April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. As Catholics, we believe in protecting the life and dignity of every human person, and have an obligation to defend those who cannot defend themselves.
This month, the Office of Safe Environment for the diocese encourages you to learn how to recognize and report suspected abuse in your area, and to dedicate a rosary every Friday to the defense of the vulnerable and the healing of victims and survivors.
Our Effort to Protect
The Diocese of Sioux Falls requires all adult employees and volunteers who interact with minors at our parishes or Catholic schools to complete an annual Safe Environment Program that includes an abuse awareness video and criminal background check. Students enrolled at our schools and religious education programs also complete an age-appropriate program to educate them about abuse and empower them to report.
These programs are implemented on site by local coordinators. Thanks to them, approximately 3,500 adult employees and volunteers, and 13,543 youth learned how to recognize, prevent, and report abuse during the 2016-17 academic year.
How to Report Abuse
In South Dakota, all counties have reported cases of child sexual abuse, and according to South Dakota’s Jolene’s Law Task Force, at least 4,000 children every year experience sexual abuse from offenders who are known by and/or related to the child.
If you know or have reason to believe someone has been physically or emotionally abused, neglected, sexually abused, and/or exploited, call your local law enforcement, local department of social services office, county state’s attorney office, or 911.
For more information about the Diocese of Sioux Falls Safe Environment Program, and resources to help you learn more about abuse, go to www.sfcatholic.org/safe-environment.