas.shtml.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 13, 2008

Test your knowledge: True or False?
Child sexual abusers are only attracted to children and are not capable of appropriate sexual relationships? False. While there is a small subset of child sexual abusers who are exclusively attracted to children, the majority of the individuals who sexually abuse children are (or have previously been) attracted to adults. Child predators are difficult to identify precisely because they look just like everyone else. In some cases, they are our most trusted friends and even our family members. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles offers a wealth of information on child safety and child safety training programs for adults and young people. For more information, please visit: www.archdiocese.la.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 6, 2008

Website helps locate sex offenders near you
The Megan’s Law website for California provides access to information on more than 63,000 persons required to register in California as sex offenders. Specific home addresses are displayed on more than 33,500 offenders in the California communities; as to these persons, the site displays the last registered address reported by the offender. An additional 30,500 offenders are included on the site with listing by ZIP Code, city, and county. Information on approximately 22,000 other offenders is not included on this site, but is known to law enforcement personnel. Not all sex offenders have been caught and convicted. Most sex offenses are committed by family, friends or acquaintances of the victim. http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 29, 2008

How Old Does a Child Need to Be in Order to Stay Alone?
Don’t assume that when your child understands what you’re saying, he’s ready to walk out the door by himself. Besides the fact that many states have laws against leaving children of certain ages alone (for example, younger than 12), experts say children shouldn’t be left by themselves until they’re capable of fighting off an abductor or handling a crisis situation. Experts also say children do not have the mental maturity to cross busy streets by themselves until they’re about 10 or 12 years old (did you know that pedestrian injuries rank third in child fatalities, behind traffic accidents and drowning?). Finally, parents who are certain their young children would never walk away with a stranger will be shocked to learn that studies show they probably will. Stay alert and vigilant, even if you believe your child is aware of possible dangers from others.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 22, 2008

Learn to “stop” inappropriate activity before it happens
Child safety tip: Teach your child to respect the word "stop!" Teach your preschooler that "stop" means "stop," and that your child has the right to stop people from touching his or her body. Obviously, exceptions will have to be made for doctors and parents, but even parents must listen when a child doesn’t want to be tickled or hugged anymore. Reinforcing this excellent lesson gives your child the power to recognize--and to stop--“bad touching” by others if it should happen.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 15, 2008

Recognizing signs of child sexual abuse
Changes in behavior, extreme mood swings, withdrawal, fearlessness, excessive crying, bed-wetting, nightmares, fear of going to bed, sleep disorders and a fear of certain places, people or activities can be signs that a child has been traumatized by sexual abuse. Through its Safeguard the Children program, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles provides abuse prevention training for parents, teachers and others who work with children. This training helps adults to identify and prevent behaviors that may lead to abuse. It also provides parents and others with techniques for talking to children who may be at risk of being abused by others. Contact your parish Safeguard the Children Committee for more information about an abuse prevention training program in your area.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 8, 2008

Teach kids to protect themselves away from home
The world is generally a safe place, but dangers still exist, especially for children. You can help your kids reduce the dangers they face each day by providing them with common sense tips like these that will help keep them safe: Don't take short cuts. Always use well-traveled streets. Never go to playgrounds or movies alone. Go to the nearest cashier if lost or separated from a parent in a store or mall. If an adult approaches to ask for directions, step back, tell them you don't know and walk away. Adults should ask other adults for directions. For more tips, please visit: www.kidsave.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 2, 2008

Teach kids to protect themselves at home
We consider our homes to be safe places for our children. But being home alone can pose risks for children. Here are a few tips to teach kids that will help keep them safe when you are not with them at home: Never answer the door if alone. Do not invite anyone in the house without the permission of a parent or babysitter. Don’t tell anyone on the phone that your parents are not home. Instead tell them that your parents can’t come to the phone and take a message. For more tips, please visit: www.kidsave.com
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 25, 2008

Help reduce abuse statistics
Nationally, more than 2 million reports of abuse or neglect of minors are made each year. Between 25%-50% of all children will experience some form of abuse during childhood. One of every three girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18; and one out of every five to seven boys will be sexually abused by 18. Only a small percentage of child abuse is ever reported. Learn how to spot suspected abuse or neglect, and how to report it to the proper authorities. For more information, please contact your parish Safeguard the Children Committee.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 18, 2008

Background checks and screening
“In the Los Angeles Archdiocese, all clergy, paid parish/school personnel and volunteers who work regularly in a supervisory role with children or youth must be fingerprinted. For information call: 213 637 7411, or go to: www.archdiocese.la/about/hr.” From the pamphlet, “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy & Holy,” published by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The pamphlet is available in the parish and online at: www.archdiocese.la/protecting/resources.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 11, 2008

Sexual abuse of minors is a pervasive social problem
“Child abuse is a frightening social reality. Numerous studies, while not in full agreement, estimate that some 40% of girls and 30% of boys suffer some form of molestation by an adult during their childhood and adolescence, with the majority of child sexual abuse occurring within the setting of an extended family. We as the ‘People of God’ are called to work together to stop all forms of sexual abuse, wherever they occur.” From the pamphlet, “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy & Holy,” published by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The pamphlet is available in the parish and online at www.archdiocese.la/protecting/resources
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 4, 2008

Helping the abused find healing.
“The Office of Victims Assistance Ministry of the Archdiocese was created in April 2002 to deal with allegations of past or current sexual abuse by clergy, religious or any lay person working or volunteering for the Archdiocese. The Office is charged with creating a safe and compassionate environment for victims to come forward while ensuring that civil authorities are notified and victims are provided with counseling and other assistance in the healing process. The Victims Assistance Ministry Office phone number is 800 355 2545.” From the pamphlet, “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy & Holy,” published by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The pamphlet is available in the parish and online at: www.archdiocese.la/protecting/resources.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 28, 2008

Children & Youth Sexual Abuse Prevention Programs
“Child sexual abuse prevention includes empowering children by teaching them body safety rules and steps they can take to ensure their own safety. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles currently offers the following age-appropriate prevention programs for children: VIRTUS Teaching Touching Safety; Good-Touch/Bad-Touch; Archdiocese of Los Angeles Prevention Program. Parishes/schools can select from the programs listed above. All these programs encourage parent involvement in reinforcing what their children learn…so that parents may fulfill their role as the ‘primary educators’ of their children.’” From the pamphlet, “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy & Holy,” published by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The pamphlet is available in the parish and online at: www.archdiocese.la/protecting/resources.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 21, 2008

Archdiocesan Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policies
“The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has implemented rigorous policies and procedures to provide safe environments in our parishes and parish schools for all children and young people. These include: ‘Zero Tolerance’; Guidelines for Adults Working or Volunteering with Minors; Boundary Guidelines for Junior High and High School Youth Working or Volunteering with Children or Youth; Megan’s Law Compliance Procedures. These and other policies are available online at: www.archdiocese.la/protecting.” From the pamphlet, “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy & Holy,” published by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The pamphlet is available in the parish and online at: www.archdiocese.la/protecting/resources.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 14 , 2008

Reporting Child Abuse
“Priests, deacons, school faculty and administrators and other staff members in our parishes and schools have been designated as mandated reporters under California law. When one of these persons receives information leading to a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that a child is being abused or neglected, he or she must make a report to the appropriate child protection or law enforcement agency.” From the pamphlet, “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy & Holy,” published by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The pamphlet is available in the parish and online at: www.archdiocese.la/protecting/resources.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 7 , 2008

Guidelines for youths working with youths
The Archdiocesan Office of Religious Education and the Department of Catholic Schools, working in collaboration with the Office of Safeguard the Children, have developed Archdiocesan Boundary Guidelines for junior high and high school youth working or volunteering with children or youth. These Guidelines are promulgated to ensure the safety of the children in all Archdiocesan programs and Christian Service projects. All youth volunteers, including students who are already 18, must receive training in these Boundary Guidelines before undertaking their Christian Service ministry project. To read more about these Guidelines, please visit: http://the-tidings.com/2007/abuse/abuse26.pdf.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 30 , 2008

Victims Assistance Ministry
The Office of Victims Assistance Ministry of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles deals with allegations of past or current sexual abuse by clergy, religious and any lay person working or volunteering for the archdiocese. The office is charged with creating a safe and compassionate environment for victims to come forward, while ensuring that civil authorities are notified and victims are provided counseling and other assistance in the healing process. To contact Victims Assistance Ministry, call 213 637 7650.

June 23 , 2008

Code of Conduct
In addition to other screening requirements, those working or volunteering with youth in our Archdiocese are required to sign a code of conduct: “Guidelines for Adults Interacting with Minors at Parish and Parish School Events.” Another code of conduct, “Boundary Guidelines for Junior High and High School Youth Working or Volunteering with Children and Youth,” has been developed for junior high and high school youth working or volunteering with children or youth in schools or parishes. For more information on these requirements, please contact Joan Vienna at jvienna@la-archdiocese.org or call 213 637 7227.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 16 , 2008

Safeguard the Children Committee
Safeguard the Children parish committees were mandated by Cardinal Roger Mahony in 2002. The parish committees are foundational in ensuring the safe environment of parishes and schools throughout the Archdiocese. These permanent committees coordinate initiatives such as education opportunities, site evaluations and local presentations by speakers including police, nurses and therapists. The committees are also responsible for implementing archdiocesan safe environment policies and procedures. For more information, please contact the parish office.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 9 , 2008

Positions of trust mandated to report child abuse.
Most people who hold positions of trust in Catholic institutions are mandated by California state law to report child abuse. Teachers, teacher's aides and counselors in our schools, therapists and social workers in our counseling agencies, nurses and doctors in hospitals, and clergy in parishes or other ministries all have the obligation to report the reasonable suspicion of child abuse to the local police or to child protective services. When any of these people know of or have reasonable suspicion of abuse, they report it to the appropriate police or protective agency. For more information, please contact your parish Safeguard the Children committee.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 2 , 2008

Discipline or abuse?
Discipline is designed to help children control and change their behavior. Its purpose is to encourage moral, physical and intellectual development and a sense of responsibility in children.  Abuse is mistreatment that results in injury or harm to a child. For a useful Q and A on child abuse and neglect, and its prevention and reporting, please visit the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services website at http://lacdcfs.org/faq.html#2
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 27, 2008

Playing it safe when the heat is on
Summer is here, and many kids will be playing sports outdoors. Make sure their summer camp supervisors and coaches know how to recognize and properly treat the signs of heat-related problems in children, including confusion; dilated pupils; dizziness; fainting; headache; heavy perspiration; nausea; pale and moist or hot, dry skin; weak pulse; and weakness. Every summer sports program for children should have rules for playing it safe when the heat is on.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 19, 2008

Kids, sports and injuries
Sports are a great way for your child to stay fit and healthy, to learn about teamwork, make friends, and develop a sense of personal satisfaction. But kids' injuries from playing sports are on the rise. The National Institutes of Health offers a wealth of information and tips on childhood sports injuries and their prevention. To access the website, please go to www.niams.nih.gov/hi/topics/childsports/child_sports.htm
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 12, 2008

Don’t overestimate children’s “street smarts”
Pedestrian injury remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5 to 14. Children are particularly vulnerable to pedestrian death because they are exposed to traffic threats that exceed their cognitive, developmental, behavioral, physical, and sensory abilities.  This is exacerbated by the fact that parents often overestimate their children’s pedestrian skills.  Children have difficulty judging speed, spatial relations, and distance.  Auditory and visual acuity, depth perception, and proper scanning ability develop gradually and do not fully mature until at least age 10. For child pedestrian safety tips, click on “Pedestrian Safety” at www.usa.safekids.org
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 5, 2008

Toy safety tips
With millions of toys being recalled in recent months for having lead paint or dangerous magnets, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of toys are safe.  But how can you determine whether a toy is age-appropriate for your child, or which toys have been recalled by the manufacturer?  For information on toy safety, including a buying guide, toy FAQ and an up-to-date toy recall listing, click on “Toy Safety” at www.usa.safekids.org.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 28, 2008

An Appropriate Way to Report Inappropriate Behavior
How should you communicate your concerns to someone who may be behaving inappropriately with children? The "I" message is a simple way to reframe what you want to say so that the listener hears you speak of your feelings and concerns rather than hearing a complaint against him- or herself. The "I" message, simply diagrammed, says, "I feel [feeling] when [situation] because [reason]." For example, you can say, "I feel anxious when you drive a child home alone after religious education classes, because that could put you or the child in a potentially risky situation." It is a much more constructive approach than saying, "You shouldn’t be driving children home alone because it is against the rules and puts them in danger."
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 21, 2008

Know Your Kids’ School
Parents and guardians have the primary responsibility for protecting their children from all potential harm. When choosing a nursery, daycare center or school, parents should inspect the building and grounds to make sure there are no areas where children play or work that are “off limits” to parents. Such facilities should have a policy that welcomes parents to visit the center or school without prior appointment.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 14, 2008

Help reduce abuse statistics
Nationally, more than 2 million reports of abuse or neglect of minors are made each year. Between 25%-50% of all children will experience some form of abuse during childhood. One of every three girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18; and one out of every five to seven boys will be sexually abused by 18. Only a small percentage of child abuse is ever reported. Learn how to spot suspected abuse or neglect, and how to report it to the proper authorities. For more information, please contact your parish Safeguard the Children Committee.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 7, 2008

Teach kids to protect themselves at home
We consider our homes to be safe places for our children. But being home alone can pose risks for children. Here are a few tips to teach kids that will help keep them safe when you are not with them at home: Never answer the door if alone. Do not invite anyone in the house without the permission of a parent or babysitter. Don’t tell anyone on the phone that your parents are not home. Instead tell them that your parents can’t come to the phone and take a message. For more tips, please visit: www.kidsave.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 31, 2008
Recognizing signs of child sexual abuse
Changes in behavior, extreme mood swings, withdrawal, fearlessness, excessive crying, bed-wetting, nightmares, fear of going to bed, sleep disorders and a fear of certain places, people or activities can be signs that a child has been traumatized by sexual abuse. Through its Safeguard the Children program, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles provides abuse prevention training for parents, teachers and others who work with children. This training helps adults to identify and prevent behaviors that may lead to abuse. It also provides parents and others with techniques for talking to children who may be at risk of being abused by others. Contact your parish Safeguard the Children Committee for more information about an abuse prevention training program in your area.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 24, 2008

Learn to “stop” inappropriate activity before it happens
Child safety tip: Teach your child to respect the word “stop!” Teach your preschooler that “stop” means “stop,” and that your child has the right to stop people from touching his or her body. Obviously, exceptions will have to be made for doctors and parents, but even parents must listen when a child doesn’t want to be tickled or hugged anymore. Reinforcing this excellent lesson gives your child the power to recognize -- and to stop -- “bad touching” by others if it should happen.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 17, 2008

How Old Does a Child Need to Be in Order to Stay Alone?
Don’t assume that when your child understands what you’re saying, he’s ready to walk out the door by himself. Besides the fact that many states have laws against leaving children of certain ages alone (for example, younger than 12), experts say children shouldn’t be left by themselves until they’re capable of fighting off an abductor or handling a crisis situation. Experts also say children do not have the mental maturity to cross busy streets by themselves until they’re about 10 or 12 years old (did you know that pedestrian injuries rank third in child fatalities, behind traffic accidents and drowning?). Finally, parents who are certain their young children would never walk away with a stranger will be shocked to learn that studies show they probably will. Stay alert and vigilant, even if you believe your child is aware of possible dangers from others.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 10, 2008

Test your knowledge: True or False?
Child sexual abusers are only attracted to children and are not capable of appropriate sexual relationships? False. While there is a small subset of child sexual abusers who are exclusively attracted to children, the majority of the individuals who sexually abuse children are (or have previously been) attracted to adults. Child predators are difficult to identify precisely because they look just like everyone else. In some cases, they are our most trusted friends and even our family members. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles offers a wealth of information on child safety and child safety training programs for adults and young people. For more information, please visit: http://archdiocese.la.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 3, 2008

Test your knowledge of abuse prevention
True or false: It is common for both child and adult victims of sexual assault to wait some time before telling someone about the abuse. True. It is common for victims of sexual assault to wait some time before telling someone. When the person was assaulted as a child, he or she may wait years or decades. The reasons for this are numerous: victims may want to deny the fact that someone they trusted could do this to them; they may want to just put it behind them; they may believe the myth that they caused the assault by their behavior; or they may fear how other people will react to the truth. For more information on learning how you can help ensure the safety of children, please visit: http://archdiocese.la.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 25, 2008

Five Steps to Safer Environments
The Archdiocese mandates that all people who work with children and youth in our parishes and schools must undergo child abuse prevention training through the VIRTUS program. The training details five steps to prevent child sexual abuse:
1. Know the warning signs of an inappropriate relationship with a child. 2. Control access to children by carefully selecting the adults who work with children and youth. 3. Monitor all programs for the safety of children and youth. 4. Be aware of and sensitive to what is going on in the lives of children. 5. Communicate concerns to the appropriate person in authority.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 19, 2008

Prevalence of Abuse in Society
In surveys of adults, one out of five women and one out of 10 men reported that they were sexually molested before they were 18 years old. This means that an estimated 40 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse are living in the United States today.  An estimated 9.6 percent of all school children will be molested by an educator or an employee of a school between kindergarten and 12th grade. Between 13 and 34 percent of all females will be victims of sexual assault before the age of 18 and 7 to 16 percent of all males will also be victimized before they are 18. To learn more about helping to create safe environments for all of our children, please contact the Office of Safeguard the Children at 213 637 7227.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 11, 2008

Who Are the Abusers
Estimates are that approximately 60 percent of abusers are men, 15 to 20 percent are women, and 20 to 40 percent are men and women acting together. So, while men are indeed the majority of sexual abusers, it is dangerous to underestimate the risk that female sexual abusers also pose to children. Among educators, 57.2 percent of abusers are male and 42.4 percent of abusers are female. To learn more about creating safe environments in the school and home, please contact please contact the Office of Safeguard the Children at 213 637 7227.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 4, 2008

Take the child safety quiz
Parents, guardians, and adults who care for children face constant challenges when trying to help keep children safer in today's fast-paced world. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers easy-to-use safety resources to help address these challenges. NCMEC’s website offers a range of practical information for parents and guardians that will help keep children safe from harm. The site also features an interactive quiz on child safety designed for both adults and children. To take the quiz, visit the NCMEC website and click on “Child Safety”: www.missingkids.com.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 28, 2008

Meet the members of the National Review Board
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops established the National Review Board during their meeting in June of 2002. The purpose of the National Review Board is to collaborate with the USCCB in preventing sexual abuse of minors in the United States by persons in the service of the Church. Functions of the NRB include advising the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People on matters of child and youth protection specifically on policies and practices. The Board also reviews the work of the Office of Child and Youth Protection and makes specific recommendations to its director. Meet the members of the Review Board by visiting: www.usccb.org/ocyp/nrb.shtml
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 22, 2008

Abuse report finds drop in reported victims
The number of people who said they are victims of clergy child sex abuse has dropped 34 percent since 2004, according to a national survey of dioceses and religious orders. The survey was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in conjunction with the 2006 Audit on U.S. Church Compliance with Child Protection Policies. The annual report on the survey and audit showed the same drop since 2004 in the number of credible allegations made and a 40 percent drop in the number of reported offenders. The report collected data on credible allegations and costs related to child sex abuse in 2006 and compared them to the figures gathered in 2004 and 2005. Read the report online by visiting www.usccb.org/ocyp. Click on “2006 Annual Report on the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 14, 2008

Seventy percent of accused abusers are deceased
Clergy sex abuse data collected by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) on compliance with the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was released by the U.S. bishops April 11. The CARA survey found that more than 70 percent of the incidents against minors that were reported in 2006 occurred between 1960 and 1984. The report also showed the following: 1. Sixty percent of those accused in 2006 had been named previously in other abuse cases. About 10 percent of the allegations were unsubstantiated. 2. Seventy percent of offenders identified in 2006 were deceased, had already been removed from ministry, or had already left the priesthood or religious order when the allegation was reported. 3. Money spent on child protection efforts by the Catholic Church increased 35 percent from the previous year. Read the report online at: www.usccb.org/ocyp.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 7, 2008

Spotting signs of unresolved childhood trauma
For the past three years, the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has offered a Trauma Recovery Program for any adult Catholics who are survivors of childhood abuse and neglect. Depending on the definition used, 10-50 percent of children experience some form of trauma. Untreated childhood trauma affects an adult’s ability to be a healthy and productive member of society. The effects of trauma include injury to the mind and spirit as well as the physical body. Survivors of trauma commonly and consistently display recognizable predictable patterns of unhealthy behavior that can be changed and healed. You can read an article about signs of trauma -- and what can be done to treat it – at The Tidings newspaper website: http://www.the-tidings.com/2007/abuse/abuse41.pdf
To contact the Office of Victims Assistance Ministry, please call Mrs. Suzanne Healy, Director, at 213 637 7650. The hotline number to report sexual abuse is 800 355 2545.

December 31, 2007

Office of Assistance Ministry assists victims
The Office of Victims Assistance Ministry of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was created in April 2002 to deal with allegations of past or current sexual abuse by clergy, religious and any lay person working or volunteering for the archdiocese. The office was charged with creating a safe and compassionate environment for victims to come forward, while ensuring that civil authorities are notified and victims are provided counseling and other assistance in the healing process.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 24, 2007

Blessed Christmas!

December 17, 2007

Child protection efforts extend to coaches
The Catholic Youth Organization/Department of Catholic Schools coaches’ training program implemented in 2005 was created to insure the safety and well being of elementary school children, and coaches, in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Its two-hour training session covering child protection laws and procedures as well as character and safety training is mandatory for archdiocesan paid and volunteer coaches. All of the 4,500 coaches affiliated with 216 Catholic elementary schools are expected to attend the training. In order to attend training, participants must submit verification of Livescan fingerprinting.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 10, 2007

Abuse prevention articles in The Tidings
Since November 2005, our archdiocesan weekly newspaper, The Tidings, has regularly published articles related to child safety and abuse prevention efforts, information and tips. All of these articles are as relevant today as they were upon publication in the newspaper. The Tidings has archived these articles on its website: http://www.the-tidings.com/2007/abuse/abuse1.html.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 3, 2007

Child safety resources for the Spanish-speaking
Nearly 800,000 children are reported missing to law enforcement each year. One in five is Hispanic. But, by working together we can help reduce the incidents of missing and exploited children in Hispanic communities across the United States. The commitment to help our children transcends ethnicity, reflects American spirit, and is nobly exemplified in the Hispanic community. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children offers easy-to-use safety resources in English and Spanish to help parents and guardians protect children. For more information, visit the NCMEC website: www.missingkids.com.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 26, 2007

Take the child safety quiz
Parents, guardians, and adults who care for children face constant challenges when trying to help keep children safer in today's fast-paced world. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers easy-to-use safety resources to help address these challenges. NCMEC’s website offers a range of practical information for parents and guardians that will help keep children safe from harm. The site also features an interactive quiz on child safety designed for both adults and children. To take the quiz, visit the NCMEC website and click on “Child Safety”: www.missingkids.com.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 19, 2007

Who Are the Abusers?
Estimates are that approximately 60 percent of abusers are men, 15 to 20 percent are women, and 20 to 40 percent are men and women acting together. So, while men are indeed the majority of sexual abusers, it is dangerous to underestimate the risk that female sexual abusers also pose to children. Among educators, 57.2 percent of abusers are male and 42.4 percent of abusers are female.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 12, 2007

The prevalence of abuse in society
In surveys of adults, one out of five women and one out of ten men reported that they were sexually molested before they were 18 years old. This means that an estimated 40 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse are living in the United States today. An estimated 9.6 percent of all school children will be molested by an educator or an employee of a school between kindergarten and 12th grade. Between 13 and 34 percent of all females will be victims of sexual assault before the age of 18, and 7 to 16 percent of all males will also be victimized before they are 18.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 5, , 2007

Five steps to safer environments
The Archdiocese mandates that all people who work with children and youth in our parishes and schools must undergo child abuse prevention training through the VIRTUS program. The training details five steps to prevent child sexual abuse:
  1. Know the warning signs of an inappropriate relationship with a child.
  2. Control access to children by carefully selecting the adults who work with children and youth.
  3. Monitor all programs for the safety of children and youth.
  4. Be aware of and sensitive to what is going on in the lives of children.
  5. Communicate concerns to the appropriate person in authority.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 29, 2007

VIRTUS training prevents abuse
Did you know that every person working with children and youth in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is mandated to attend VIRTUS training? VIRTUS is designed to prevent child abuse by making adults aware of how sexual abuse is perpetrated by adults as well as by other children. In the last year alone, nearly 22,000 parents, priests, teachers, staff and volunteers in the Archdiocese have undergone training through the VIRTUS program. For more information, please contact your parish office or visit www.virtus.org.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 22, 2007

Join in to help protect our kids
Safeguard the Children Committees have been established in parishes throughout the Los Angeles Archdiocese. A primary goal of these committees is to ensure that all children and youth experience safe environments in all parish activities and events. These committees also inform all parish personnel, committees, ministries and volunteers of the available resources for educating their constituencies on all aspects of child and youth abuse and neglect. For more information, call the parish office or the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 15, 2007

Test your knowledge of abuse prevention
True or false: It is common for both child and adult victims of sexual assault to wait some time before telling someone about the abuse. True. It is common for victims of sexual assault to wait some time before telling someone. When the person was assaulted as a child, he or she may wait years or decades. The reasons for this are numerous: victims may want to deny the fact that someone they trusted could do this to them; they may want to just put it behind them; they may believe the myth that they caused the assault by their behavior; or they may fear how other people will react to the truth. For more information on learning how you can help ensure the safety of children, please visit: www.archdiocese.la
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 8, 2007

Telling the story of success
Five years since U.S. bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People at their June 2002 meeting in Dallas, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and other dioceses have made significant strides to instill practices that will ensure the safety of children in the church. Two websites provide a useful database of articles that look at a variety of related issues, from strategies in place to prevent and identify child sexual abuse to the growth of transparency in the church. To access these websites, please visit www.the-tidings.com and click on the link to articles on abuse prevention at the top of the page; or visit the U.S. bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection website: www.usccb.org/ocyp/5yearsfromdallas.shtml.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 1, 2007

Test your knowledge: True or False?
Child sexual abusers are only attracted to children and are not capable of appropriate sexual relationships? False. While there is a small subset of child sexual abusers who are exclusively attracted to children, the majority of the individuals who sexually abuse children are (or have previously been) attracted to adults. Child predators are difficult to identify precisely because they look just like everyone else. In some cases, they are our most trusted friends and even our family members. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles offers a wealth of information on child safety and child safety training programs for adults and young people. For more information, please visit: www.archdiocese.la.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 24, 2007

Website helps locate sex offenders near you
The Megan’s Law website for California provides access to information on more than 63,000 persons required to register in California as sex offenders. Specific home addresses are displayed on more than 33,500 offenders in the California communities; as to these persons, the site displays the last registered address reported by the offender. An additional 30,500 offenders are included on the site with listing by ZIP Code, city, and county. Information on approximately 22,000 other offenders is not included on this site, but is known to law enforcement personnel. Not all sex offenders have been caught and convicted. Most sex offenses are committed by family, friends or acquaintances of the victim. http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov. For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 17, 2007

How Old Does a Child Need to Be in Order to Stay Alone?

Don’t assume that when your child understands what you’re saying, he’s ready to walk out the door by himself. Besides the fact that many states have laws against leaving children of certain ages alone (for example, younger than 12), experts say children shouldn’t be left by themselves until they’re capable of fighting off an abductor or handling a crisis situation. Experts also say children do not have the mental maturity to cross busy streets by themselves until they’re about 10 or 12 years old (did you know that pedestrian injuries rank third in child fatalities, behind traffic accidents and drowning?). Finally, parents who are certain their young children would never walk away with a stranger will be shocked to learn that studies show they probably will. Stay alert and vigilant, even if you believe your child is aware of possible dangers from others.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650..

September 10, 2007

Learn to “stop” inappropriate activity before it happens
Child safety tip: Teach your child to respect the word “stop!” Teach your preschooler that “stop” means “stop,” and that your child has the right to stop people from touching his or her body. Obviously, exceptions will have to be made for doctors and parents, but even parents must listen when a child doesn’t want to be tickled or hugged anymore. Reinforcing this excellent lesson gives your child the power to recognize -- and to stop -- “bad touching” by others if it should happen.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministryat 213 637 7650.

September 4, 2007

Recognizing signs of child sexual abuse
Changes in behavior, extreme mood swings, withdrawal, fearlessness, excessive crying, bed-wetting, nightmares, fear of going to bed, sleep disorders and a fear of certain places, people or activities can be signs that a child has been traumatized by sexual abuse. Through its Safeguard the Children program, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles provides abuse prevention training for parents, teachers and others who work with children. This training helps adults to identify and prevent behaviors that may lead to abuse. It also provides parents and others with techniques for talking to children who may be at risk of being abused by others. Contact your parish Safeguard the Children Committee for more information about an abuse prevention training program in your area.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 27, 2007

Teach kids to protect themselves at home
We consider our homes to be safe places for our children. But being home alone can pose risks for children. Here are a few tips to teach kids that will help keep them safe when you are not with them at home: Never answer the door if alone. Do not invite anyone in the house without the permission of a parent or babysitter. Don’t tell anyone on the phone that your parents are not home. Instead tell them that your parents can’t come to the phone and take a message. For more tips, please visit: www.kidsafe.com.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650. .

August 20, 2007

Help reduce abuse statistics
Nationally, more than 2 million reports of abuse or neglect of minors are made each year. Between 25%-50% of all children will experience some form of abuse during childhood. One of every three girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18; and one out of every five to seven boys will be sexually abused by 18. Only a small percentage of child abuse is ever reported. Learn how to spot suspected abuse or neglect, and how to report it to the proper authorities. For more information, please contact your parish Safeguard the Children Committee.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 13, 2007

Internet safety for kids
The Internet has become the new schoolyard for child molesters seeking girls or boys to victimize. Internet “chat rooms” provide a teenager an opportunity to engage in a “live” conversation with friends from school or church, or with other teenagers from around the world. A chat room is described as being similar to an old style telephone party line except that the teens are typing. Law enforcement has found that child molesters use chat rooms to gain easy and safe access to teens. Because of the caring and the seductive talent of child molesters, teenagers should be warned that when they are in a chat room, they should never provide anyone with private information, personal information, and especially their specific physical location.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 6, 2007

Report inappropriate or illegal content on the Internet
One of the main reasons that children do not report the inappropriate content they find online is fear of punishment from parents. If you let them know that it is not their fault if they come across an inappropriate site, they will be more willing to come to you when it happens. If your children ever show you a site that contains illegal behavior, such as pornographic images of children, contact your Internet Service Provider and the CyberTipline at www.cybertipline.com.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 30, 2007

An appropriate way to report inappropriate behavior
How should you communicate your concerns to someone who may be behaving inappropriately with children? The “I” message is a simple way to reframe what you want to say so that the listener hears you speak of your feelings and concerns rather than hearing a complaint against themselves. The “I” message, simply diagrammed is: “I feel (feeling) when (situation) because (reason).” For example, you can say: “I feel anxious when you drive a child home alone after religious education classes because that could put you or the child in a potentially risky situation.” It is a much more constructive approach than saying: “You shouldn’t be driving children home alone because it is against the rules and puts them in danger.”
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 23, 2007

Road to priesthood involves a rigorous formation process
Seminary formation involves much more than academic study. Prior to ordination, a candidate for priesthood goes through a lengthy evaluation period, including an internship during which he lives in a rectory and works with priests, staff and parishioners. During this time, the candidate is judged as to his suitability to be a priest. No one is ordained unless the staff of St. John’s Seminary, including the lay faculty and formation advisers, concludes that the candidate has attained an emotional, psychological and sexual maturity appropriate for his age and for the celibate life of a priest. For more information, please visit http://archdiocese.la/vocations.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 16, 2007

Internet safety for kids
The Internet has become the new schoolyard for child molesters seeking girls or boys to victimize. Internet “chat rooms” provide a teenager an opportunity to engage in a “live” conversation with friends from school or church, or with other teenagers from around the world. A chat room is described as being similar to an old style telephone party line except that the teens are typing. Law enforcement has found that child molesters use chat rooms to gain easy and safe access to teens. Because of the caring and the seductive talent of child molesters, teenagers should be warned that when they are in a chat room, they should never provide anyone with private information, personal information, and especially their specific physical location.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 9, 2007

Educational materials on the danger of abuse
The overwhelming majority of our clergy and lay leaders are hardworking individuals who are dedicated to serving the People of God in our parishes and schools. All of us together are responsible for making sure that all of our ministries are as safe as possible for our children and young people. That means each of us has a responsibility to educate ourselves about the real danger of sexual abuse. The Los Angeles Archdiocese has produced two excellent pamphlets, “Respecting the Boundaries: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy and Holy,” and “Working Together to Prevent Sexual Abuse.” Both pamphlets are available online at: www.archdiocese.la.
For particular help you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

July 2, 2007

Where do your kids spend their time?
You can help keep your children safe by knowing where they spend their time. Get to know the adults who show up at the various locations in the community where children gather and where they play together. Be wary of any adult who seems more interested in creating a relationship with a child than with other adults. Pay attention when an adult seems to single out a particular child for a relationship or for special attention. Warning signs include treats, gifts, vacations, or other special favors offered only to one specific child.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 25 , 2007

Get involved in parish safety programs
Parents and guardians play a key role in the success of parish programs for young people. Parents and guardians who are involved in parish programs and events will be in the best position to protect their own children as well as all the children in the parish community. Involvement and communication are important factors in helping to ensure safe environments for all of our children. Contact the parish office for more information on how you can become actively involved in the Safeguard the Children programs in our parish.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 18 , 2007

Five tips for safeguarding children
The Archdiocese mandates that all people who work with children and youth in our parishes and schools must undergo child abuse prevention training through the VIRTUS program. The training details five steps to prevent child sexual abuse: 1. Know the warning signs of an inappropriate relationship with a child. 2. Control access to children by carefully selecting the adults who work with children and youth. 3. Monitor all programs for the safety of children and youth. 4. Be aware of and sensitive to what is going on in the lives of children. 5. Communicate concerns to the appropriate person in authority.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 11, 2007

Listen to Your Children
This summer, when your children are out of school, on different schedules, are meeting new people and going to new places, make sure that you talk to them often about their experiences and the people they’ve met. Listen carefully to your children. If possible, observe and get to know the other children and adults who are part of your children’s summertime fun. Above all, communicate your safety concerns to your children. Make sure they know that they can come to you with any concerns they may have about the people they interact with. And, if you hear of or observe behaviors that may be inappropriate, make sure to communicate your feelings to people who are in a position to intervene. Communication is key to creating and maintaining a safe environment all year round.
For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

June 4, 2007

Summertime, Safe Time
All teachers, staff and volunteers in the Archdiocese who work with children must undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks. Archdiocesan guidelines and abuse prevention training programs currently in use in the Archdiocese emphasize the importance of parents knowing who has access to their children at school and other church-sponsored activities. Summertime is here, and parents should remain vigilant regarding who is granted access to their children. Make sure camp counselors have undergone criminal background checks. And, make sure you know the camp’s “daily routine.” In particular, make sure that no camp activity results in a child being left alone with one adult. All activities should be supervised by more than one adult, and the camp should be open to unannounced drop-in visits from parents.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 28 , 2007

Tips for Summer Camp Safety
Summer is almost here. School is almost out, and a whole host of new opportunities for recreation and relaxation await. Maybe you are sending your children to a music or sports camp? Or maybe they have been invited by their friends to go camping in the mountains or at the beach? Whatever the situation, it is important to remember that parents still have the responsibility of controlling access that new people will have to their children. If your children are attending a summer camp, insist that counselors or anyone else who might have access to your children have undergone an application process that includes a criminal background check and reference checks.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 21 , 2007

Preventing child abuse is everyone’s responsibility
It is every adult’s moral responsibility to protect possible victims by reporting the suspected abuse or neglect to the responsible authorities. Sexual abuse of minors is a pervasive, societal problem, and only concerted and sustained efforts by all adults in every segment of society can help to protect children and youth. The Prevent Child Abuse California organization’s website contains helpful information about how to report abusive behavior and provides contact information of local authorities in your area: www.pca-ca.org.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 14 , 2007

Numbers you should know
Law enforcement agencies investigate and prosecute those who abuse children. To report criminal sexual abuse of a minor, you may phone the following:
Los Angeles County:  Sexually Exploited Child Unit, Los Angeles Police Department: 213 847 5358 or 213 485 2883;
Los Angeles County Sheriff Department: 323 526 5000;
District Attorney, Sexual Crimes and Child Abuse Unit: 213 974 9790.
Santa Barbara Co.: Santa Barbara County District Attorney: 805 568 2398;
Ventura County: Ventura County District Attorney: 805 658 4190.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

May 7 , 2007

What happens when abuse is reported?
Most people who hold positions of trust in Catholic institutions are mandated by California state law to report child abuse. Teachers, teacher’s aides and counselors in our schools, therapists and social workers in our counseling agencies, nurses and doctors in hospitals, and clergy in parishes or other ministries all have the obligation to report the reasonable suspicion of child abuse to the local police or to child protective services. When any of these people know of or have reasonable suspicion of abuse, they report it to the appropriate police or protective agency. This is true for those ministering in facilities owned and operated by the Archdiocese, as well as Catholic institutions owned and operated privately by religious communities.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 30 , 2007

CyberTipline fights Internet crimes against children
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other government agencies all work together to fight Internet crimes against children. They’ve established a “CyberTipline,” a reporting mechanism for cases of child sexual exploitation including child pornography, online enticement of children for sex acts, molestation of children outside the family, sex tourism of children, child victims of prostitution, and unsolicited obscene material sent to a child. Reports may be made 24-hours per day, seven days per week online at www.cybertipline.com or by calling 800 843 5678.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 23 , 2007

IOW, knowing internet lingo can help parents safeguard kids
Online chat rooms, Instant Messaging systems, and even cell phones equipped to send text messages are environments rich in abbreviations, acronyms, and other "shorthand" that help increase the speed of communication. We have created a searchable list to help parents become aware of some of the common "lingo" that is used in these environments. You may find some of these terms to be vulgar, degrading, or otherwise offensive. However, we believe it is our responsibility to provide parents and educators with this level of understanding of the dangers that face our children. For a helpful list of Internet lingo, please visit: www.virtus.org/virtus/net_acronyms.cfm
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 16 , 2007

Ensuring your child’s school is safe
Every teacher, religious, coach and volunteer who works with children in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ parishes and schools must be fingerprinted and background checked before he or she is permitted to work in any school- or parish-related job or activity that brings them into contact with children. But what about the children who attend non-Catholic private, or public schools? Talk with school administrators and find out what steps they take to protect children from harm. Suggest that they review other abuse prevention programs to ensure that their policies and practices are up-to-date. And, demand that all employees and volunteers who work in the school have been properly screened and background checked before they are allowed to be near your children.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 9 , 2007

Where do your kids go to have fun?
Protecting children from harm extends beyond the time that they are under your direct supervision. Know where your children spend their time when school is out or they are not in the house. Where do they gather and play with other kids? Are there other adults in the area? If so, who are they and what reason do they have in being there? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to keep your kids safe even when you are not with them. For more tips on child safety, please visit: www.virtus.org.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

April 2 , 2007

Internet spammers target kids, too
Does your child know what to do when he or she gets an e-mail from an unknown person? If you are allowing your children to communicate with others online, be aware that they will be exposed to spam. The easiest way to avoid spam is to make sure that your children do not give out their personal information or e-mail address to anyone they do not know. Adjust the security settings on their e-mail account to filter or block unwanted messages. Encourage your children to delete any messages they get from anyone they don’t know. Even when your children get e-mail or Instant Messages from people they know, make sure that they scan everything they are downloading onto the computer for viruses first. You can do this by making sure that you have your antivirus software up to date.

For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 26 , 2007

Picture this: A good photo could save a child’s life. One of the most important tools for law enforcement to use in the case of a missing child is an up-to-date (take a new one every six months), good-quality photograph. The photograph should be a recent, head-and-shoulders color photograph of the child in which the face is clearly seen. It should be of “school-portrait” quality, and the background should be plain or solid so it does not distract from the subject. When possible the photograph should be in a digitized form, and available on a compact disk (CD), as opposed to just a hard copy. This minimizes the time necessary to scan, resize, and make color corrects before disseminating it to law enforcement. The photograph should have space for accurate, narrative description useful to identify the child such as name, nickname, height, weight, sex, age, eye color, identifying marks, glasses, and braces.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 19 , 2007

How to report inappropriate or illegal content on the Internet
One of the main reasons that children do not report the inappropriate content they find online is fear of punishment from parents. If you let them know that it is not their fault if they come across an inappropriate site, they will be more willing to come to you when it happens. If your children ever show you a site that contains illegal behavior, such as pornographic images of children, contact your Internet Service Provider and the CyberTipline at: www.cybertipline.com.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 12 , 2007

Internet filter software is no substitute for parental monitoring
There is a lot of material on the Internet that is inappropriate for children. Parents can use filtering software to protect children from that material, but filters do not guarantee that children will not be exposed; a filter will never be a substitute for parents’ presence. Monitor your child’s online behavior. Keep your family computer in a highly visible, common area, like the family room or the kitchen. Ask your children to show you what sites they go to, and be open and willing to discuss the inappropriate material they might come across.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

March 5 , 2007

Keeping your child’s personal information personal
If your children give out personal information over the Internet, not only is it easy to track, it’s tough to completely remove. Emphasize to them how important it is that they keep personal information private. Make sure that they have a strong username and password that doesn’t reveal anything personal. Encourage them not to give out their e-mail address, if they have one. If your children tell you that they have given out personal information online, contact your Internet Service Provider or the site where the information is posted to see what you can do to have it removed. For more information, visit: www.NetSmartz.org.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 26 , 2007

What do molesters look like?
Child molesters belong to every profession, gender, ethnic group, and they live in rural, urban and suburban areas. There is no “look” about them that indicates that they are a danger to the physical and emotional health of our children. It is imperative that we look beyond demographic characteristics and focus on the behaviors of adults when they are around children. We must regularly refresh the basic knowledge and actions required to keep children safe. For tips on recognizing and reporting inappropriate behavior, please visit: www.virtus.org.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 20 , 2007

The cases of sexual abuse of minors by some clergy have affected Cardinal Roger Mahony and the many wonderful priests of our Archdiocese personally and deeply. Over the past several years, Cardinal Mahony has met with many victims and survivors of sexual abuse, and has listened to their stories of betrayal and grief. The many levels of harm which touched their lives continue to cause him great sadness. Cardinal Mahony has called upon all of the faithful to pray for the victims of abuse and their families, that they might experience healing, and that they may find support and acceptance in their parishes and communities. For more on efforts to promote healing within the church, please visit the Archdiocesan website: http://www.archdiocese.la.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 12 , 2007

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Safeguard the Children Program is designed to protect people beyond children. Although the focus is certainly on the great gift of precious childhood, the Church includes all of God’s children — children, adults, and, in a very special way, vulnerable adults. A vulnerable person is one who is exposed to physical or emotional abuse. And there are, of course, many ways people become vulnerable. It can be through mental, emotional, or physical challenges from birth, an accident, or through the process of illness or advanced age. If you have concerns that someone may be suffering from abuse, please contact Sister Sheila McNiff in the Archdiocese’s Office of Assistance Ministry, 800 355 2545.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

February 5 , 2007

Did you know that outreach to victims of sexual abuse is one of the ministries in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles? The Office of Assistance Ministry provides assistance towards healing by means of therapy, spiritual direction and mutual support groups. Sister Sheila McNiff, who has over 20 years’ experience in outreach, clergy misconduct assessment and counseling, coordinates Assistance Ministry in the Archdiocese. If now, or at any time in the past, a priest, deacon or other person representing the Church has sexually abused you, you are urged to contact Sister Sheila by calling the Office of Assistance Ministry, 800 355 2545.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 29, 2007

It is vitally important that we are constantly vigilant — that we always observe the behaviors of those who interact with children. And, we must always communicate our concerns to the appropriate parties. Sometimes, this means communicating our safety concerns to our children. And, sometimes, this means communicating our concerns about seemingly inappropriate behavior to those who are in a position to intervene. They must also listen carefully to their children, and observe both their children’s activities and the behavior of older children and adults who interact with children. When children exhibit dramatic behavioral changes, adults must find out what caused the changes. Being aware of what’s happening with our children means talking to, listening to, and observing them — at every opportunity.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 22, 2007

To know that we are children of God is to live in complete love, with deep abiding security, and the ability to dream, to sing, to create, to laugh, and to play without worry. It is a freedom to love, with full trust and confidence, the creatures whom God has sent to us in our world. As we grow older, we face a new reality—we cannot approach all God’s creation with the same trust and confidence. We learn, through sometimes hurtful and damaging experiences, that some people reject the ability that God gave them to love and respect others—they ignore God’s call to love and respect others. The Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children program helps reminds us of these very facts. With the help of this program, the faithful are guided and educated about the responsibility of how to keep God’s children protected and safe. To learn more about the program, please call the parish office or 213 637 7227.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 16, 2007

As noted last week, most child abuse occurs only after the perpetrator has gained the trust of the child and his or her parents and guardians through a process called “grooming.” Two of the three elements of grooming behavior – physical and psychological – were described, but there is a third element, known as community grooming. While the physical and psychological grooming are progressing with the child, the perpetrator is grooming the parents, guardians and the rest of the community. The purpose is to convince us that this is someone who really cares about kids and is committed to their well-being so that we will not notice the warning signs or will disregard them because we can’t believe the perpetrator would commit such a crime. The process can take as little as a few days or as long as a few months, but the perpetrator is willing to be patient in an effort to gain the trust of everyone involved. This is how child molesters avoid being caught. For more information on child protection efforts and programs, call the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 8, 2007

Most child abuse occurs after the perpetrator has gained the trust of the child and his or her parents and guardians through a process called “grooming.” The grooming process has three basic elements, which are both separate and interrelated: Physical grooming, psychological grooming and community grooming. Physical grooming can begin with a simple pat on the back, but over time becomes more intimate. Psychological grooming takes many forms, all of which are designed to drive a wedge between the child and the parent or guardian and to pull the child under the control of the perpetrator. Psychological techniques include a wide variety of activities from telling a child that sexual contact is “an act of love sanctioned by God” to threatening harm to someone the child loves if he or she tells anyone about the abuse. Community grooming will be described next week.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

January 2, 2007

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the latest national survey confirms there are now more than 374,270 registered sex offenders nationwide in the United States. California has the largest number of registered sex offenders of any state, due to its lifetime sex offender registration requirement and a population exceeding an estimated 35 million residents. Since 1996, individuals have had access at police stations to the names and addresses of registered sex offenders in California. On January 1, 2005, this information became available to anyone through a government website. The website contains an excellent summary of Megan’s Law and its implications. To access the website, go to: http://MegansLaw.ca.gov.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 18, 2006

“The Archdiocese has committed significant resources to help those who were harmed [by clergy sexual abuse] to recover from their horrible experiences. We hope our efforts will help, but we realize that only the grace of God can provide the complete healing the victims need. In the midst of this sorrowful story, lessons have been learned and taken deeply to heart. Ineffective policies of the past have been rejected. Understandings that did not measure up to human realities have changed. New insights and policies can now offer protection to all our people.” –From Report to the People of God: Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 1930-2003. To view the full Report online, go to: www.archdiocese.la.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 11, 2006

When any adult in the faith community has reason to suspect that a child is being or has been abused, he or she has a moral (and often a legal) responsibility to report those suspicions to civil authorities. Reporting suspected abuse takes courage. However, adults who take a stand for children and make the call are often responsible for saving a child from terrible torment. Read more about how to identify and to report suspected abuse by reading two pamphlets produced by the Archdiocese, “Respecting the Boundaries: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy and Holy,” and “Working Together to Prevent Sexual Abuse.” Both pamphlets are available online at: www.archdiocese.la.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

December 4, 2006

Child sexual abuse is a great deal more prevalent than many imagine. In fact, studies tell us that one in 10 adult men and one in five adult women say that they were molested before the age of 18. That means that, directly or indirectly, child sexual abuse will touch most of us during our lifetime. And, although we would like to believe that most accusations are false, the facts tell us that children rarely lie about being molested. In fact, they rarely tell anyone at all. An adult study about the prevalence of sexual abuse found that 42 percent of the men and 33 percent of the women who were victimized had never told anyone. To learn more about how to identify and prevent potentially abusive behavior, please call the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 27, 2006

The Archdiocese mandates that all people who work with children and youth in our parishes and schools must undergo child abuse prevention training through the VIRTUS program. The training details five steps to prevent child sexual abuse: 1. Know the warning signs of an inappropriate relationship with a child. 2. Control access to children by carefully selecting the adults who work with children and youth. 3. Monitor all programs for the safety of children and youth. 4. Be aware of and sensitive to what is going on in the lives of children. 5. Communicate concerns to the appropriate person in authority.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 20, 2006

Child safety tip: You can help keep your children safe by knowing where they spend their time. Get to know the adults who show up at the various locations in the community where children gather and where they play together. Be wary of any adult who seems more interested in creating a relationship with a child than with other adults. Pay attention when an adult seems to single out a particular child for a relationship or for special attention. Warning signs include treats, gifts, vacations, or other special favors offered only to one specific child
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 13, 2006

Parents and guardians play a key role in the success of parish programs for young people. Parents and guardians who are involved in parish programs and events will be in the best position to protect their own children as well as all the children in the parish community. Involvement and communication are important factors in helping to ensure safe environments for all of our children
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

November 6, 2006

Safety Rules Bear Repeating
Research reminds us that teaching children how to resist the overtures of a potential molester requires repetition and reinforcement. Children and young people need to know the rules and they need to hear them over and over and over again so that the rules become part of a thought process. This is done the same way we teach the rules about looking both ways before crossing the street and the danger of getting too close to an open flame. Empowering children to speak up and resist the overtures of potential molesters can stop a child molester in his or her tracks. Molesters who fear being caught — and being labeled a molester — may decide it is not worth the risk and back off.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 30, 2006

Prevalence of Abuse in Society
In surveys of adults, one out of five women and one out of 10 men reported that they were sexually molested before they were 18 years old. This means that an estimated 40 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse are living in the United States today.
An estimated 9.6 percent of all school children will be molested by an educator or an employee of a school between kindergarten and 12th grade. Between 13 and 34 percent of all females will be victims of sexual assault before the age of 18 and 7 to 16 percent of all males will also be victimized before they are 18. To learn more about helping to create safe environments for all of our children, please contact Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 23, 2006

Who Are the Abusers
Estimates are that approximately 60 percent of abusers are men, 15 to 20 percent are women, and 20 to 40 percent are men and women acting together. So, while men are indeed the majority of sexual abusers, it is dangerous to underestimate the risk that female sexual abusers also pose to children. Among educators, 57.2 percent of abusers are male and 42.4 percent of abusers are female. To learn more about creating safe environments in the school and home, please contact Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 16, 2006

Children Do Not Lie About Abuse
Most children are not lying when they say that they were abused. Less than 5 percent of all allegations are intentionally false. It is more likely that children will refuse to tell about abuse than to lie about abuse. Several studies estimate that only about 6 percent of all children report sexual abuse by an adult to someone who can do something about it. The other 94 percent do not tell anyone or talk only to a friend. (And they swear their friend to secrecy). To find out more about how to create an environment where children are confident in disclosing information that may indicate that they were abused, please contact Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 9, 2006

Safety Rules Bear Repeating
Research reminds us that teaching children how to resist the overtures of a potential molester requires repetition and reinforcement. Children and young people need to know the rules and they need to hear them over and over and over again so that the rules become part of a thought process. This is done the same way we teach the rules about looking both ways before crossing the street and the danger of getting too close to an open flame. Empowering children to speak up and resist the overtures of potential molesters can stop a child molester in his or her tracks. Molesters who fear being caught — and being labeled a molester — may decide it is not worth the risk and back off.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

October 2, 2006

What Is ‘Relational Bullying’
Relational bullying is unwarranted, persistent, unwelcome behavior in the form of criticism, isolation, or fabricated allegations that can damage relationships. Examples include social exclusion, (“You can’t be with us”), spreading rumors (“Did you hear…?), and withholding friendship (“I won’t be your friend if you…”). Though relational bullying can often seem ambiguous to outside observers and often garners less attention than physical bullying or verbal bullying, it should not be discounted simply as normal, adolescent behavior. In fact, several recent studies suggest relational bullying is more strongly related to emotional distress and teen depression than any other form of bullying. Make sure your child’s school does not tolerate such behavior among its students.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 25, 2006

Know the Warning Signs of Abuse
Child molesters look like everyone else. They don’t look like scary people that anyone should know to avoid. Rather, they live with their families in our neighborhoods. One of the most important ways to assure the safety of children in our environments is to know the warning signs of adults who present a risk of harm to children. Among these signs are: 1. Always wants to be alone with children in areas where no one can monitor the interaction. 2. Allows children to do things their parents would not permit. 3. Is always more excited to be with children than with adults. 4. Discourages others from participating in activities involving kids. For more information on how to protect children, please call the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 18, 2006

Reporting Suspected Abuse Takes Courage
When any adult in the faith community has reason to suspect that a child is being or has been abused, he or she has a moral (and often a legal) responsibility to report those suspicions to civil authorities. Reporting suspected abuse takes courage. However, adults who take a stand for children and make the call are often responsible for saving a child from terrible torment. Read more about how to identify and to report suspected abuse by reading two pamphlets produced by the Archdiocese, “Respecting the Boundaries: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy and Holy,” and “Working Together to Prevent Sexual Abuse.” Both pamphlets are available online at: www.archdiocese.la.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 11, 2006

Archdiocese Mandates Abuse Prevention Training
The Archdiocese mandates that all people who work with children and youth in our parishes and schools must undergo child abuse prevention training through the VIRTUS program. The training details five steps to prevent child sexual abuse: 1. Know the warning signs of an inappropriate relationship with a child. 2. Control access to children by carefully selecting the adults who work with children and youth. 3. Monitor all programs for the safety of children and youth. 4. Be aware of and sensitive to what is going on in the lives of children. 5. Communicate concerns to the appropriate person in authority.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

September 5, 2006

Where Do Kids Go After School?
You can help keep your children safe by knowing where they spend their time. Get to know the adults who show up at the various locations in the community where children gather and where they play together. Be wary of any adult who seems more interested in creating a relationship with a child than with other adults. Pay attention when an adult seems to single out a particular child for a relationship or for special attention. Warning signs include treats, gifts, vacations, or other special favors offered only to one specific child.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 28, 2006

Know Your Kids’ School
When choosing a nursery, daycare center or school, parents should inspect the building and grounds to make sure there are no areas where children play or work that are “off limits” to parents. Such facilities should have a policy that welcomes parents to visit the center or school without prior appointment.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 21, 2006

Assistance Ministry Helps Abuse Victims
Did you know that outreach to victims of sexual abuse is one of the ministries in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles? The Office of Assistance Ministry provides assistance towards healing by means of therapy, spiritual direction and mutual support groups. Sister Sheila McNiff, who has over 20 years’ experience in outreach, clergy misconduct assessment and counseling, coordinates Assistance Ministry in the Archdiocese. If now, or at any time in the past, a priest, deacon or other person representing the Church has sexually abused you, you are urged to contact Sister Sheila by calling the Office of Assistance Ministry, 800 355 2545.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650.

August 14, 2006

Resources to Help Keep Kids Safe
In addition to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ website, www.la-archdiocese.org, and www.virtus.org, the website of a child safety training program utilized throughout the archdiocese, the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children offers dozens of well-produced informational brochures covering a broad range of child safety topics. Go to www.ncmec.org and click on “Resources for Parents & Guardians” to find these brochures, and other helpful information about child safety.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650

August 7, 2006

Can You Pass the ‘Blog Beware’ Quiz?
Internet “blogs” and other social networking sites have recently exploded in popularity and in the news. The number of MySpace.com users is currently estimated at more than 67 million. The majority of activity on these and other youth-oriented websites is positive. However, we’ve all read stories of how those who would harm children use these sites to lure children and teens into inappropriate discussions. To combat this danger, www.NetSmartz.org offers a wide range of Internet safety resources for parents and children. Start by taking the “Blog Beware” Quiz. For kids, there’s a related site:  www.NetSmartzKids.org.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650

July 31, 2006

Sex Abuse Prevention Tips for Single Parents
Raising children as a single parent or guardian often presents a whole host of challenges. Many single parents heroically work to balance work, school and other commitments. With so much to do, how can a single parent integrate child safety practices into his or her daily routine? In supervising their children, single parents often seek assistance from a close confidant, a trusted friend or an extended family member can be helpful. Know these people well, and tell your children that “no secrets” may be kept at any time from anyone. For guidelines and suggestions on sexual abuse prevention for single parents, please visit: www.virtus.org.
For particular help you may call Sr. Sheila McNiff, Director of Assistance Ministry at 213 637 7650

July 24, 2006

Always Keep an Up-To-Date Photo of Your Child
One of the most important tools for law enforcement to use in the case of a missing child is an up-to-date, good-quality photograph. The photograph should be a recent, head-and-shoulders color photograph of the child in which the face is clearly seen. It should be of “school-portrait” quality, and the background should be plain or solid so it does not distract from the subject. When possible the photograph should be in a digitized form, and available on a compact disk (CD), as opposed to just a hard copy. This minimizes the time necessary to scan, resize, and make color corrects before disseminating it to law enforcement. The photograph should be updated at least every six months for children 6 years of age or younger and then once a year, or when a child's appearance changes.

July 17, 2006

How Big of a Problem Is Child Sexual Exploitation?
The sexual victimization of children is overwhelming in magnitude yet largely unrecognized and underreported. Statistics show that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys are sexually exploited before they reach adulthood, yet less than 35 percent of those child sexual assaults are reported to authorities. Creating safe environments for our children is as important as ever. Parents and all who work with children need to become better informed about the warning signs of sexual abuse, so that they can prevent it before it occurs. For more information on child safety policies and programs in our parish, please call the parish office.

July 10, 2006

Do Those Missing Children Postcards Really Work?
Absolutely. One in six of the missing kids featured on these cards are recovered as a direct result of the photograph. The cards reach up to 79 million homes weekly with the photographs of missing children. So, the next time you reach into your mailbox and find one of these cards, take a good look at the child’s picture. You never know when you might be the one who makes the difference in helping to find a missing child.

July 3, 2006

How Many Children Are Sexually Approached and/or Solicited Online?
According to Highlights of the Youth Internet Safety Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice “one in five children (10 to 17 years old) receive unwanted sexual solicitations online.” In 1998, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), in cooperation with the FBI and other government agencies, established the CyberTipline as a means whereby people may report incidents of online child sexual exploitation. For more information, please visit www.cybertipline.com or call toll-free: 800 843 5678.

June 26, 2006

How Many Registered Sex Offenders in California?
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the latest national survey confirms there are now more than 374,270 registered sex offenders nationwide in the United States. California has the largest number of registered sex offenders (more than 104,000) of any state, due to its lifetime sex offender registration requirement and a population exceeding an estimated 35 million residents. The U.S. Justice Department maintains a searchable list of registered sex offenders on its website: http://www.nsopr.gov

June 19, 2006

@TEOTD Are Your Kids AATK?
Do you understand the sentence above? Chances are your kids do. The Internet is a great resource of information and fun, but like nearly everything else these days, cyberspace brings with it its own set of challenges for parents. Parents should monitor their children’s web use, and become familiar with the multitude of abbreviations, acronyms and other “shorthand” that their children may be receiving via Internet chat rooms, Instant Messaging systems and text message devices. For a searchable database of this Internet “lingo” please visit: www.virtus.org/virtus/net_acronyms.cfm.

June 12, 2006

Listen to Your Children
This summer, when your children are out of school, on different schedules, are meeting new people and going to new places, make sure that you talk to them often about their experiences and the people they’ve met. Listen carefully to your children. If possible, observe and get to know the other children and adults who are part of your children’s summertime fun. Above all, communicate your safety concerns to your children. Make sure they know that they can come to you with any concerns they may have about the people they interact with. And, if you hear of or observe behaviors that may be inappropriate, make sure to communicate your feelings to people who are in a position to intervene. Communication is key to creating and maintaining a safe environment all year round.

June 5, 2006

Summertime, Safe Time
All teachers, staff and volunteers in the Archdiocese who work with children must undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks. Archdiocesan guidelines and abuse prevention training programs currently in use in the Archdiocese emphasize the importance of parents knowing who has access to their children at school and other church-sponsored activities. Summertime is here, and parents should remain vigilant regarding who is granted access to their children. Make sure camp counselors have undergone criminal background checks. And, make sure you know the camp’s “daily routine.” In particular, make sure that no camp activity results in a child being left alone with one adult. All activities should be supervised by more than one adult, and the camp should be open to unannounced drop-in visits from parents.

May 29, 2006

Tips for Summer Camp Safety
Summer is almost here. School is almost out, and a whole host of new opportunities for recreation and relaxation await. Maybe you are sending your children to a music or sports camp? Or maybe they have been invited by their friends to go camping in the mountains or at the beach? Whatever the situation, it is important to remember that parents still have the responsibility of controlling access that new people will have to their children. If your children are attending a summer camp, insist that counselors or anyone else who might have access to your children have undergone an application process that includes a criminal background check and reference checks.

May 22, 2006

Child molesters look like everyone else. They do not have horns and a tail. Nor do they look like scary people that anyone should know to avoid. Rather, they live with their families in our neighborhoods. One of the most important ways to assure the safety of children in our environments is to know the warning signs of adults who present a risk of harm to children. Among these signs are: 1. Always wants to be alone with children in areas where no one can monitor the interaction. 2. Allows children to do things their parents would not permit. 3. Is always more excited to be with children than with adults. 4. Discourages others from participating in activities involving kids. For more information on how to protect children, please call the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.

May 15, 2006

What do protecting children, the Da Vinci Code and immigration reform have in common?
Each is the focus of excellent and informative websites produced and sponsored by the U.S. Catholic bishops. Summer is here and these are three great “surf” sites! The frequently-updatedwebpage of the bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection, www.usccb.org/ocyp/,provides contact information for victim assistance coordinators throughout the nation, offers tip and strategies for helping to keep children safe, and serves as a library for church documents pertaining to protecting our children. “Jesus Decoded,”www.jesusdecoded.com, presents accurate historical information to refute claims made in the “Da Vinci Code” about the nature of Jesus; his relationship with Mary Magdalene; the first four ecumenical councils of the early church; the role of women in the church throughout history; the “Last Supper" paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and much more. The Catholic social teachings that underpin the Church’s call for just and humane immigration reform in the U.S. can be found at www.justiceforimmigrants.com. The site is loaded with background material that provides a solid theological foundation for supporting legislative reform.

May 8, 2006

“The Archdiocese has committed significant resources to help those who were harmed [by clergy sexual abuse] to recover from their horrible experiences. We hope our efforts will help, but we realize that only the grace of God can provide the complete healing the victims need. In the midst of this sorrowful story, lessons have been learned and taken deeply to heart. Ineffective policies of the past have been rejected. Understandings that did not measure up to human realities have changed. New insights and policies can now offer protection to all our people.” –From Report to the People of God: Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 1930-2003. To view the full Report online, go to: http://www.archdiocese.la.

May 1, 2006

When any adult in the faith community has reason to suspect that a child is being or has been abused, he or she has a moral (and often a legal) responsibility to report those suspicions to civil authorities. Reporting suspected abuse takes courage. However, adults who take a stand for children and make the call are often responsible for saving a child from terrible torment. Read more about how to identify and to report suspected abuse by reading two pamphlets produced by the Archdiocese, “Respecting the Boundaries: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy and Holy,” and “Working Together to Prevent Sexual Abuse.” Both pamphlets are available online at: http://www.archdiocese.la.

April 24, 2006

Child sexual abuse is a great deal more prevalent than many imagine. In fact, studies tell us that one in 10 adult men and one in five adult women say that they were molested before the age of 18. That means that, directly or indirectly, child sexual abuse will touch most of us during our lifetime. And, although we would like to believe that most accusations are false, the facts tell us that children rarely lie about being molested. In fact, they rarely tell anyone at all. An adult study about the prevalence of sexual abuse found that 42 percent of the men and 33 percent of the women who were victimized had never told anyone. To learn more about how to identify and prevent potentially abusive behavior, please call the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.

April 17, 2006

Child Safety tip:  Teach children to say, “Stop it,” to instructions that might encourage them to do things they really do not want to do.  Reinforce the rule that children should say, “Stop it,” to requests or demands that make them uncomfortable, even if they think they should obey.  A discussion of these rules can teach a child that there are some times when it is okay to say, “Stop it,” and other times when it is okay to go along with the instructions.

April 10, 2006

Child safety tip:  You can help keep your children safe by knowing where they spend their time. Get to know the adults who show up at the various locations in the community where children gather and where they play together.  Be wary of any adult who seems more interested in creating a relationship with a child than with other adults.  Pay attention when an adult seems to single out a particular child for a relationship, or for special attention.  Warning signs include treats, gifts, vacations, or other special favors offered only to one specific child.

April 3, 2006

Parents and guardians have the primary responsibility for protecting their children from all potential harm. When choosing a nursery, daycare center or school, parents should inspect the building and grounds to make sure there are no areas where children play or work that are “off limits” to parents. Such facilities should have a policy that welcomes parents to visit the center or school without prior appointment.

March 27, 2006

Did you know that every person working with children and youth in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is mandated to attend VIRTUS training? VIRTUS is designed to prevent child abuse by making adults aware of how sexual abuse is perpetrated by adults as well as other children. More than 25,000 adults have gone through the VIRTUS training program in the Archdiocese. To find out about VIRTUS training sessions near you, please call the parish office or the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, (213) 637-7227.

March 20, 2006

Did you know that outreach to victims of sexual abuse is one of the ministries in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles? The Office of Assistance Ministry provides assistance towards healing by means of therapy, spiritual direction and mutual support groups. Sister Sheila McNiff, who has over 20 years’ experience in outreach, clergy misconduct assessment and counseling, coordinates Assistance Ministry in the Archdiocese. If now, or at any time in the past, a priest, deacon or other person representing the Church has sexually abused you, you are urged to contact Sister Sheila by calling the Office of Assistance Ministry, (800) 355-2545.

March 13, 2006

A webcam is a video camera that is connected to a user’s computer and is most often positioned on top of the user’s computer monitor. When activated in conjunction with an online service the webcam will permit the user to transmit video images of himself or herself to others in real time. Webcams can be the source of convenience and amusement for viewing friends from other schools or relatives who live out of state. Unfortunately, due to its use by child molesters who search the Internet for unsuspecting children, the webcam is the single most dangerous peripheral device that can be attached to a child’s or young person’s computer. Prior to a connecting a webcam or a microphone to a computer, specific rules should be established to help protect the safety of everyone involved.

March 6, 2006

Scripture tells us to “Rejoice in Hope,” (Romans 12:12) and it is through this powerful invitation that many come to wholeness and healing. St. Augustine said: “We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.” And St. Thomas Aquinas said: “We should be an Alleluia from head to toe.” Their reminders about the importance of our call to be men and women of celebration about our life as fully redeemed, fully loved, and fully alive human beings is the call to all victims and survivors of sexual abuse to rejoice in the great hope that they will again, one day, be fully a thriver in the community—someone whose gifts are acknowledged, whose abuse is believed, and whose life is valued by others. For more information on preventing sexual abuse and on the outreach programs available to help victims to heal, please contact Sister Sheila McNiff in the Archdiocese’s Office of Assistance Ministry, (800) 355-2545

February 27, 2006

In June 2000 a study titled Online Victimization was conducted for the United States Department of Justice. In the study a national sampling of children found that: Approximately one in five children had received a sexual solicitation or approach over the Internet in the last year. One in four children on the Internet had an unwanted exposure to naked people or people having sex in the last year. One in thirty-three children received an aggressive sexual solicitation—a solicitor who asked to meet them somewhere called them on the telephone, or sent them mail, money, or gifts. Today even more children in the United States are online; undoubtedly if a national sampling of children was interviewed in 2005, these numbers would be even higher. As pervasive and tempting as the Internet can be, it is essential for parents, teachers, and members of the clergy to be knowledgeable and fluent in both the negative and the positive aspects of the Internet. Parents, teachers and members of the clergy must speak very openly about online child safety issues.

February 20, 2006

You can help create a safer environment for children by leaving your parish or community environment safer each day than when you started. This could be as simple as training yourself to do a more effective job of keeping your eye on those around you when they interact with children. It sounds overly simple but most of us don’t really do it, and it can be an easy habit to develop. It just takes persistence and a way to measure your success. For example, in order to make yourself “notice” those who are interacting with children, you could try counting the number of children you see each day interacting with non-parental adults. Okay…so this would be a little unrealistic for a schoolteacher…but for the rest of us it could be a very big learning experience. To learn more about parish efforts to create safe environments for our children, please contact the parish office.

February 13, 2006

You can help create a safer environment for children by identifying the “strengths” in those around you, and providing each of your employees, co-workers, and peers with genuine compliments regarding their respective contribution to your community’s abuse prevention efforts. Everyone appreciates a pat on the back every now and then. Notice those who genuinely inspire you and give them a genuine and well-deserved pat on the back. For more information about your parish’s programs to educate and train adults in child abuse prevention, please call the parish office.

February 6, 2006

You can help create a safer environment for children by inspiring others to participate in your community’s abuse-prevention efforts. This could be as simple as identifying one person each week who hasn’t participated in your parish’s awareness sessions or other abuse-prevention activities, and offering them information about how they can help. If you focus on the baby steps—in this case, identifying and inviting one (1) person per week to get involved in preventing abuse—during the next 12 months you could realistically recruit more than four dozen people to your community’s abuse prevention efforts. Wow! That could have some real impact. But, remember…baby steps. Otherwise, the long-term goal may become too overwhelming to keep you inspired. For more information about your parish’s Safeguard the Children Committee, call the parish office.

January 30, 2006

You can help create a safer environment for children by learning something new each week about an abuse-related issue. It doesn’t have to be something major or time-consuming to be a benefit. It could be as simple as keeping your eye open for news items or statistics that broaden your understanding about different types of abuse, characteristics of abusers, warning signs that a child is a victim, and other such information. The sources are all around you…TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, the Internet, co-workers, peer groups…it’s up to you to create a specific action plan that defines how much effort you’ll invest each week, how much you intend to learn, and then to identify specific sources for information. For more information, visit the Archdiocese’s website: http://www.archdiocese.la.

January 23, 2006

Cell phones with photographic capability are a mixed blessing. Forget your camera? Whip out the cell phone and your toddler’s first step, friend's goofy mishap, or fender-bender is captured for posterity. But cell phones are also being used in a sinister way—to silently take pictures of unsuspecting children, adolescents, and adults in compromising positions and without their consent. Plus, unlike conventional photographs, digital photos can be placed on the Internet very quickly—within minutes of the photo being taken—and distributed around the world. In fact, some websites have been created for the sole purpose of posting photos taken surreptitiously with camera phones. Have a healthy suspicion of anyone using a cell phone in an awkward way, such as not holding it up to his or her ear or facing his or her mouth in a walkie-talkie style. Be especially cognizant of any suspicious cell phone use in areas where people could be in various states of undress or where children are gathered. If you see someone using a cell phone in a way that appears suspicious, don't be afraid to ask what he or she is doing or to alert someone in a position of authority about your concerns.

January 16, 2006

A webcam is a video camera that is connected to a user’s computer and is most often positioned on top of the user’s computer monitor. When activated in conjunction with an online service the webcam will permit the user to transmit video images of himself or herself to others in real time. Webcams can be the source of convenience and amusement for viewing friends from other schools or relatives who live out of state. Unfortunately, due to its use by child molesters who search the Internet for unsuspecting children, the webcam is the single most dangerous peripheral device that can be attached to a child’s or young person’s computer. Prior to a connecting a webcam or a microphone to a computer, specific rules should be established to help protect the safety of everyone involved.

January 9, 2006

Is child sexual abuse still a “crisis,” today? Regardless of the answer, we are faced with both good and bad news. Instead of scandalous headlines and emotionally charged confrontations, child sexual abuse has become a very sad reality in our daily lives. Child sexual abuse has been, is, and will continue to be a societal evil that must be battled each and every day for as long as there are children to protect. But, if we are willing to face this daily challenge, to tackle this unfortunate and tragic problem, to treat child safety and security as a ministry, then it truly can be said that we are a part of the solution. For more information on parish Safeguard the Children efforts, please contact the parish office.

January 2, 2006

Safeguard the Children Committees have been established in parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. A primary goal of these committees is to ensure that all children and youth experience safe environments in all parish activities and events. These committees also inform all parish personnel, committees, ministries and volunteers of the available resources for educating their constituencies on all aspects of child and youth abuse and neglect. For more information, call the parish office or the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227 .

December 26, 2005

Child molesters look like everyone else. They do not have horns and a tail. Nor do they look like scary people that anyone should know to avoid. Rather, they live with their families in our neighborhoods. One of the most important ways to assure the safety of children in our environments is to know the warning signs of adults who present a risk of harm to children. Among these signs are:
  1. Always wants to be alone with children in areas where no one can monitor the interaction.
  2. Allows children to do things their parents would not permit.
  3. Is always more excited to be with children than with adults.
  4. Discourages others from participating in activities involving kids.
For more information on how to protect children, please call the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.

December 19, 2005

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the latest national survey confirms there are now more than 374,270 registered sex offenders nationwide in the United States. California has the largest number of registered sex offenders of any state, due to its lifetime sex offender registration requirement and a population exceeding an estimated 35 million residents. Since 1996, individuals have had access at police stations to the names and addresses of registered sex offenders in California. On January 1, 2005, this information became available to anyone through a government website. The website contains an excellent summary of Megan’s Law and its implications. To access the website, go to: http://MegansLaw.ca.gov.

December 12, 2005

“The Archdiocese has committed significant resources to help those who were harmed [by clergy sexual abuse] to recover from their horrible experiences. We hope our efforts will help, but we realize that only the grace of God can provide the complete healing the victims need. In the midst of this sorrowful story, lessons have been learned and taken deeply to heart. Ineffective policies of the past have been rejected. Understandings that did not measure up to human realities have changed. New insights and policies can now offer protection to all our people.” –From Report to the People of God: Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 1930-2003. To view the full Report online, go to: www.archdiocese.la.

December 5, 2005

When any adult in the faith community has reason to suspect that a child is being or has been abused, he or she has a moral (and often a legal) responsibility to report those suspicions to civil authorities. Reporting suspected abuse takes courage. However, adults who take a stand for children and make the call are often responsible for saving a child from terrible torment. Read more about how to identify and to report suspected abuse by reading two pamphlets produced by the Archdiocese, “Respecting the Boundaries: Keeping Ministerial Relationships Healthy and Holy,” and “Working Together to Prevent Sexual Abuse.” Both pamphlets are available online at: www.archdiocese.la.

November 28, 2005

Child sexual abuse is a great deal more prevalent than many imagine. In fact, studies tell us that one in 10 adult men and one in five adult women say that they were molested before the age of 18. That means that, directly or indirectly, child sexual abuse will touch most of us during our lifetime. And, although we would like to believe that most accusations are false, the facts tell us that children rarely lie about being molested. In fact, they rarely tell anyone at all. An adult study about the prevalence of sexual abuse found that 42 percent of the men and 33 percent of the women who were victimized had never told anyone. To learn more about how to identify and prevent potentially abusive behavior, please call the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.

November 21, 2005

The cases of sexual abuse of minors by some clergy have affected Cardinal Roger Mahony and the many wonderful priests of our Archdiocese personally and deeply. Over the past several years, Cardinal Mahony has met with many victims and survivors of sexual abuse, and has listened to their stories of betrayal and grief. The many levels of harm which touched their lives continue to cause him great sadness. Cardinal Mahony has called upon all of the faithful to pray for the victims of abuse and their families, that they might experience healing, and that they may find support and acceptance in their parishes and communities. For more on efforts to promote healing within the church, please visit the Archdiocesan website: www.archdiocese.la.

November 14, 2005

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Safeguard the Children Program is designed to protect people beyond children. Although the focus is certainly on the great gift of precious childhood, the Church includes all of God’s children — children, adults, and, in a very special way, vulnerable adults. A vulnerable person is one who is exposed to physical or emotional abuse. And there are, of course, many ways people become vulnerable. It can be through mental, emotional, or physical challenges from birth, an accident, or through the process of illness or advanced age. If you have concerns that someone may be suffering from abuse, please contact Sister Sheila McNiff in the Archdiocese’s Office of Assistance Ministry, 800 355 2545.

November 7, 2005

Did you know that outreach to victims of sexual abuse is one of the ministries in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles? The Office of Assistance Ministry provides assistance towards healing by means of therapy, spiritual direction and mutual support groups. Sister Sheila McNiff, who has over 20 years’ experience in outreach, clergy misconduct assessment and counseling, coordinates Assistance Ministry in the Archdiocese. If now, or at any time in the past, a priest, deacon or other person representing the Church has sexually abused you, you are urged to contact Sister Sheila by calling the Office of Assistance Ministry, 800 355 2545.

October 31, 2005

To know that we are children of God is to live in complete love, with deep abiding security, and the ability to dream, to sing, to create, to laugh, and to play without worry. As we grow older, we face a new reality—we cannot approach all God’s creation with the same trust and confidence. We learn, through sometimes hurtful and damaging experiences, that some people reject the ability that God gave them to love and respect others—they ignore God’s call to love and respect others. The Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children program helps reminds us of these very facts. With the help of this program, the faithful are guided and educated about the responsibility of how to keep God’s children protected and safe. To learn more about the program, please call the parish office or 213 637 7227.

October 24, 2005

As noted last week, most child abuse occurs only after the perpetrator has gained the trust of the child and his or her parents and guardians through a process called “grooming.” Two of the three elements of grooming behavior – physical and psychological – were described, but there is a third element, known as community grooming. While the physical and psychological grooming are progressing with the child, the perpetrator is grooming the parents, guardians and the rest of the community. The purpose is to convince us that this is someone who really cares about kids and is committed to their well-being so that we will not notice the warning signs or will disregard them because we can’t believe the perpetrator would commit such a crime. The process can take as little as a few days or as long as a few months, but the perpetrator is willing to be patient in an effort to gain the trust of everyone involved. This is how child molesters avoid being caught. For more information on child protection efforts and programs, call the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.

October 17, 2005

Most child abuse occurs after the perpetrator has gained the trust of the child and his or her parents and guardians through a process called “grooming.” The grooming process has three basic elements, which are both separate and interrelated: Physical grooming, psychological grooming and community grooming. Physical grooming can begin with a simple pat on the back, but over time becomes more intimate. Psychological grooming takes many forms, all of which are designed to drive a wedge between the child and the parent or guardian and to pull the child under the control of the perpetrator. Psychological techniques include a wide variety of activities from telling a child that sexual contact is “an act of love sanctioned by God” to threatening harm to someone the child loves if he or she tells anyone about the abuse. Community grooming will be described next week.

October 3, 2005

With school back in session, it is worth remembering that parents and guardians have the primary responsibility for protecting their children from all potential harm. When choosing a nursery, daycare center or school, parents should inspect the building and grounds to make sure there are no areas where children play or work that are “off limits” to parents. Such facilities should have policy that welcomes parents to visit the center or school without prior appointment.

September 26, 2005

How should you communicate your concerns to someone who may be behaving inappropriately with children? The “I” message is a simple way to reframe what you want to say so that the listener hears you speak of your feelings and concerns rather than hearing a complaint against themselves. The “I” message, simply diagrammed is: “I feel (feeling) when (situation) because (reason).” For example, you can say: “I feel anxious when you drive a child home alone after religious education classes because that could put you or the child in a potentially risky situation.” It is a much more constructive approach than saying: “You shouldn’t be driving children home alone because it is against the rules and puts them in danger.”

September 19, 2005

It is vitally important that we are constantly vigilant — that we always observe the behaviors of those who interact with children. And, we must always communicate our concerns to the appropriate parties. Sometimes, this means communicating our safety concerns to our children. And, sometimes, this means communicating our concerns about seemingly inappropriate behavior to those who are in a position to intervene. They must also listen carefully to their children, and observe both their children’s activities and the behavior of older children and adults who interact with children. When children exhibit dramatic behavioral changes, adults must find out what caused the changes. Being aware of what’s happening with our children means talking to, listening to, and observing them — at every opportunity.

September 12, 2005

Fall means back to school for children and back to work for those who have been on vacation. Amidst the hustle and bustle of this season, let us all keep sight of the importance of keeping our children and young people safe from danger. Safeguard the Children Committees have been established in parishes throughout the Los Angeles Archdiocese. These committees help ensure that all children and youth experience safe environments in all parish activities and events. For more information, call the parish office or the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.

September 6, 2005

To ensure the safety of all of our children, the Archdiocese requires all priests, teachers, and other parish employees, staff and volunteers who work with children to be fingerprinted. Fingerprints are run through a criminal database, and anyone with a prior history of child abuse or endangerment is permanently barred from church ministry. More than 6,500 Catholic school teachers and staff have been fingerprinted and cleared by authorities to work with children. An additional 7,000 parish and school employees and volunteers have been fingerprinted and cleared.

August 29, 2005

Did you know that every person working with children and youth in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is mandated to attend VIRTUS training? VIRTUS is designed to prevent child abuse by making adults aware of how sexual abuse is perpetrated by adults as well as by other children. In the last year alone, nearly 22,000 parents, priests, teachers, staff and volunteers in the Archdiocese have undergone training through the VIRTUS program. For more information, please contact your parish office or visit www.virtus.org.

August 22, 2005

Seminary formation involves much more than academic study. Prior to ordination, a candidate for priesthood goes through a lengthy evaluation period, including an internship during which he lives in a rectory and works with priests, staff and parishioners. During this time, the candidate is judged as to his suitability to be a priest. No one is ordained unless the staff of St. John’s Seminary, including the lay faculty and formation advisers, concludes that the candidate has attained an emotional, psychological and sexual maturity appropriate for his age and for the celibate life of a priest. For more information, please visit www.archdiocese.la and click on the “Vocations” tab.

August 15, 2005

When a young man approaches the Los Angeles Archdiocese with the desire to become a priest, he must first undergo a rigorous and thorough screening process before he can be considered as a candidate for entry into St. John’s Seminary. The process includes in-depth personal interviews, an assessment of the person’s potential suitability for a lifetime commitment to celibacy, and a series of psychological tests and interviews. For more information on the Archdiocese’s priestly formation program, please visit www.archdiocese.la and click on the “Vocations” tab.

August 8, 2005

The Internet has become the new schoolyard for child molesters seeking girls or boys to victimize.  Internet “chat rooms” provide a teenager an opportunity to engage in “live” conversation with friends from school or church, or with other teenagers from around the world.  A chat room is described as being similar to an old style telephone party line, except that the teens are typing.  Law enforcement has found that child molesters use chat rooms to gain easy and safe access to teens.  Because of the caring and the seductive talent of child molesters, teenagers should be warned that when they are in a chat room, they should never provide anyone with private information, personal information, and especially their specific physical location.

August 1, 2005

Did you know that to facilitate investigations into allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has provided prosecutors with the names of victims and every accused priest, the time periods of alleged abuse, records of the priest’s assignments and the priest’s current status and location?  In 2004, an independent audit measuring the Archdiocese’s compliance with the U.S. Bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” determined that the Archdiocese “complies with all applicable civil laws with respect to the reporting of allegations of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities,” and that, “the Archdiocese has established effective liaison with civil authorities, ensuring that an open dialogue regarding sexual abuse allegations will occur.”

July 25, 2005

The Archdiocese’s Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board monitors all Archdiocesan policies and procedures related to sexual abuse by clergy. The Board is comprised of 13 people, 11 of whom are lay persons. Among the Board’s members are a victim of sexual abuse by a priest, and a parent of a child abused by a priest. All cases of clergy sexual misconduct are presented to the Board. The Board receives a report of each allegation lodged against a priests or deacon, reviews all relevant information, and makes a written recommendation to the Archbishop.

July 18, 2005

Did you know that an independent audit released in February 2005 found the Los Angeles Archdiocese to be in full compliance with the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People?  The audit found that the Archdiocese ‘has not transferred any priest or deacon who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse made against him to another ministerial assignment…”  For more information on the audit results, please visit the website of our Archdiocesan newspaper, The Tidings:  www.the-tidings.com.

July 11, 2005

How many allegations of sexual abuse by priests have been made against the Los Angeles Archdiocese?  What has been done to help victims of abuse to heal and be reconciled with the Church?  What policies and procedures are in place to remove those who commit abuse and make the Church’s ministries safe for all of our children and young people?  Answers to these questions can be found in the “Report to the People of God:  Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 1930-2003.”  Released in February 2004, the Report details the history of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese and the efforts undertaken to eliminate this scourge.  The Report is posted on the Internet at www.archdiocese.la.

July 4, 2005

Did you know that all Catholic school personnel in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are screened for their ability to work safely with children, are provided information and training to help them recognize and deal with issues of child sexual abuse, and are offered guidance and instruction on appropriate professional conduct with students? Likewise, all seminarians and candidates for the diaconate go through extensive evaluation and psychological assessment before entering formation. After ordination, priests and deacons receive ongoing training on maintaining the integrity of the ministerial relationship.

June 20, 2005

“The Archdiocese recognizes that victims, their families, parishioners, the entire Catholic community, civil authorities and the community-at-large deserve a comprehensive report on the extent of clergy sexual abuse of minors. All are entitled to learn about the steps the Archdiocese has taken to implement stringent corrective and preventive policies and procedures. First and foremost, let it be said that anyone who is determined to have abused a minor will be removed swiftly, decisively and permanently from any parish or ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. This policy is not subject to change.” --From Report to the People of God: Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 1930-2003. To view the full Report, go to: www.archdiocese.la.

June 13, 2005

Did you know that outreach to victims of sexual abuse is one of the ministries in the Archdiocese? The Office of Assistance Ministry provides assistance towards healing by means of therapy, spiritual direction and mutual support groups. Sister Sheila McNiff, who has over 20 years of experience in outreach, clergy misconduct, assessment and counseling coordinates Assistance Ministry in the Archdiocese. If now, or at any time in the past, a priest, deacon, or other person representing the Church has sexually abused you, you are urged to contact Sister Sheila by calling the Office of Assistance Ministry, 800 355 2545

June 6, 2005

Child abuse is a frightening social reality. Numerous studies, which not in full agreement, estimate that, some 40% of girls and 30% of boys suffer some form of molestation by an adult during their childhood and youth. Protecting our children from sexual abuse is why the Los Angeles Archdiocese requires all clergy and laity whose work involves contact with children to undergo the VIRTUS child abuse prevention training program. More than 20,000 people have been trained in the program so far. For more information, call Joan Vienna, Coordinator of the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.

May 30, 2005

Did you know that an independent audit released in February found the Los Angeles Archdiocese to be in full compliance with the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People? The audit found that the Archdiocese “reported all allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to public authorities…[and] complies with all applicable civil laws with respect to the reporting of allegations of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities.” More information on the audit can be found on the webpage of our Archdiocesan newspaper, The Tidings: www.the-tidings.com.

May 23, 2005

Child Safety tip: Teach children to say, “Stop it,” to instructions that might encourage them to do things they really do not want to do. Reinforce the rule that children should say, “Stop it,” to requests or demands that make them uncomfortable, even if they think they should obey. A discussion of these rules can teach a child that there are some times when it is okay to say, “Stop it,” and other times when it is okay to go along with the instructions.

May 16, 2005

Child safety tip: You can help keep your children safe by knowing where they spend their time. Get to know the adults who show up at the various locations in the community where children gather and where they play together. Be wary of any adult who seems more interested in creating a relationship with a child than with other adults. Pay attention when an adult seems to single out a particular child for a relationship, or for special attention. Warning signs include treats, gifts, vacations, or other special favors offered only to one specific child.

May 9, 2005

Parents and guardians play a key role in the success of parish programs for young people. Parents and guardians who are involved in parish programs and events will be in the best position to protect their own children as well as all the children in the parish community. Involvement and communication are important factors in helping to ensure safe environments for all of our children.

May 2, 2005

The Archdiocese mandates that all people who work with children and youth in our parishes and schools must undergo child abuse prevention training through the VIRTUS program. The training details five steps to prevent child sexual abuse: 1. Know the warning signs of an inappropriate relationship with a child. 2. Control access to children by carefully selecting the adults who work with children and youth. 3. Monitor all programs for the safety of children and youth. 4. Be aware of and sensitive to what is going on in the lives of children. 5. Communicate concerns to the appropriate person in authority.

April 25, 2005

Parents and guardians have the primary responsibility for protecting their children from all potential harm. When choosing a nursery, daycare center or school, parents should inspect the building and grounds to make sure there are no areas where children play or work that are “off limits” to parents. Such facilities should have a policy that welcomes parents to visit the center or school without prior appointment.

April 18, 2005

More than 20,000 adults who work with children and youth have undergone child abuse prevention training through the VIRTUS program. The mandatory training helps adults to identify the types of inappropriate behavior which can lead to abuse. A key part of keeping our children safe means knowing how to prevent abuse. To learn more, please contact your parish office or call Joan Vienna, Coordinator of the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program, 213 637 7227.

April 11, 2005

Did you know that every person working with children and youth in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is mandated to attend VIRTUS training? VIRTUS is designed to prevent child abuse by making adults aware of how sexual abuse is perpetrated by adults as well as other children. More than 20,000 adults have gone through the VIRTUS training program in the Archdiocese. To find out about VIRTUS training sessions near you, please call the parish office or the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program Office, 213 637 7227.

March 28, 2005

April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is most appropriate that Child Abuse Prevention Month is held during the Easter season. There is no better time than Easter to celebrate the protection of our most valuable gift from God – our children. For information on how you can become more informed and involved in keeping our children safe, please call Joan Vienna, Coordinator of the Archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Program, 213 637 7227.