Virtus Revisited


#1

I just went through the training.

  1. It is much like sexual harrasement training at work.
  2. It could be much better if coupled with some kind of training for parents on ways to communicate with their children so that their innocence remains intact: Ex. dress modestly and what modest dressing is; keeping bathroom doors closed; self-respect etc.

Virtus is a quick patch for the adults. There is much more that it could be with a more Catholic approach.

Virtus for kids is inappropriate at best. Please contact your local Archdiocese and lodge your complaint with the Archbishop. DON"T let the children’s program be released in your diocese or parish.

You can check out the Dioces of Harrisburg. They’ve come out with a better Catholic approach for all - Parents and age appropriate. It may not be totally perfect, but it is much better.


#2

The Virtus website is here: virtus.org/virtus/

You can preview the Virtus program by clicking on the left side, on the link “Preview the Protecting God’s Children Program.”


#3

In the Detroit diocese the only people that are being asked to take the class are the people who work with children in the schools and the parish programs.

This is not a program that is meant for children only meant to educate adults on the problem we are facing in the world today.
As hard as it was to watch I don’t feel that they did a bad job presenting the material they were given.
As far as taking a Catholic aproach lets see how would you go about that. Throw the laws of the Church and the commandments out there. I think they are all quite obvious and do not really need to be revisted. Or maybe show all the real child molesters in the church.


#4

[quote=Toni]In the Detroit diocese the only people that are being asked to take the class are the people who work with children in the schools and the parish programs.

This is not a program that is meant for children only meant to educate adults on the problem we are facing in the world today.
As hard as it was to watch I don’t feel that they did a bad job presenting the material they were given…
[/quote]

the bishops’ mandate for parishes and dioceses to implement “Safe Environment” programs is 3-phase. Most dioceses are already compliant in phase one, orientation for employees and volunteers on recognition and prevention sexual abuse of children, and were supposed to implement phase 2, the same orientation for parents, last year. This year we are supposed to begin an orientation for all children enrolled in parish schools or RE programs on “Safe Touching”. VIRTUS is one company that has been contracted by many dioceses to provide these trainings and matetials.

This is NOT sex education. It is also not catechesis on Catholic sexual morality teaching. the first is the province of the parents, the second belongs in RE classes in parochial school or CCD.

These programs specifically address the sex abuse crisis in the Church by trying to make adults, both parents and those who work with children, aware of the nature of the problem, the profile of a child abuser, and of how to structure programs to ensure the safety of the children in our care.

Safe Touching programs are supposed to communicate to children the message that while most adults they meet are concerned for there welfare, there will always be some adults who try to take advantage of them. They are supposed to help children recognize when a potential abuser is taking advantage of them, and urge them to communicate with a trusted adult to put a stop to the situation. Their efficacy in these goals is a matter of debate.

The Catholic Church is not alone in using such programs, insurers and risk managers in most institutions that bring children and adults in close contect are urging their institutions to implement these programs. The Boy Scouts have been doing it for years.

Different programs on the market differ in approach, in resources and lesson plans, and in how explicit the language used and the extent to which the discuss or name “private parts” and how they profile potential abusers.

Your diocese MUST inform parents when the programs will be used and offer the chance to opt out of the program, and offer parents the chance to preview the material first. If this is not being done in your parish alert the diocese immediately. Every dioceses has an ombudsman to deal with such complaints, usually the vicar general or chancellor of the diocese, or someone he appoints. All these programs also have websites where these programs can be previewed, or the diocese must provide copies of resources in each parish for parents’ review.


#5

Evidently, our diocese is not in the MUST category! Our Bishop is not sold on these programs(refering to programs for children). He does not feel that it can be demonstrated that they do not in themselves cause damage to our children for a variety of reasons. Until he can be sure he will not allow them in our diocese. Thank heavens for this good man.

He is making the Vatican aware of the problems that are associated with these programs. (Bishop Vasa is known for reminding us that he answers to the Holy Father not the USCCB!)He has teamed with the Catholic Medical Association to review many of these programs before making a decision that could adversely affect our children.

His remarks regarding this dictate from the USCCB are found in the following link, specifically in the last 4 paragraphs:

http://www.sentinel.org/articles/2005-40/14234.html


#6

[quote=asquared]were supposed to implement phase 2, the same orientation for parents, last year. This year we are supposed to begin an orientation for all children enrolled in parish schools or RE programs on “Safe Touching”. VIRTUS is one company that has been contracted by many dioceses to provide these trainings and matetials.

This is NOT sex education. It is also not catechesis on Catholic sexual morality teaching. the first is the province of the parents, the second belongs in RE classes in parochial school or CCD.

These programs specifically address the sex abuse crisis in the Church by trying to make adults, both parents and those who work with children, aware of the nature of the problem, the profile of a child abuser, and of how to structure programs to ensure the safety of the children in our care.

Safe Touching programs are supposed to communicate to children the message that while most adults they meet are concerned for there welfare, there will always be some adults who try to take advantage of them. They are supposed to help children recognize when a potential abuser is taking advantage of them, and urge them to communicate with a trusted adult to put a stop to the situation. Their efficacy in these goals is a matter of debate.

The Catholic Church is not alone in using such programs, insurers and risk managers in most institutions that bring children and adults in close contect are urging their institutions to implement these programs. The Boy Scouts have been doing it for years.

Different programs on the market differ in approach, in resources and lesson plans, and in how explicit the language used and the extent to which the discuss or name “private parts” and how they profile potential abusers.

Your diocese MUST inform parents when the programs will be used and offer the chance to opt out of the program, and offer parents the chance to preview the material first. If this is not being done in your parish alert the diocese immediately. Every dioceses has an ombudsman to deal with such complaints, usually the vicar general or chancellor of the diocese, or someone he appoints. All these programs also have websites where these programs can be previewed, or the diocese must provide copies of resources in each parish for parents’ review.
[/quote]

I have not heard anything about any of these other phases. But there is a pretty large diocese to educate on phase 1. So we will see. As far as educating the children I can’t really see it happening around here in our catholic schools there would be a whole lot of parents up in arms.


#7

[quote=bellesjoy]Evidently, our diocese is not in the MUST category! Our Bishop is not sold on these programs(refering to programs for children). He does not feel that it can be demonstrated that they do not in themselves cause damage to our children for a variety of reasons. Until he can be sure he will not allow them in our diocese. Thank heavens for this good man.

Thank God for your wonderful Bishop. I am a teacher in a Catholic School. I threw a fit when the “Touching Safety” program was presented to the staff by our principal. We taught a watered-down version that most definitely did not include what they call the “optional” parts.
I have made attempts to contact my Bishop, local VIRTUS coordinator, and school superintendent. Would you believe not one of them has acknowledged my letters, e-mails and phone calls. :confused:
I was able to search out the names of a few people at VIRTUS and expressed my disappointment. They did e-mail me back only to say I should take up my concerns with my own diocese. I let them know that they wrote the program and they are responsible for it! :mad:

I’m not giving up. I don’t want to be disrespectful to my Bishop in any way, but I will not be ignored on such a grave matter.
This program misleads children in the most horrendous of ways.
[/quote]


#8

I’m interested in this statement. I haven’t seen any of the programs, but I’m curious as to how the program misleads children. Can you give us some examples?

Peace

Tim


#9

all of these programs, Virtus included, have websites where parents can review the materials. like all teaching materials, what is contained in the resource and what is presented to the children depends on the presenter or teacher. Please take the time, parents, to ask your pastor, DRE or school prinicipal, or the person in your diocese in charge of implementing child safety programs, for these links and do your homework.


#10

I had to go through the training as a youth leader for the high school group. While I understand that high school aged youth are underage, I felt like most of it didn’t really apply, and it didn’t address the things that I would actually be most concerned about. It seemed geared toward people who work with younger kids. I wish there were a program for people who work with older children and teenagers, since the issues with those ages are very different.


#11

There is a part of the program for children that includes using saints as examples. This is an optional part of the program. Therefore, if your Bishop wisely chose not to include it, then many have not seen it. Also, when I check the program on line, this optional part is not to be found.

It uses Maria Goretti as an example. If you are not familiar with her story, a man attempted to rape her. She fought, he killed her. She forgave him in his dream and he became a model citizen, getting out of jail early.
The lessons say they are teaching children to shout no and get away. How do these story connect? I believe this saint story would have kids not fight back because they would be afraid they may be killed. Also, we all know that short of a miracle, a pedophile will not become a wonderful citizen just because they are forgiven. This could also lead children to believe they have the power to heal a pedophile.

Believe it or not, the above is not even the worst. What do you think of this statement (in the handout for the children), "Our love of God gives us the courage we need to resist those who want to destroy our innocence or force us to behave in a way that is inappropriate or wrong."
I cannot believe they want me to tell my students that if they love God enough they won’t be abused. If they have been abused, it is because they did not love God enough. Also, if they have been abused, they have been forced to do something inappropriate or wrong! What is this, the dark ages? Haven’t we gotten over putting blame on victims.

The people at VIRTUS have refused to answer my questions about this program. They only say the “saint” part of the lesson is optional, so don’t teach it if you don’t want to. They don’t get that I do not want anyone to teach this pathetic program.

Would really like to hear what you guys think of this. It has me tied up in knots. I can’t seem to get anything but the runaround from VIRTUS or my diocese.


#12

Even here I receive no reply.

The Touching Safety program states it’s objectives are to teach private parts, for children take up for themselves, and to teach children to say “no”.

Maria Goretti and that quote completely contradict the objectives. It only instill fear, shame and guilt as far as I am concerned. Is this what people want to do to our children?


#13

[quote=Susan731]Even here I receive no reply.
[/quote]

I haven’t seen the program, so I have no comment. If it is just as you describe, I might have some questions. What other comment would you like?

Peace

Tim


#14

I’m not that familiar with the various programs, but I believe that the “Touching Safety” program is not necessarily a part of Virtus. At least it wasn’t a part of the program for adults that I took.


#15

I guess many people aren’t up to date on the VIRTUS programs. “Protecting God’s Children” is their adult program. “Touching Safety” is their program for children. I teach in a Catholic school, and we chose not to teach the “saint” part of the program.

As to your question, what comment would I like. I would like to know your opinon of this quote, “Our love of God gives us the courage we need to resist those who want to destroy our innocence or force us to behave in a way that is inappropriate or wrong.”

Am I just a Catholic who doesn’t know the teachings of her Church? Is this our belief–A victim of abuse didn’t love God enough to have the courage to resist? The victim was forced to do something inappropriate or wrong?


#16

[quote=Susan731]I guess many people aren’t up to date on the VIRTUS programs. “Protecting God’s Children” is their adult program. “Touching Safety” is their program for children. I teach in a Catholic school, and we chose not to teach the “saint” part of the program.
[/quote]

I am a facilitator for the “Protecting God’s Children” program, but I don’t know anything about the children’s program.

As to your question, what comment would I like. I would like to know your opinon of this quote, “Our love of God gives us the courage we need to resist those who want to destroy our innocence or force us to behave in a way that is inappropriate or wrong.”

Am I just a Catholic who doesn’t know the teachings of her Church? Is this our belief–A victim of abuse didn’t love God enough to have the courage to resist? The victim was forced to do something inappropriate or wrong?

Without seeing the program and only commenting on that specific quote and situation, I would tend to agree with your analysis. What is the context of that quote?

Peace

Tim


#17

[quote=Susan731]The lessons say they are teaching children to shout no and get away. How do these story connect? I believe this saint story would have kids not fight back because they would be afraid they may be killed. Also, we all know that short of a miracle, a pedophile will not become a wonderful citizen just because they are forgiven. This could also lead children to believe they have the power to heal a pedophile.e.
[/quote]

I have been through all the modules for the Virtus Touching Safety program and none of them teaches to “shout and try to run away” or that a pedophile can be healed by the actions of a child. I would like to see links to the lessons you are referring to.


#18

As I stated in a previous post, when you search for this info on the internet, the saint part of the program is not there. Since the saint portion of the lesson is optional, you would only have received it if the Bishop of your diocese chose for his diocese to teach the optional saint lesson. Many dioceses chose not to. As a matter of fact, I received word today that no one in my diocese will teach the lesson with the saint handout.

You obviously haven’t been through all the modules, as there are three objectives of the Touching Safety for children exactly as I stated previously-- know your private parts, get away from the person, shout “no”. We were even supposed to practice shouting “no”! We were also supposed to write poems about words to say to get away from the pedophile!

As for the quote, at the end of the story about Maria Goretti, they list four things that Maria’s story should teach you. That quote was one of those four things.

I didn’t say the statement about “being able to heal a pedophile” was an objective. It is my humble opinion as a teacher of children and mother that a child could come to that conclusion from the Maria Goretti story. In the story the man went to jail after killing Maria. Maria came to him in a dream and forgave him, bringing him flowers. He became a model citizen and was released from jail early.

It seems that you don’t quite believe this lesson exists. You can contact Michael Bemi at National Catholic Services. You can link to his website from the VIRTUS website.


#19

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