I begin this message with a wish for continued safety and good health. In these incredible times we are obligated to focus on this immediate crisis. But with God’s help we will slowly resume some sense of normalcy.

Child abuse prevention month, an annual event in April, has understandably been eclipsed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the emphasis has been diminished, the significance remains of the utmost importance. According to the 2018 Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Annual Report, there were more than 44,000 reports of abuse and more than 5,000 of those were designated as substantiated abuse cases. The category with the highest number of substantiated cases remains sexual abuse, a sad commentary on the status of our society. Each of those numbers represents a child experiencing unimaginable trauma.

We must all do our part to prevent the continued abuse of children. Training is critical. Although public gatherings are not possible at this time, you can complete both VIRTUS and mandated reporter trainings online. To access VIRTUS online, please go to the website and register at virtusonline.org. Once you create an account, select the online module. The University of Pittsburgh offers mandated reporter training online at reportabusepa.pitt.edu.

There is no question that we pray for the conclusion of this pandemic. But once we’ve resumed our former routines, let us not proceed with complacency. We must move into the future with renewed purpose and appreciation of life. By joining the fight against child abuse, we affirm the value of those who are most vulnerable. Will you enlist in the battle to protect children?

By Kathleen Bolinski
Safe Environment Coordinator