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ARCHDIOCESE OF CHICAGO OBSERVES NATIONAL CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH
Children Matter Network Website Provides Liturgy Link and Resources

Chicago, IL (April 6, 2009) – The Archdiocese of Chicago and the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth have joined with other organizations concerned with child welfare, in observing April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth’s stated mission is to protect the dignity of children and assist those who have been affected by abuse.

The Children Matter Network website, www.childrenmatternetwork.org, is currently focused on materials and resources for parishes and schools to use in pastoral, parental or educational ministries with children during Child Abuse Prevention Month. A Liturgy Link has been placed on this website with the intention that prayers for those who are victims of child abuse, as well as those who are at risk, be included in masses, prayer services and personal reflections.

Other materials for use in connection with the April Prevent Child Abuse Campaign are provided on the Children Matter Network website through a link to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website at www.usccb.org/ocyp.

The Archdiocese of Chicago is also partnering with Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, a chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America. Prevent Child Abuse Illinois’ mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect across the state, while working to protect children and strengthen families through public awareness, education, advocacy and community assistance. The Children Matter Network website provides a direct link for schools and parishes to the Prevent Child Abuse Illinois’ Child Abuse Prevention Month Community Packet with materials including Facts About Child Abuse, Warning Signs of Abuse, What to Do in Your Community, Community Prevention Campaigns, What to Do if You See Child Abuse in a Public Place, information about the Blue Ribbon symbol of Prevent Child Abuse Awareness.

The Archdiocese has been proactive in establishing policies and procedures to address child sexual abuse by church personnel since 1992. Since establishing the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth in 2003, over 75,000 lay employees, volunteers who work with children and clergy have attended Virtus/Protecting God's Children training and completed a background check. Additionally, 220,000 young people have participated in safe environment education programs in Catholic schools and religious education classes.

Three agencies operate out of the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth: the Safe Environment Office provides ongoing training for children and adults on prevention and reporting of abuse, and checks the backgrounds of all clergy and staff and all volunteers who work with children; the Office for Assistance Ministry provides outreach to victims of clerical sexual abuse; the Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review receives and reviews allegations of sexual abuse of children by clergy, employees or volunteers of the Archdiocese of Chicago. For information about the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth visit www.archchicago.org.

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