I don’t have a problem with Virtus, as presented for catechists, volunteers, employees who work with children-required by our bishops. It is a two-part video presentation, with workbook and discussion, on how to recognize and prevent child sexual abuse. One video is testimony from convicted pedophiles and victims of pedophiles, describing some typical scenarios and methods used to seduce the young. Most who have seen it have found it to be a real eye-opener, because a lot of people are in denial about it. Even parents negative about the program have commented that this was beneficial.
the other video is specifically for those who work with children on what is and is not appropriate conduct, touching etc., how to set up the environment of the school etc. so that situations never arise in which children may be in jeopardy–never be alone with a child, eliminate places where someone could take a child out of sight or hearing of others, just practical safety tips, for the guidance of those in charge, common sense. This is also for the protection of the adult. If proper procedures are followed, false accusations are less likely to stand up.
What I do have a problem with is that this presentation is isolated from a context of overall teaching of the Church on sexuality and morality in general. A huge budget, time and resources is spent on this, in order to comply with directives from the Bishops to satisfy insurance and lawyers, but we do not direct equal resources to comprehensive formation and catechesis on morality in general.
I just attended yesterday orientation for DREs on the children’s portion of this program, called Safety Awareness. No, it does not deal with wearing helmets while riding a bike or looking both ways before crossing the street. If focuses only on communicating a narrow message: you have a right not to accept touching or speech that makes you “uncomfortable” or makes you “feel icky” exact quotes. When someone does behave in a way you don’t like, tell your parents or other “special adults” who are trustworthy, and “just say no”.
I am still digesting the problems I have with it, because I have to report to my pastor today on whether I will comply with orders to implement this training with children beginning this semester. I will add more when I have thought thru my response, which on a gut level is a qualified acceptance, with some nagging objections.