In the Anchorage Archdiocese, the Ministry of Safe Environment grew out of the Charter For the Protection of Children and Young People promulgated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002. Since that time, the archdiocese has joined dioceses across the country in promoting April as Child Abuse Awareness Month.
The U.S. bishops remind the faithful that Christ calls upon his followers to care for the most vulnerable, especially children. The Catholic Church also calls the faithful to uphold the value of human life and the dignity of the human person. The protection of children is the responsibility of the entire church.
During Child Abuse Prevention Month the faithful are reminded to be instruments of justice, working for the common good of all, which includes the protection of children. This responsibility belongs to everyone as a matter of charity and justice. Child Abuse Prevention Month should lead to heightened awareness of the need to be vigilant about providing a safe environment for all within the church and our wider communities.
Recent statistics suggest that one out of every four girls, and one out of every six boys are assaulted before they turn 18. If this is correct, there are people in the pews every Sunday who have been abused. Reaching out to these victims is critical in bringing them the love and hope of Christ.
The archdiocese is here to provide steps toward healing for anyone suffering from abuse. Here are some ways that local parishes and faith formation programs are helping.
- Circle of Grace curriculum teaches students about their God-given dignity, how to identify when someone fails to honor that dignity, and how to seek help.
- Information and resources are given to parents on the dynamics of abuse and how to talk to youth if they ask questions or ask for help.
- Training is provided for adults, volunteers, teachers, staff, religious and clergy on understanding abuse, how to respond, and the policies of the archdiocese.
- Victim’s Assistance Coordinator Heidi Carson can be called for support and advocacy at (907) 297-7786.
- We work with other professional agencies to assist victims of abuse.
- Some of our parishes and schools have advocacy and law enforcement agencies meet with youth and parents to discuss healthy relationships, internet safety and the use of social media.
- Parishioners join community organizations that work collaboratively to combat sexual assault and domestic violence.
The archdiocese continues to find ways to share the message of the dignity of all people. In the words of Saint Pope John Paul II we uphold “the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator.”