Safe Environment Program
Protecting God’s Children Session – register on-line with a parish in the diocese @ www.virtus.org
In their pastoral letter, Walk in the Light: A Pastoral Response to Child Sexual Abuse, the US Bishops stated,
“People tend to think that certain authority figures – such as parents, stepparents, teachers and clergy – are above reproach: that ‘pillars of the community’ could not abuse children. Abusive behavior often hides behind the masks of love and trust. While the true incidence of child sexual abuse remains unknown, it is nonetheless significant. We state firmly and clearly that any act of child sexual abuse is morally evil. It is never justified.”
As a community of faith, we believe that our children are the most important gifts God has entrusted to us and that the prevention of child abuse begins with each person. St. Mary – Delaware, Ohio, in coordination with the Catholic Diocese of Columbus, is committed to the protection and safety of all children. This commitment follows the fundamental mission of the Church to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, to give authentic witness to the moral teaching of the Scriptures and the tradition of the Church, and to uphold the human dignity of every person. Increased awareness and a willingness to take action are steps for every person to eradicate abuse in our society, in the community, in the neighborhood, and in the family.
Maximizing our Church’s role as a child-safe environment begins with making all adults more aware of the ways children and adults interact with each other and how to protect children. The Protecting God’s Children program for adults is a three to four hour awareness session that teaches adults of the Parish who interact with children that to protect children you must have continuous awareness and vigilance. This awareness session helps trainees understand the signs of child sexual abuse, the methods and means by which offenders commit abuse and five empowerment steps one can use to prevent child sexual abuse. The program also educates and trains clergy, religious, teachers, staff, volunteers, and parents about the dangers of abuse, the warning signs of abuse, the ways to prevent abuse, the methods of properly reporting suspicions of abuse, and responding to allegations of abuse.
By utilizing best practices for training and prevention, St. Mary Parish uses the Protecting God’s Children program to help make our parish safe for all people—especially children. Through this program, we optimize child safe environments and empowering our staff and volunteers with new tools to help them protect our children.