Madison, MS (WLBT) - More than 500 Catholic educators and administrators across the state are being educated on new ways to recognize and prevent child abuse. This comes just days after allegations surfaced that a child may have been abused by a priest at a Jackson Catholic school.
“Adults have to speak up for kids. We can’t just say kids are going to protect themselves or make an outcry that is not realistic. We have to be the ones to be uncomfortable.”
On Monday, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson organized a professional development day at St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison.
Monica Applewhite led the development day, which the school says it holds annually.
“Study shows that all the damage that’s done, if there’s a male perpetrator, is equal if there’s a female perpetrator,” said Applewhite.
Applewhite leads workshops across the country that are geared toward recognizing and respond properly to incidents of child abuse.
“Some of those most important things look out for: people who want to separate a child who care about that child, people who want to be more possessive, and people who try to get the child to do some things that are against the rules, so the child will have their own secrets with in a relationship,” said Applewhite.
Recently, Three on Your Side reported a lawsuit that was filed claiming a nine-year-old boy was sexually abused by a Mississippi Catholic priest during a service at St. Richard. Court documents claim the abuse happened in 2004.
While the lawsuit claims the Diocese didn’t investigate this or hand any information over to authorities, the Diocese denies that and said it did investigate.
The Diocese says it is committed to ensuring that children are not at risk of abuse.
“To be honest, in 2018-2019, we have learned an awful lot in research and in our cases about sexual abuse," said Applewhite. “I think we have an obligation in the Catholic Church and outside the Catholic Church to use every bit of information to prevent any of that from happening in the future.”