Teaching Touching Safely?


#1

Hi All,

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.

Thanks,

Susie


#2

Are you being asked to teach this class yourself? If so, you should have received extensive training. If the class is in just a few weeks, you may have missed something. In our diocese before a catechist can teach any of the sexuality or child protection classes, they have to attend 10 hours of training (in addition to VIRTUS) and be observed teaching classes before being allowed to teach unmonitored.


#3

They have this in my parish, and it’s not the regular teacher who teaches that class, but a separate person who teaches only that class to the various age groups. I have opted my children out of attendance (and sign the paperwork every year) since this started because I was appalled by the content in the materials that I was allowed to review before the classes. If someone’s interested, PM me and I’ll PM back, but I don’t want to post that sort of thing on an open board.


#4

They tried to do this in our diocese. In my parish, none of the Catechists would cooperate. There was supposed to be a big roll out to the Catholic schools too. At the school my children attended at the time, the Principal said he wouldn’t cooperate. The USCCB had a plan that VIRTUS training was the first step. Classes for students was supposed to be Part 3. Part 2 was supposed to be education for parents. The Part 3 materials were mainly adapted from secular materials (including one infamous program that Planned Parenthood underwrote :mad:). Part 2 never seemed to get off the ground. At least around here, no one was interested in jumping to Part 3 which would be a waste of time and money without parent education anyway.


#5

Our diocese uses the Child Lures program and I had to attend a workshop called CAP (Child Assault Prevention) and it is required of any person who volunteers or has a hired position in the diocese who will be in contact with children. Personally, I wish the parish would just bring in a professional and have an assembly for each of the nights of CCD to cover this topic, but I guess that would be too costly. I was given the materials to teach my class a week before the class and was given absolutely no direction on what to do (this was the case for all of the other catechists, too). The binder I was given was over 70 pages long.


#6

I think the VIRTUS program uses something called "Talking About Touching." 90% of what I've seen of it is good, useful prevention material. The other 10% makes me cringe.

When they first rolled it out at my kids old school we heard a bit about it and got to look at the materials. There was some acknowledgements that referred to a group called the "Committee for Children." Apparently THAT group was a spin-off of an organization called "Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics" (COYOTE), which was a politcal advocacy group in favor of legalized prostitution! (Apparently, prostitutes have a significant problem with their children being sexually abused and the group did the initial work that was built upon to make "Talking About Touching")
catholicparents.org/Virtus-Safe-Environment-Program/index.htm

OK, but hookers love their kids too, right? Yes, but they obviously don't share our views on the nature and purpose of human sexuality! IMO, this poor foundation is why there is a distinctly un-catholic feel about this program and why it is so explicit. It also places too much of the burden of abuse avoidance on the kids themselves instead of the grown-ups who are SUPPOSED to be responsible for providing a safe environment. The smallest of our children deserve a period of innocence when sexuality is latent and not at the forefront of attention. Instead of honoring that tradition, our bishops have placed our children in the hands of secular/worldly "experts".

It occurs to me that much of the headline abuse occurred PRECISELY because the bishops delegated the decision on what to do to offender priests to psychologists and psychiatrists instead of trusting the catholic moral standards. (Sending offender priests back to a new parish after counseling "cured" them and hushing the whole thing up). You'd think they'd have learned a valuable lesson and trusted more in revelation than secular experts with a dubious sexual outlook on humanity.

I haven't heard much about this for a while, but it sure was a furor when it first came out. Please report back if you find newer information. My kids don't go to that school anymore and the new one does a GREAT job facilitating parent "opt-out" paperwork as well as taking a more fully catholic approach to explaining sexuality and personal space.


#7

[quote="susie_g, post:1, topic:182852"]
Hi All,

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.

Thanks,

Susie

[/quote]

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.


#8

Our diocese wants us presenting it. The first year we had a parishioner who is a family and child therapist come in to present it to all of the kids in their classes during catechism time. That was a pain because of the number of classes we have. We have since been offering it on an off night and had a small number of attendees.

No special training was offered or suggested by our diocese.


#9

[quote="puzzleannie, post:7, topic:182852"]
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.

[/quote]

:blessyou:

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- can we clone you? :D


#10

[quote="puzzleannie, post:7, topic:182852"]
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.

[/quote]

Wow. This is extremely helpful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Susie


#11

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