Teresa Pitt Green, Co-Founder
Child protection efforts are needed everywhere it seems. In just the past year, the sexual abuse of children and minors has continued unabated in places other than the Catholic Church—the film industry, high-stakes sports, schools, day cares and even children’s foundations.
After two years volunteering for the regional task force on human trafficking for labor and commercial sex, I’ve become even more aware how there is a surge in using children and minors as property, as not humans imbued with dignity by God. As slaves, not free persons.
It’s a mix of strange and assuring that I take comfort in Church programs now. As a survivor of sexual and emotional child abuse by priests who were once protected by the Church, I still appreciate the rigorous programs developed since the 2002 Dallas conference and its Charter and Essential Norms. Operationally, it’s a huge turn for a huge organization. Morally, it is the right direction. Is implementation perfect? No. But, look around you in the world today. Kids are a lot safer within the Catholic Church’s care than anywhere else I see.
What I marvel at in the Church programs, hammered out over the years since Dallas, is how markedly different they are than most introductory videos or programs. They are not only age sensitive, but options also strive to be flexible for regional or dispositional variations. They focus on building up each child or teen’s sense of full dignity – and trust in their own instincts about people, even adults with authority. If I had heard such a message when I was in school, my own little life then would have progressed very differently.
The upside of that bittersweet fact is that, now, children in the care of the Church are safe to flourish in an aware and vigilant setting of adults who have been carefully vetted. That’s good.
Teresa, Co-Founder of The Healing Voices Magazine, recently co-launched Spirit Fire Ministries and now promotes trauma-informed ministries through writing, speaking, workshops and mediated dialogue. For more, go here. This article first appeared in March 2018 as part of The Healing Voices Magazine third annual Special Edition on Child Abuse Prevention. The second Special Edition on Child Abuse Prevention is here. The first Special Edition on Child Abuse Prevention is here.