Archdiocese Launches Child-Abuse Education Programs

CINCINNATI–The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati is starting child-abuse education programs for students, parents and teachers at its schools.

The archdiocese will pay the National Council on Child Abuse $50,000 over three years to develop the programs, according to The Associated Press. The programs will teach students to report abuse and help teachers recognize warning signs, church officials said.

“We think we can take a bad situation and do something positive with it,” said Eve Pearl, the council’s executive director. “We can use this as an opportunity to teach children how they can be safe.”

The program includes a parents’ workshop, three hours of teacher training, a half-hour discussion for elementary students and longer programs for older students.

“These programs are the cheapest, quickest, simplest step a diocese can take,” said David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests. “It’s sad that it takes a crisis of this magnitude in order to prod church officials to do such a simple, non-controversial program.”

Church officials said the program is not specifically designed to target abuse by clergy. The archdiocese has offered educational programs since at least 1993, when church officials approved their first Child Protection Decree.

“Prevention and education is part of the decree,” said Patricia Armstrong, the archdiocese’s assistant superintendent. “We were looking for ways to improve that.”

There are nearly 500,000 Catholics in the archdiocese, which includes 19 southwest Ohio counties. In 2001, 56,000 students were enrolled in the archdiocese’s 112 elementary and 22 high schools.

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