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Bishops launch survey of abuse victims.

The U.S. Catholic bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse and the National Review Board have launched a national study seeking victims' input on how the church can do a better job of preventing sexual abuse of minors and responding to victims. The study is the first phase of a new Response and Prevention Project.

The key to the study is a confidential online questionnaire, available at www.victim-outreach.com. It asks childhood victims of abuse at the hands of priests or other church personnel to describe the impact of the abuse on their lives and recommend responses that helped them--or that might have helped if they had been in place. It also asks them to identify hurtful actions and obstacles to healing that they have experienced.

To assure confidentiality, the questionnaire specifically instructs respondents, "Do not identify yourself, your abuser, a diocese, eparchy or religious community" by name. Only victims who are now 18 or older are asked to participate in the survey.

An introduction gives advice on what to do if someone has not reported his or her abuse to law enforcement or church authorities but wishes to do so.

The survey will be on the Web for five weeks, March 30-May 4.

Those who prefer to use a downloaded paper version are asked to mail the completed questionnaire no later than May 5 to: Mary A. Lentz, 100 North Main Street, Suite 310, Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44022.

Mary A. Lentz, an Ohio-based child abuse prevention specialist, developed the questionnaire and is operating the independent Web site. She will analyze the responses and will post the results of the survey on the Web site in June. Results will also be made available in printed form and on the bishops' national Web site, www.usccb.org.

To call attention to the survey locally, bishops across the country were sent sample church bulletin inserts and a sample letter they could use or adapt in order to invite abuse victims in their dioceses to participate in the study.
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Title Annotation:NATION
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 8, 2005
Words:338
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