Need facts on VIRTUS


#1

Our bishop has ordered the diocese to be in this program and includes a class section on “safe touching” or what not. I fully inted to obey, but I also know that parents can opt out of this. What I need is to get parents FACTUAL information on this program. I know VIRTUS is controversial among some, so I want to get at the heart of the controversy and am asking for info from reputable sources (not paranoid stuff).

Thanks,

Scott


#2

Here is a link to their web site. From the looks of this page, the entire program is available on line, but you’ll probably have to pay for it. It may be money well spent to be able to see the entire program before it gets dumped on you.

virtusonline.org/virtus/


#3

[quote=geezerbob]Here is a link to their web site. From the looks of this page, the entire program is available on line, but you’ll probably have to pay for it. It may be money well spent to be able to see the entire program before it gets dumped on you.

virtusonline.org/virtus/

[/quote]

I’m sorry, I think I was unclear. This program is already active here and all are teachers have been through the initial training. What I was looking for is substantiation from reliable sources for the rumors I am hearing that this program was designed by people from Planned Parenthood, whitewashing homosexuals’ contribution to the sex scandals, etc. Something I can point parent’s toward. Since it might ruffle some feathers, I need something air-tight.


#4

I can point you in a direction and then share with you what our DRE said. Google Fr. Altier and Theresa Kettelkamp. You might have to do some digging. Here are some other links but note that I have not looked through them thoroughly only browsed thru them:

·[font=Courier New] [/font]Suffer the Children: The Disaster of ‘Talking About Touching’ by Mary Jo Anderson, Crisis Magazine, 4/1/04
·[font=Courier New] [/font]Talking about Touching by Domenico Bettinelli, Jr., Catholic Culture, 6/03
·[font=Courier New] [/font]An alternative to ‘Talking About Touching’, Catholic Parents Online
·[font=Courier New] [/font]New DVD Challenges Parents To Oppose “Child-Safety” Program, The Wanderer, 1/16/06

Our DRE said that the CCD classes at our parish were not required to present the program due to most of the DRE’s in the vicariate protesting. The DRE’s were open to instituting a program that dealt with the parent’s but not directly with the children. She went on to say that when the talk of how much it would cost each parish to purchase the program a flag went up as to where this money is going. In our diocese the catholic schools will institute this program and they did not require the CCD classes to do it…we homeschool this year so not sure how all of that is being implemented in our parish school.
As stated, I have not made a thorough read thru material for and against the program so I will remain silent on it for the moment. But I have to mention that when I first heard of this program being implemented, my thought went directly to the CCC [2225] where parents are the first heralds for thier children. and 2226] goes on to say that the parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of liturgical life for the family. I felt that boundaries were being crossed. I believe in protecting our children and arming them with the tools they may need in life. But as their “first herald” it is my job to give them those tools.
I hope the above links help you in your search for the concrete things you need. I will try to do some more digging and will post more if I find anything significant. In the meantime, offer it up to our Lord who will certainly hear the cries of a parent trying to protect his wee ones.
Peace be with you.


#5

catholicparents.org/CPOarticleTMHS.html

catholicparents.org/CPOarticleTMHS.html

Just google “what’s wrong with Virtus” and you’ll get an eyeful.


#6

[quote=Scott Waddell]Our bishop has ordered the diocese to be in this program and includes a class section on “safe touching” or what not. I fully inted to obey, but I also know that parents can opt out of this. What I need is to get parents FACTUAL information on this program. I know VIRTUS is controversial among some, so I want to get at the heart of the controversy and am asking for info from reputable sources (not paranoid stuff).

Thanks,

Scott
[/quote]


your parish is required to offer you a chance to preview the video and lesson plans, and to preview, and provide a copy if you request it, of the complete parent guide. These materials are available to each parish that subscribes to the program in both English and Spanish. Your diocese should also have the preveiw materials on their website. they are also required to give you written notification of the date for your child’s classes with an opt-out letter. they are not required to deliver these by US mail, but may distribute by sending the letters home or through the parish bulletin.

If your parish does not make these materials available to you call the chancery find out who is in charge of implementing VIRTUS-Protecting God’s Children, and complain. If you did not get the memo because you don’t read the bulletin or your child missed CCD that day, please take steps to become better informed and more involved in your child’s religious education. to me any parent who allows their child to participate in such a program through CCD, Catholic School, or Public School (where they have been implemented lo these many years, to the dismay of many parents who are utterly clueless) without a preview are falling down on the job.

In our parish these classes will be presented as we have no choice but to comply, but they will be presented in context of the appropriate catechetical lesson for each grade level. To me it makes no sense to present the abnormal and bad until you first present the normal and good.
i.e. primary - God made us, He made our bodies, He made us special, good and bad choices, preparation for confession
middle grades - commandments particularly 6th & 9th, beatitudes esp. purity of heart
junior high - Love & Life guide to Christian Sexual Morality
High school - our Moral Life in Christ, segment on marriage and sexuality.


#7

virtus.org/virtus/

link to the VIRTUS - Protecting God’s Children - Touching Safety site, this month’s article, monitoring programs your child will be exposed to.


#8

I was involved in a youth retreat and so was required to go to Virtus training. It was pretty harmless, I felt. Just common sense stuff as far as how to spot a possible child molester and how to stay alert of certain signs pointing to trouble. It’s been a couple of years and I don’t really remember anything objectionable.


#9

[quote=theresa]I was involved in a youth retreat and so was required to go to Virtus training. It was pretty harmless, I felt. Just common sense stuff as far as how to spot a possible child molester and how to stay alert of certain signs pointing to trouble. It’s been a couple of years and I don’t really remember anything objectionable.
[/quote]

All adults wroking with children in our diocese are required to take VIRTUS, no exceptions, even for those who have taken other reputable training, such as Boy Scouts.

But it sounds as if some of you are talking about a program for the children. I haven’t heard anything about this.

The VIRTUS training I took was a joke and a waste of a Saturday. T


#10

[quote=DVina]All adults wroking with children in our diocese are required to take VIRTUS, no exceptions, even for those who have taken other reputable training, such as Boy Scouts.

But it sounds as if some of you are talking about a program for the children. I haven’t heard anything about this.

The VIRTUS training I took was a joke and a waste of a Saturday. T
[/quote]

DVina, in what way was it a “joke”? I took the VIRTUS training and I wouldn’t consider it a joke or a waste of a Saturday. Why did you?


#11

[quote=Journeyman]DVina, in what way was it a “joke”? I took the VIRTUS training and I wouldn’t consider it a joke or a waste of a Saturday. Why did you?
[/quote]

Maybe it has changed; I took it the very first year. It was all simple common sense, and the videos used were not very well done. Maybe they would have been better with a facilitator with some expertise; ours was the church secretary. I just felt like there was nothing very informative in the session.

And I also think they should have gone over and explained all the new rules that were put into place, such as you must always have two adults for every certain number of kids & no one under 18 is allowed to work with kids (this really messed up some aspects of Confirmation programs!). I hear people complaining about some of these, and they are all working with kids. They should be better informed.


#12

[quote=DVina]And I also think they should have gone over and explained all the new rules that were put into place, such as you must always have two adults for every certain number of kids & no one under 18 is allowed to work with kids (this really messed up some aspects of Confirmation programs!). I hear people complaining about some of these, and they are all working with kids. They should be better informed.
[/quote]

the presentation is supposed to be done by a facilitator trained by the diocesese, and is supposed to last 3 hours, half the time is the two videos, half the time is the discussion, and presentation of the rules you are talking about. sounds like you got short-changed.


#13

Yes… this thread has been a year, but I would like to say I attended VIRTUS today and have my own opinions. I don’t exactly see teh point of it at all. It was 50% discussion of what you should do as a parent to protect yoru kids. We got to watch 2 child preditors obviously making their statements to get a more lienent sentence ramble on about their tactics to prey on young ones. I actually became pretty angry just watching one of them go on for quite some time…bragging with a smile of being santa at a mall and what he did to little girls and listing his acomplishments… grrr
I don’t understand why they are doing it like this at all.
They didnt emphasise what we could do to make our diocese and Catholic places a safer place, but instead went in 20 other directions…not including the political ranting at the end.

Waste of 3 hours! Could have watched an episode of Americas Most Wanted or 2 and learned more.

I’m single and don’t have my own kids, mabye thats my problem, but I had an idea that this was in place for an entirely different purpose.

Anyways as a small time evangelist/singer that traveled many protestant churches (I played in his band) once told me after I started asking why so many contradictions. Eat the meat and spit out the bones.


#14

I’ve only recently become aware of this program; it seems people attending the Protecting God’s Children are not being given all the information, or info is not correct or pertinent to the scandal problem.

Fr. Altier tried to bring this out, but is being censored. He obeyed his bishop and stopped appearing on Relevant Radio (at Archbishop Flynn’s request).

Here is the homily that got him in trouble:
crcoa.com/petitions/fatherRobertAltier/

There is a link at this page where you can read the homily.

Other homilies are available, but they are in dss audio format.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle…
Mimi


#15

Just a few thoughts . . .

I am required to maintain VIRTUS status, and I have never found it offensive. Yes, it is pretty much a common sense approach, and maybe the sex offenders who talk about their experience did so to get a more lenient sentence. Still, the Church has to start somewhere, and you’d be surprised how many parents and others in authority do NOT display the level of common sense advice that VIRTUS puts out. So I look at it as at least providing a public awareness tool.

As for Fr. Altiers, I read part of his homily, but admit to getting lost in the details of all his stats. One thing that did jump out at me, though, is that he very early on in the homily claimed that VIRTUS perpetuates the myth of homosexuals being more likely to abuse than heterosexuals. In fact, I doublechecked to make sure my memory was correct, and VIRTUS does NOT perpetuate this myth at all - they claim the opposite. So, if Fr. Altiers made at least one glaring error by misrepresenting VIRTUS’ position in this area, then I’m sorry, but I have already lost interest in his rant.

Just my humble opinion . . .
Peace!


#16

I wasn’t expecting this thread to be revived. I remember the training and while I don’t think there was a deliberate attempt to give homosexuals a free-skate, what they presented rang a false note. That is, that while the majority of offenders may not have been homosexual (ignoring the the ebophile thing for the time being), but from what they were presenting I got the clear impression that their abuses were in frequency disproportionate to their numbers. So while I would not characterize the VIRTUS program as a complete waste of a Saturday, I would recommend people keep a sharp eye on the numbers and challenge the conclusions from them if they don’t add up.


#17

the person in your parish or diocese who is responsible for administering VIRTUS, should have these materials available for any parishioner to review. VIRTUS is a company which administers a child safetly program adopted by the majority of American dioceses. It has several parts: an ethical conduct orientation for diocesan and parish employees, one for volunteers, these both come under the Protecting God’s Children program. There is also a version of this for parents, essentially the first of the two videos, with some facts for them on how to report suspected abuse, and details of diocesan efforts in this area. The videos and the booklet and handouts which accompany the presentation are supposed to be available in the parish for any parishioner to review, but to be certified employees and volunteers must attend the entire 3 hour orientation and sign a code of ethical conduct.

The third arm is Touching Safety, for K-12. This consists of a 6 minute video (one each for primary, secondary, middle school, and HS), followed by a roughly 1-hour class. There are 6 classes, each is introduced by the same video segment, 2 are given each year, so the entire program is presented over 3 years.

the topics and presentations are geared toward these age levels. The first two dealt with how to say NO, and that we have private areas of our bodies that no one may touch without our permission, what are private areas (the part covered by a bathing suit, a doll or teddy bear with a bathing suit is used to illustrate this to younger children. no body parts are named or illustrated graphically). Only a safe adult has the right to help us clean these areas or keep us healthy. Who is a safe adult? What should we do if any adult or other child makes us feel unsafe or “yucky?” (Tell a safe adult). for older children, setting boundaries, saying NO, resisting peer pressure etc.

Quite frankly the content of touching Safety is much less graphic than Talking about Touching (not part of Virtus, another program altogether), and much tamer than what children in my area and in my grandchildren’s school district get in public school.

The video, lesson plans, worksheets, and a complete parent handbook in both English and Spanish is supposed to be available in the parish office for parents to review at their convenience. In the 2 years since our diocese introduced TS we have presented 3 modules, 3 parents have opted out, and only one has asked to view the materials. The presentations are publicized through CCD, with a letter sent home with every child including an opt-out form, in the bulletin and on the website.

I have to report the dates the presentations were given, dates review presentation was offered to parents, number of children who participated in each presentation, and number who opted out, as part of my statistical reporting to the diocese on our CCD program every year. I take a training each year, with my chosen facilitators, on the TS presentations for that year.

It is up to me the DRE to decide in consultation with the pastor exactly how these presentations are done, but there is no leeway for opting out completely. We do it in context of CCD lessons on related topics, not ad hoc. For JR High it is part of a 5 week “Love and Life” lesson plan using a package from Ignatius press (in which parents participate with students, who are separated by gender for these lessons). For HS it is part of teaching on commandments and Christian moral life. Same for younger grades, in context of teaching 6th & 9th commandments, or for primary grades, the “good choices, God made us special” type of lessons.

My gripe with the program, besides the content and tone of this and similar “child safety training” programs, which in my view make this entire problem the fault of the victim, is that there is no prep for the catechist, who is expected to present a canned lesson on a disconcerting and uncomfortable topic, with nothing more than a handout and canned worksheet. Unless I add another layer of prep to their already heavy load of catechist meetings and trainings, I or a trained facilitator has to do it.

I have huge beefs with the entire child safety Virtus issue, and how it has become a sop to the insurers and risk managers, and has managed to duck completely the real causes of child abuse within the Church, but that will be saved for another rant thread.


#18

Thanks. I should point out that I’ve been through the program and the Touching safety thing etc. This thread was a year old and I just noticed that recently somone added input and I was just reporting my experience. Some people opted out, so it was not very controversial. The teens’ response to the video was “we heard it all before”.


#19

I do not see what the problem is for the parish that refused to take this class. I think everyone that works with children in a parish or have access to children like ushers should be required to take this program.


#20

I do not see what the problem is for the parish that refused to take this class. I think everyone that works with children in a parish or have access to children like ushers should be required to take this program.


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