Teaching safety programs

mandated by the bishops. I have seen this program and it seems not in line with "The truth and meaning of human sexuality"
The pontifical counsel of the family.

Does anyone know about this?? And why there are no voices heard again this program??

I should probably try to clearify myself.

This virtus program teaching safety mandated by the Bishops. Has anyone seen this program??
I will give you an example of it. This will be to my six year old daughter.
Give children examples of situations that might come up, and talk about what to do in each situation:

Waht if the person who is trying to touch your private body parts is a bigger kid, and not an adult??

The truth and meaning of human sexuality says:
Nonetheless, in the context of moral and sexual information, various problems can arise in this stage of chldhood. In some societies today, there are planned and determined atempts 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 intergrate 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 atempts ot violate childrens’s innocence because such attempts compromise the spiritual, moral and emotional development of growing persons who have a right ot their innocence."

Welcome! :wave:

Is this the program you are referring to?


If you could give us a bit more information, that would be helpful. Is this program specifically for young children, or is it just safety training for the adults who will be working with children? (or is it both?) That would make a big difference in how you might respond.

The bishops have not mandated any specific Child Protection program. The conference of bishops has recommended doing some program (and I think all but one diocese has followed this recommendation), but each diocese is free to choose what program they want to do. That is up to the bishop. Some dioceses go with programs like Virtus’, and some make up their own.

In other words, the Virtus program is far from an “official” program of the Catholic Church. It is basically a program made by a third party organization that many dioceses are buying for their use. So, it is quite possible that there would be some problematic components.

If you find problems with the program (particularly if it seems to go against the Pontifical Council for the Family’s [PCF’s] Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality), I would trust your instinct. You should bring your concerns to your pastor (and then to the bishop, if necessary). But don’t go empty handed. Do your research.

I did a google search to find more info on the program. In that search, I found a couple articles that might be particularly helpful from websites I find to be generally reliable:
[list]*]Important Points Concerning the Virtus Program and “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality”
*]USCCB Takes a Hard Line on Child Safety Programs.[/list]

Also, find the relevant passages from the program and those from the PCF’s document that illustrate your concern.

At the very least, you should be able to “opt out” of having your child participate in the program. Parents are the primary educators of their children. It is certainly within your rights as primary educator of your child to handle this subject for yourself in a manner and at a time that you feel is appropriate for your child. (6 years old does seem a bit young for those sorts of questions).

We just had a safe environment presentation for our CCD classes. I believe there was a different presentation for the different classes. Since I teach 5th grade, we had essentially the same lesson plan as the 4th and 6th graders. There are options built into the program - show a brief film (we didn’t), have them right a poem about safe and unsafe touches based on what they learned, cut examples of both out of magazines, etc. I don’t know what is presented to the other grades or how it’s done. I also can’t speak for other schools.

Ours consisted of telling the children that their body and life is a special gift from God. And just like any other special gift they might have, they want to take care of it and not let anyone damage it or handle it improperly. Safe touches are comforting, helpful, friendly, loving, and don’t hurt. Unsafe touches are the opposite - scary, hurtful, uncomfortable - they don’t feel right. The safe areas were the arms, hands, shoulders, head (touches all had to be gentle of course). The unsafe areas were described as mainly the areas your bathing suit covers but any touch that hurts, no matter where it is, is unsafe. Doctors, parents, etc. can touch in unsafe areas to help them if they are sick, etc. but even with those select groups, the kids have the right and duty to protect the gift God gave them by forcefully say no and run from the person if it doesn’t feel right. They’re then told to go to a parent or other trusted person and tell them what happened. Most thought they had to be polite if it was someone close to them. Anyway, that’s the gist of it. It wasn’t any more graphic than what I’ve said above. They hear and see worse on TV or in school from the other kids.

The problem is the world isn’t what it used to be. There are people that do bad things and the statistics on child abuse/molestation are depressing. The idea of the program, at least as we do it, is to reinforce what the parents hopefully teach their kids. And, kids do need to be taught - even the young ones - but it must be age appropriate and without making them scared to death of everyone and everything. They also need to know that sometimes even people they trust can do an unsafe touch and they can say no and go to their parents or other trusted person.

We send a notice home to the parents a few weeks before the program with an outline of the lesson for their child’s class. They are welcome to call with any questions or to request a copy of the full plan. I think they can even attend if they want. There isn’t any problem if they want to keep their child out of class that day. I’m guessing it’s handled a similar way for the full-time students as well, although they might not be excused from the whole day since it’s only about a 20-30 minute presentation.

If you have concerns about how it will be handled at your child’s school, by all means look into the program itself, who will be teaching it, and ask for the full lesson. They should be happy to give it to you or answer any questions. Ask to speak to some of the parents of the kids who were taught the lesson last time and see what they have to say. If you’re still uncomfortable, opt out - it’s your child and you have the ultimate say.

touching safety and protecting God’s Children, the programs of the Virtus child safety module which is the one adopted by most dioceses, has been discussed in great depth here, so yes, there are many voices raised against the program and its failings, you are not the first.

I suggest visiting the Virtus website and becoming familiar with the programs, and then using that information, do what you can to influence decision makers in your diocese and parish.

it is the absolute mandate in every diocese that uses the touching safety program that parents be given the opportunity to review the video and all teaching materials before the class is offered, and that they be able to opt out in writing. We must send those opt-out forms to the diocese, verify that they were honored, report how many children received the two lessons required each year, and how many did not attend. there is a very strict accountability demanded of parishes on this matter.

Protecting God’s children, or a similar program, is required of almost every diocese in the US, with a couple of exceptions from bishops who disagree with its premise and content. If the diocese requires it the parish has no option except make every staff member, teacher, catechist, or volunteer to take the program. there is also strict accountability on that.

“Preserving innocence” vs. protecting our children from sexual predators.

I pick protecting children. The Church has to do this now because it dealt so badly with the problem of sexual predators in the institution. The institution protected them and betrayed the children.

Teaching our children to be safe is not “premature sexual information” in our warped society.

What age would be right in your opinion? By 5, they are away from us most of the day at kindergarten. When should they learn about people who might want to hurt them and how to say no and get out of the situation? When should they learn to recognize the signs that someone might want to hurt them? If they are warned about “grooming” behaviors, then they might be able to stop their own abuse before it happens!

BTW, I have seen with my own children that having honest information does not take away their innocence. Too many people equate ignorance with innocence.

I did a search as puzzleannie suggested, and, boy is she right! There are many other threads on Virtus here at CAF. Here’s the list of all of them:


You should be able to find some good discussion points from many of these threads.

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