Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said June 19 a new video produced by the fraternal organization is aimed at equipping parents with resources and the tools they need to protect their children from predators.
The video, titled "Protecting Our Children: A Family's Response," is meant to complement other church initiatives to respond to the crisis. With much of that response a "top-down" approach, Anderson said, the Knights see a need for something more at the grassroots.
Anderson showed the video for the first time in St. Petersburg during the June 18-21 Catholic Media Conference.
In the 30-minute video, a Catholic mom and a dad who is a Knight talk about how they learned that a trusted family friend sexually abused their son when he was 10. They describe the signs their son showed of the trauma he was suffering and their shock when they found out their friend did this to their child.
They say they found out later some of the abuse took place in their own home, and they never knew it at the time. They explain that when the friend and his family came over for dinner, while Mom was in the kitchen preparing the meal and Dad was in another part of the house with their daughters, the friend, called "Frank" in the video, might sit on the couch and watch a movie with their son. They'd sit together under a throw to stay warm on a chilly evening, and that's when Frank would abuse the boy.
The couple talks about how they missed signs abuse was taking place and express regret they were not more aware of what to look for.
Interspersed with the couple recounting their story are commentary and practical tips for parents shared by Monica Applewhite, an expert in the field of abuse prevention and response. She also explains the tactics of predators and how they manage to manipulate their victims and those around them.
Applewhite, a clinical social worker, specializes in programs for churches and schools and has worked with several hundred organizations that serve children and youths.
"The problem of the sexual abuse of minors needs to be addressed on a number of levels, but we want to focus our attention on protecting families, which is a founding principle of the Knights of Columbus," Anderson said in a statement announcing the video. "The family in this video showed great courage by sharing their experience to help others."
In St. Petersburg, he said the Knights plan to make the video available to their councils, which would provide it to parishes to share with families. "Hopefully, it will snowball" and reach more and more people over time, he added.
Anderson called the video "a critical resource for families seeking to keep their children the safe." Its development is based in the Knights' "Building the Domestic Church" program, encouraging the development of faith-filled families.
"Hearing the experience of a mother, father and their son is eye-opening and will help parents and guardians take the necessary steps to protect their children," he added.
The Knights plan to create a family resource guide to accompany the video and expect to completely roll out the package during the Knights' convention in August. The organization said it will offer the video to dioceses, Catholic schools and their employees and volunteers for free on its website, www.kofc.org.