Talk about Touching and the Harrisburg Program

HI,

My Archdiocese has chosen the Talk about Touching program to roll out to our children. I find it greatly distasteful. I understand the the parents in Boston where this was madated are up in arms over this program and many public schools have thrown it out becuase is it far to explicit for our children.

I know there is a program out of the Harrisburg Diocese. Can anyone tell me more about it - How has it worked? Do you like it? Is is respectful of our children’s innocence?

What’s the “talk about touching” program and what’s so bad about it?

[quote=pira114]What’s the “talk about touching” program and what’s so bad about it?
[/quote]

catholicparents.org/Virtus.html

I’m not sure about “talk about touching” but I know VIRTUS recommends teaching kids explicit words for their genentalia by 18 months.

[quote=Jennifer123]catholicparents.org/Virtus.html

I’m not sure about “talk about touching” but I know VIRTUS recommends teaching kids explicit words for their genentalia by 18 months.
[/quote]

I’ve gone through the VIRTUS training. I think it is a fine program.

As far as teaching kids “explicit” words, it is the proper name. It’s not all cutesy and flowery. It is the proper name for the part.

I do not see anything wrong with that. After all, we teach them the proper name for their ears, eyes, and toes. Why not the other parts?

Re: “Talking about Touching”:

So at issue here is an organization which is part of the cultural movement to give our children a “healthy” outlook on sexuality, free from all puritan hang-ups and Catholic guilt which they believe has plagued parents and grandparents for generations.
. . .
In other words, those who adopt this program need to understand that they are running roughshod over the convictions of very, very many parents whose children will be exposed to this program without their prior knowledge or consent.

Source: girlsandboystown.org/news/releases/TalkingAbout.asp

[quote=Catholic90]I’ve gone through the VIRTUS training. I think it is a fine program.

As far as teaching kids “explicit” words, it is the proper name. It’s not all cutesy and flowery. It is the proper name for the part.

I do not see anything wrong with that. After all, we teach them the proper name for their ears, eyes, and toes. Why not the other parts?
[/quote]

Hi-
I’m quoting from the Catholic Parents OnLine introduction:
“Several of the people responsible for creating and implementing this program have ties with pro-death organizations such as the Feminist Majority Foundation and Playboy Magazine, and most of the recommended reading material for children is endorsed by Planned Parenthood.”

I personally have concerns with this information as I don’t feel IMHO these organizations and those associated with them have a proper, Catholic, understanding of human sexuality.
Recently the Bishop of Baker has stopped the VIRTUS program due to these and other concerns. You can read about his concerns here:
catholicparents.org/BishopVasaVirtus.html

You should read The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality for yourself so you can decide:
"83. Nonetheless, in the context of moral and sexual information, various problems can arise in this stage of childhood. In some societies today, there are planned and determined attempts to impose premature sex information on children. But, at this stage of development, children are still not capable of fully understanding the value of the affective dimension of sexuality. They cannot understand and control sexual imagery within the proper context of moral principles and, for this reason, they cannot integrate premature sexual information with moral responsibility. Such information tends to shatter their emotional and educational development and to disturb the natural serenity of this period of life. Parents should politely but firmly exclude any attempts to violate children’s innocence because such attempts compromise the spiritual, moral and emotional development of growing persons who have a right to their innocence.

  1. A further problem arises when children receive premature sex information from the mass media or from their peers who have been led astray or received premature sex education. In this case, parents will have to begin to give carefully limited sexual information, usually to correct immoral and erroneous information or to control obscene language."

God Bless!

As a mother of six, I believe it is the parent’s duty and responsibility to impart this type of information to their children, not have them exposed to it by others in a classroom situation.

I never had a problem discussing matters of sexuality to any of my children but I recognise that some parents may not be as comfortable doing so.

How come we never see programmes that are designed to help parents be able to talk about sexuality with their own kids?

The program seems more devoted to the legal protection of the diocese than the moral protection of the children.

I agree with the Pope John Paul II on this issue:

"It can be said that a child is in the stage described in John Paul II’s words as ‘the years of innocence’ from about 5 years of age until puberty - the beginning of which can be set at the first signs of changes in a boy’s or girl’s body (the visible effect of an increased production of sexual hormones). This period of tranquility and serenity must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex”

I’m not too impressed with the virtus program in general, except its ability to capitalize on the Church problems.

It may also solve many of its legal problems.

When I took virtus training, we watched videotapes of child molesters explaining their strategies and how they got the trust of a child. That was actually interesting and informative. I suspect actual child molesters probably wouldn’t learn anything from it, but I admit the strategies were pretty simple and pretty sound.

The program also says we shouldn’t use the 15-seat passenger van we had for our family to drive to school and parish activities, so we quit doing that.

Basically, I think the virtus program is a high dollar deal between the legal profession and the Church.

The virtus program teaches against all types of touching. Now these days even when I see it on TV, I cringe whenever I see a priest give an eager child a quick hug. Every time I see a child near a priest in church, thanks to virtus, I wonder whether the priest is being set up for a liability lawsuit. “Let the children come to me; I have a good enough lawyer I’m not afraid of it.”

Alan

[quote=pfoos]I agree with the Pope John Paul II on this issue:

"It can be said that a child is in the stage described in John Paul II’s words as ‘the years of innocence’ from about 5 years of age until puberty - the beginning of which can be set at the first signs of changes in a boy’s or girl’s body (the visible effect of an increased production of sexual hormones). This period of tranquility and serenity must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex”
[/quote]

JPII never was much for political correctness. :wink:

Alan

Alan,
Do you mean the program advised against you driving non-family members to activities?

I don’t know about Alan’s situation but we have some weird stuff like that flying around under the blanket category or VIRTUS guidelines. Some schools are not allowed to have parent drivers on field trips, for example. CCE groups can have parent drivers but only one parent can be in the car. Another adult can be there who is not married to the driver or related to any of the kids. :confused: And yet all of these adults are allowed to be chaperones on overnight retreats as long as they attend the 3 hour VIRTUS workshop and have a background check. The “rules” are complex, not (at first look, anyway) logical and vary from diocese to diocese as well as within the diocese.

As to the original topic, the “talking about touching” program is abhorant. I would never let my kids attend. I had heard that the kids program of VIRTUS was supposed to be more in line with the Church’s view of teaching children but am troubled now to read the comments by Bishop Vasa. I had read his letter before but assumed that he was speaking about the “talking about touching” program only. A re-read leads me to believe that he has the same reservations about all of the currently available options the fall under the “safe environment” programs for the kids.

On another thread, someone mentioned that there was supposed to have been a three step roll-out 1) training for priests, teachers and adult volunteers who have contact with children. 2) training and education for parents and then 3) education for children to help them speak out if put in an uncomfortable situation. I have yet to read about any diocese that has done Step 2. All of the ones that are in the “news” have done 1) and want to move to 3). Anyone out there know about a successful Step 2 implementation??

[quote=4HisChurch]Alan,
Do you mean the program advised against you driving non-family members to activities?
[/quote]

Yes. The program specifically warns of the particular type of van we own. Apparently they think I’m going to drive it like a crazy idiot and roll it over with kids in it.

For a couple years, I drove kids to retreats and other activities. The teachers liked that because I could take a dozen kids in one load. Ever since virtus we’ve been left out, as now the van itself seems to be some big darn threat or something. Virtus encourages parents to be nosy about what type of vehicle their kids ride in to school activities and whether they are using this type of van. http://bestsmileys.com/paranoid/7.gif

To me, the overall theme of virtus is we should not trust anybody, especially our closest friends, and we should regard everybody as a potential molester and basically go around being suspicious of everybody and focusing on the negative. http://bestsmileys.com/paranoid/1.gif

Here’s an article on the virtus website about the vans. virtus.org/virtus/virtus_van.cfm

It doesn’t exactly say that these vans “shall not” be used, but it talks about their safety and asks parents to ring in on whether they “verify the type of transportation and its safety.” Yes, there is a linked article on driver safety for such vans, but the clear message is not to use them. Basically, I feel like it’s setting me up for liability in the event of a crash, for having “warned” me against such vans. I don’t need that nonsense, so I don’t drive anybody anywhere except my own kids and their own personal friends, and if it is a school activity not even the friends. :nope:

This is how virtus helps us be safe and united. :frowning:

Alan

Here is a link to the virtus program spiel about their Touching Safety program:

virtus.org/virtus/touchingsafetyprogram.cfm

I have very little use for virtus. It is, I think, important for leaders and interested parents to learn about child molestation.

The funny thing is, the virtus program was put into place as legal protection primarily against the scandal with priests. The virtus program doesn’t even address that – it’s totally geared (as I remember it anyway – I don’t keep up with the updates) toward lay people, and watching each others’ parents and stuff like that.

The church in bringing in virtus is behaving just like any good corporate bureaucracy would. The managers get into serious trouble, seriously damaging the company and its stockholders, so all the low level employess are required to take ethics classes. To me, this is the stupidest part of virtus. It acts all like, “oh we’re doing something about our problem” when the entire program is cleverly designed to avoid even admitting that it could be a problem for clergy and leadership – the ones who put us in the situation in the first place to need this program. http://bestsmileys.com/doh/3.gif

Maybe I missed it, (or forgot it – it has been a couple years) but I also don’t remember anything in the introduction video that would lead a parent to question his/her children about being molested by their priest, at least not specifically. When I did watch the video, I noticed that there has been a great deal of work gone into these measures to make them say what they want the Church (it$ cu$tomer) wants to hear, and giving them a veil of legal protection at the same time.

Alan

Alan, that seems a bit odd to me. Why do they single out 15 passenger vans specifically? What does this have to do with child abuse? Why not mention SUVs as well?

My son’s Catholic elementary school banned carpooling to field trips–even local ones. They ended up having to cancel a long held tradition of having a field trip to volunteer at a local shelter because it would be too costly and silly to rent a bus to a location that was close to the school.

[quote=4HisChurch]Alan, that seems a bit odd to me. Why do they single out 15 passenger vans specifically? What does this have to do with child abuse? Why not mention SUVs as well?

My son’s Catholic elementary school banned carpooling to field trips–even local ones. They ended up having to cancel a long held tradition of having a field trip to volunteer at a local shelter because it would be too costly and silly to rent a bus to a location that was close to the school.
[/quote]

I agree. It seems quirky and arbitrary.

This whole effort reminds me of other efforts I’ve seen implemented in large bureaucracies. We have a huge problem here and a big spotlight on us. This problem is twofold in that there is the actual problem and then there are public and legal ramifications that force us to appear to be aggressively correcting the problem. Therefore, correcting the problem and making it look like we are doing everything we can are two separate entities.

The next step is to throw huge amounts of money at the program, and have lots of people with too little project direction go out and research goblins so that we may make a presentation that looks like we’re really thorough and stuff. By picking some arbitrary and bizarre things like this to harp on, we will seem creative and unique indeed, plus that adds to the verbage count – which makes a lot of difference in matters like these.

After all, if the Church has sued, she can rise to her own defense by showing she acted in “good faith” to correct it, as measure by how many dollars are spent and how many words were exchanged. That sounds very sinister, but in fact it probably is a valid and clever strategy for her to protect her assets.

Alan

You know, it gets to the point where I have to believe that God will use this current difficult situation to the greater good of the Church, however hopeless it may seem now.

[quote=4HisChurch]You know, it gets to the point where I have to believe that God will use this current difficult situation to the greater good of the Church, however hopeless it may seem now.
[/quote]

I agree. Priests are under very difficult circumstances, and very few men even try to become one. We need to learn how to help the priests in negotiating their duties better than we are now. Priests are faced with so many temporal duties and responsibilities many of them, as one confessed to me, end up giving up their prayer life and, in his words, “what good is a priest without a prayer life?”

While we put them into this world of continual temporal pressure, we expect them to be so divine that we don’t have to worry about their particular sins. OK, so now there is one thing out of all this that we recognize; the holiness of priests and their behavior cannot be presupposed, nor can we expect them to perform in the roles of immense responsibility on a worldly level without some serious glitches. Think about how small a pool of men there is from which the world’s largest organization and all its management levels must be run – we expect these people to manage an organization bigger than Wal-Mart and do it to perfection?

These are tests through which we are being purified, I believe – both individually and organizationally. One thing I think is different is evidenced by this very forum. Now that Catholics can be in communication with each other worldwide, we might just be able to be in better “communion” as well, and help each other help our clergy do things better.

Though I am cynical of the virtus program, given the condition we were in I do not fault the Church for implementing it, because it is very likely a prudent worldly measure. Sometimes a mediocre solution right now is more valuable than a better solution still in the formulation phase. :hmmm:

That said, I still think a lot of it – now I’m talking specifically about Virtus – is misdirected, overly bureaucratic, and may very well cause new problems even as it may solve old ones. :banghead:

Alan

[quote=AlanFromWichita] Priests are faced with so many temporal duties and responsibilities many of them, as one confessed to me, end up giving up their prayer life and, in his words, “what good is a priest without a prayer life?”

the holiness of priests and their behavior cannot be presupposed, nor can we expect them to perform in the roles of immense responsibility on a worldly level without some serious glitches.

[/quote]

You make some excellent points! I think most Catholics don’t even think of the spiritual side of the priesthood at all. Priests are looked at as a commodity by so many. So many of us these days are immersed in the modern media, that it is very difficult not to take on its world view and outlook.

Without being able to pay attention to the spiritual side of being a priest, its a wonder we have as many priests as we do.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.