[quote="susie_g, post:1, topic:182852"]
I haven't been on this forum in a very long time, but I have a question that I think people on here could help with. I am a 6th grade catechist at my parish, and also have several children enrolled in the Religious Ed. program. They are beginning a "Teaching Touching Safely" program for all the children for one class only in a couple of weeks. Does anyone have any experience with this program? It is in response to the priest sexual scandals in recent years. I think it's part of the larger Virtus Training program.
There will be a chance for parents to preview the materials before the class is taught to the kids, but I thought I'd ask here, as well.
here is what is supposed to happen
DRE takes the training in the entire program, the various lesson plans for age levels, how it is to be taught in the context of RE, what you discuss and what you do not, etc.
the catechists are then trained either by the DRE or the diocesan person responsible
the parents are introduced to the program and given a chance to review the materials and lesson plans, and to opt-out if they prefer
Then and only then are the lessons presented to the children, in the timing set by the diocese.
NOW: here is what ususally happens. Parents are given a chance to sift through a 4" binder of tiny type to review the lesson plans, with minimal explanation of what the program entails. Since only a handful come to the optional meeting to preview, most don't have a clue. They sign the opt out form like they do everything else, without reading it. The catechists are handed a 4 page lesson plan in 7 point type with some idiotic coloring pages attached and told: all the children will watch a video next week then you will teach them from this lesson plan. No preparation, no explanation, no context within the RE curriculum. In the middle of first communion prep suddenly the children are thrust into a discussion of how to say know, setting boundaries, who is a safe adult etc.
In this parish I schedule two orientations each year for the catechists, and 4 for parents. I present what I am required to present by our bishop. (at this point all catechists and parents have already participated in the adult part of Virtus--Protecting God's Children so they understand why the bishop's have adopted this program).
We go through the resource and come up with our own lesson plan, and present it in a context of the overall curriculum.
the lesson on "saying no" for instance is presented in the context of their learning about sin, temptation, resisting peer pressure, saying no to sin, examples from saints, the difference between free will and being forced to do wrong, and so forth.
the lesson on trust--how to know who is a safe adult--we presented in the context of John the Baptist and Baptism of the Lord, beginning with a discussion on how and why the people trusted John as a prophet, and trusted Jesus after the baptism when he began his ministry.
and so forth.
It takes a lot more planning, but in the process the catechists become much more familiar with the content and purpose of each lesson. The actual presentations are made by catechists who have professional expertise and experience in the area of child protection, as they have volunteered to take the diocesan training and can add a lot from their experience.
we also schedule the presentation on a day when light attendance is expected, at the beginning or end of a semester, so it is less disruptive of the curriculum. No catechist who feels uncomfortable with the material is required to teach it. About 80 of 400 children turned out for the program at the last session.
In meetings with my pastor I have detailed what parts of Touching Safety I refuse to present, and why (at his request) and he thankfully has passed my objections, which I share with many of the DREs, to the diocese. If I get fired someday so be it. We are meeting diocesan requirements (I checked) and providing the information that will be useful to parents and children. the coloring pages for the last lesson were downright creepy so I found something else.
I forgot to say that at the regular parent orientations the parents are offered the lesson plans to teach at home at their discretion, and about 20-30 people go this route. The rest don't seem to care one way or t'other.