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Sessions on preventing sexual abuse to begin

From November 2002:

Sexual abuse prevention training sessions for archdiocesan employees and volunteers will be available at parishes beginning in November, according to Tom Lemp, director of Catholic Family Counseling's School Partnership Program.

Lemp is coordinating the training program, "Protecting God's Children," in the archdiocese. The program, which comes from National Catholic Services LLC, provides information on preventing situations that can lead to abuse, spotting behavior that can indicate abuse and learning how to report abuse.

The three-hour program is mandatory for all archdiocesan employees and volunteers who work with children on a regular basis. There is no cost to parishes, schools and agencies.

To date, 35 local facilitators - including counselors, psychologists, social workers and educators - have been trained to bring the program to parishes, schools and agencies. The program itself includes two video presentations that incorporate stories by victims and their families, as well as comments from child abusers.

The program will be presented in approximately 250 sessions over the next 18 months at parishes, schools and agencies throughout the archdiocese. So far 55 parishes have called to schedule training sessions, said Lemp.

Sessions can be arranged by calling Catholic Family Counseling at (314) 792-7030 or 792-7031. Or send an e-mail message to .

"We are focusing a lot on our volunteers, who in the past have not been trained in this, as teachers and other employees have," said Lemp. "We want volunteers and employees to be able to spot problematic behavior, as well as know what kind of behavior to avoid."

In addition, Lemp said, online continuing education on preventing sexual abuse will be available for all managers, including pastors, priests, deacons, principals, directors of religious education, directors of athletic programs, agency managers and all other supervisors.

"Protecting God's Children" follows the directive of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this summer.

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