Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Lenten Mercy-Meditation: Joseph's Month of March and Failing Our Children


Murillo ~ Saint Joseph and the Christ Child

The Carmelite nuns of Terre Haute, Indianna recently sent an invitation to share in the novena they pray every year in anticipation of the March 19th Feast of Saint Joseph. Beneath the icon on the front of the card was printed, Saint Joseph ~ Mentor of the Merciful One. I've heard Joseph called Guardian, Protector and Guide, but Mentor is an especially active word and beautiful. Then I came across these statistics reporting on the sex abuse of young people in our own country and thought, how deeply we fail our children. 

  • The average age for first abuse is 9.9 years for boys and 9.6 years for girls.
  • Children with disabilities are 4 to 10 times more vulnerable to sexual abuse than their non-disabled peers.
  • 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. Boys are probably higher, but less likely to report.
  • Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized
  • 62,939 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in 2012. (Approximately 30% are  reported to the authorities so the actual number of abused children is much higher.)
  • Approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the U.S. have been the victims of sexual assault.
  • 93% know their abuser. 34.2 % of attackers were family members and 58.7% were acquaintances. Only 7% were strangers to the victims.
  • Nearly 50% of all the victims of forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling are children under the age of 12.
  • There are 60 million survivors of child sex abuse in the U.S. today.

A Catholic can't claim to love Saint Joseph and not have the care and protection of children right up front in his or her list of priorities. It is sometimes said of Catholics that we admire the saints more than copy them. Joseph has the young Jesus by the hand in this Murilo painting. For Lent, let's find an active way to take care of children, if even from a distance.


Sources:
RAINN: Rape Abuse and Incest National Network
Parents for Megan's Law/The Crime Victim's Center
The U.S. Department of Justice NSOPW (National Sex Offender Public Website)

19 comments:

  1. It is so discouraging that such abuse happens to children. Innocent victims without a voice.

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  2. This post is so difficult to read. The thought of so many children suffering abuse and in their own "family". Its a question, I ask God often, "why"? But, I also think of "all" the sick people out there doing these things. The devil is really ugly. The children need so much prayer. Teachers should take a course on this and how to be more aware and with police advising. Their is so much team work needed to enforce this protection of children. Jesus Mercy!

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    1. Teachers are required to complete courses which teach about child abuse recognition and mandated reporting. Sexual abuse does not present with outward physical signs and is difficult to recognize, even to the trained eye. As a teacher and one of the 60 million survivors, I don't think I could be more aware if I tried, yet as good as these predators are at grooming their victims, the victims are equally as good at remaining silent. We have to educate children at a young age and empower them to advocate for themselves.

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  3. Melanie VerrelliMarch 9, 2016 at 8:03 AM

    I pray for St. Joseph to intercede for these children who have their lives ruined by sex abuse. It is a sick world that we live in, when nine year old children are preyed upon by adults that should love them and protect them. How do you ever learn to trust anyone?

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  4. How does this keep happening to children? Thsee terrible numbers blow my mind away. To think that kids are living a tortured life in silence is just so sad. We can't rely only on prayers, there has to be other ways to help. It could be anyone's child

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  5. All these statistics are scary, but the last number is staggering. That would be almost one in five people in the United States. If I sit in Church with 200 people, it means that about 40 of them would have suffered sexual abuse of some kind. I looked up the statistic and it is correct, but I find it impossible to believe.

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  6. I read this post earlier today and have decided to write after some thought. Yes, we fail our children. Yes, these people who abuse children are people who the children already know and trust. Yes, there are 60 million survivors in our country. And there are more who don't survive. Those who commit suicide and die of drug overdoses because they could not live with the pain. Yet another way that we fail our children. By not talking to them and helping them to heal. Thank your for raising awareness.

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  7. This is a difficult topic to think about. I am having a hard time with it. We worry about so many things in the world, and all the things that can go wrong with our families, but I never think that someone I know would purposely hurt my child. It is very eye opening. I hope that our prayers to St. Joseph will at the very least give some child the strength to come forward. If more was said, maybe it would happen less.

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  8. If more was said. How can more be said ? The increase of sexual a use is staggering. Yet we are shamed if we make a connection with the increase of abortions and now gay marriage. Are we going to continue to deny these connections? Deny the fact that sexual abuse is on the rise so as other disordered life styles. Before you shut me down consider it, we don't want to focus on our Puritan thought process but facts and statistics don't lie. Or do they?

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    1. Pardon me, but the the statistics here have nothing to do with abortion or gay marriage. I believe that Father Stephen is telling us that we should do more to protect children against these heinous acts committed against them, before they are able to even voice their opposition. It is our job as adults to protect our children and to be aware and always on the lookout. And I must add, people who are in same sex marriages are not living disordered lives. Nor are people who have abortions. We all have our own stories and should not be the judge and jury. Only God can decide if we have pleased him or not.

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  9. Sex abuse is not about sex and lifestyle. Sex abuse is about power.

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  10. it is an overall degradation of the sanctity of life. We are in the trouble we are in because of our lack of repentance. What one man does is his sin and we repent. What it does or at the very least contributes to society as a whole is a need for national repentance. We don't want to go there or admit it. As it was stated we can't even identify sin anymore. We can't admit when we miss the mark. It's too painful. I know we don't have to agree but I hope we can continue to share and explain our differences.

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  11. "As it was stated we can't even identify sin anymore." War profiteering, gun worship, that millions of American children live in poverty, capital punishment, racism in our country, the despoiling of our water and air, corporate lies and greed. I fear many Christians are loathe to identify this is sin - we seem only to be able to identify sex sins. Mr. Trump patched it up with Ben Carson yesterday. Odd bedfellows after their trading vile insults when Mr. Caron was in the running. To that, Mr. Trump said, "This is politics. In politics things are done that aren't done anywhere else." Any sin there? But let's be careful not to take our eyes off these national sex abuse stats - and let our prayer land there for a good long while. We're not talking about this serious, national life problem nearly enough - like the little monkey with his hands over his ears and eyes.

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  12. It surely is not simple. But I do believe whatever mark we have missed we, as a nation, have broken covenant with the Creator. As in a small family unit there are consequences to our actions and reactions.

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  13. The Original Sin is power: "Eat this fruit; you'll be like God." Not gluttony. Not lust. Not disobedience. Power: the sin that's played out just about everywhere and where we often dare not look because it might require of us a very deep surrendering we're not prepared to make.

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  14. Yes. It's like what comes first the chicken or the egg. For lack of a better word, the 'lesser' sins or the not so powerful sins are the manifestations of the original. Each used cause one feels powerless or needs to feel powerful.

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  15. There is Original Sin and we pay an awful lot of attention to that - but there is also Original Goodness. Maybe we should stress that more - encouraging people and supporting them in the goodness that's already inside them.

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  16. I applaud you for showing concern and bringing sex abuse statistics out to the people who read your blog. Too many priests are afraid to mention it. It is probably not a lack of concern, but rather a fear of conjuring bad connotations. But for most of us, our children are the main focus of our lives and education is the first line of defense.

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  17. Some people are called "low information voters" but the voting booth isn't the only place where there's low information. For all the media available to us, many people remain "low information."

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