Archdiocese participates in child abuse prevention efforts

April 1, 2019 (Omaha, Neb.) – The Archdiocese of Omaha is joining communities across the U.S. in celebrating National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

During the month of April communities are encouraged to increase awareness and provide education and support to families through resources and strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect.

The archdiocese is using the month to showcase its home-grown and nationally recognized Circle of Grace safe environment and child protection training program.

Circle of Grace is used by archdiocese parishes and schools. Additionally, Circle of Grace is the primary safe environment training program for over 40 U.S. Catholic dioceses and 600 Protestant churches and schools.

“We take responsibility for the safety of all children in our schools and programs,” said Deacon Tim McNeil, archdiocesan spokesperson. “Abuse can happen anywhere. It’s a societal problem. We’re prepared to protect all children. We’ve been proving our commitment to keeping children safe for years.”

Circle of Grace was created in 2005 by Omaha-area child care experts, clergy, licensed mental health professionals, educators and law enforcement officials. The training program teaches children to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries; recognize when boundary violations are about to occur; and demonstrate how to take action when boundaries are threatened or violated.

A companion training program, Circle of Care, expands training to adults, who learn the signs of abuse, and what to do when they suspect abuse. Anyone working or volunteering with their parish or school who is in contact with minors must be safe environment certified through Circle of Care, which includes a criminal background check.

Over 40,000 adults and children in the archdiocese have received safe environment training.

The archdiocese’s child abuse public awareness effort is titled “Word of Honor.” The campaign honors the archdiocese’s commitment to leading the way in creating a culture of safety, transparency and trust.

Archdiocese churches will display Word of Honor brochures April 6-7. That same weekend, safe environment parish coordinators will introduce themselves at every Mass and explain their important role. Special prayers for the protection of minors are scheduled during the month. And a special Word of Honor website launched March 31.

The archdiocese is also participating in the National Prevent Child Abuse America pinwheel promotion. The pinwheels are part of a larger, nation-wide child abuse prevention campaign. McNeil said pinwheels and yard signs will be placed at the Chancery on 62nd and Dodge, and the archdiocese’s pastoral center at 60th and Northwest Radial Highway.

# # #