[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…
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.