Virtus


#1

I just went through the “Protecting God’s Children” Virtus program. YUCK!
I understand it is supposed to be like the Sexual Harrassment training many of us go through at work. However, this is the CATHOLIC CHURCH - SO WHERE IS THE CATHOLIC TEACHING??

We ALL know child molestation is horrible, that children are hurt and tramatized for a long time - even for the rest of their lives.

Where is the teaching to parents of proper teaching of MODESTY, PRIVACY, SELF-RESPECT?

The facilitator said, “Yes, there should be more Catholic teaching but this is the program that we have.”

I say, why not change the Virtus program to include teaching parents ways to strengthen modesty, self respect etc. instead of the Virtus idea that we should teach our children what pornography is??

Is there anyone else out there outraged by this junk?


#2

I haven’t seen it but I did just read something on it the other day. I went to try to find it - here it is:

catholicexchange.com/vm/index.asp?vm_id=2&art_id=23874

Sounds pitiful, in my opinion. Maybe I’ll venture on over to their website and watch the preview they offer. I’ll get back to you…


#3

This is the first time I am hearing anything about this. Could you please explain what exactly Virtus is? Is it a program offered by your local parish? Is it in conjunction with a Catholic school?

I would imagine that teaching children about pornography too explicitly and at too early an age would be very harmful. Why not just teach them that these are the parts of their bodies to keep to themselves, and if they see these parts of anyone else, even in a picture, to let a parent know?


#4

Virtus is a program many dioceses require volunteers to go through before they may work with children.

It’s purpose is to educate adults about sexual abuse, and to know what may be warning signs that someone is a predator, and to report if something just doesn’t feel right.

You watch a video in which they interview survivors and their families, a psychologist, and abusers, who described their techniques to “groom” children and their families.

You can find out more at virtus.org/virtus/


#5

[quote=Donna P]I just went through the “Protecting God’s Children” Virtus program. YUCK!
I understand it is supposed to be like the Sexual Harrassment training many of us go through at work. However, this is the CATHOLIC CHURCH - SO WHERE IS THE CATHOLIC TEACHING??

We ALL know child molestation is horrible, that children are hurt and tramatized for a long time - even for the rest of their lives.

Where is the teaching to parents of proper teaching of MODESTY, PRIVACY, SELF-RESPECT?

The facilitator said, “Yes, there should be more Catholic teaching but this is the program that we have.”

I say, why not change the Virtus program to include teaching parents ways to strengthen modesty, self respect etc. instead of the Virtus idea that we should teach our children what pornography is??

Is there anyone else out there outraged by this junk?
[/quote]

I’m not sure what you mean by “the Virtus idea that we should teach our children what pornography is”. Someone may get the wrong impression here.

I recently attended a VIRTUS class myself. I can’t say that I learned anything that I did not already know. In our session, they presented facts and encouraged questions, but there really wasn’t much in the way of answers given.

Perhaps you should come up with concrete suggestions and provide it as feedback.

Peace… :slight_smile:


#6

I found the adult program pretty harmless. It was nothing new to me.

However, have you seen the children’s program!!! It is bad!!


#7

I went through this program a couple of years ago. It was completely pointless, as far as I remember (e.g., “Sexual predators do bad things, keep them away from children.”).

I was under the impression that this program was a sort of reaction to the pedophilia “scandal” in the Christian community, to show that the Church is being proactive. Whatever the case, it’s a waste of time and resources.


#8

I was a musician in my church’s choir for a while; thus, I had to attend one of these programs. However, they wanted me to be finger-printed so they could do a criminal background check on me. I believe in protecting our children just as much as the next guy, but this was a bit too much for me. I had nothing to hide but they should also be a little bit more trusting if volunteers are giving of their time --for free, might I add-- to help out the church. Not to mention, that I don’t know what kind of ramifications this might have for me at my next job interview. Now don’t get me wrong. I think alerting people to this kind of thing through the seminar was fine, just show to me that trust is a two way street. We’re supposed to be the good guys. GW


#9

So there are both adult’s AND CHILDREN’S programs???

I was only aware of the adult program. The adult program is mostly about setting up programs in such a way that children are never alone with potential abusers and adults never put themselves in a position where they could be accused of abuse.

It also covers some info on legal responsibilties if abuse is suspected.


#10

[quote=GWofVA]I was a musician in my church’s choir for a while; thus, I had to attend one of these programs. However, they wanted me to be finger-printed so they could do a criminal background check on me. I believe in protecting our children just as much as the next guy, but this was a bit too much for me. I had nothing to hide but they should also be a little bit more trusting if volunteers are giving of their time --for free, might I add-- to help out the church. Not to mention, that I don’t know what kind of ramifications this might have for me at my next job interview. Now don’t get me wrong. I think alerting people to this kind of thing through the seminar was fine, just show to me that trust is a two way street. We’re supposed to be the good guys. GW
[/quote]

I think the finger printing is becoming pretty standard for anyone who works directly with children.


#11

here is an article detailing the Children’s program “touching safety”

michnews.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/196/9482/printer

Basically, it is a good touch/bad touch program that is more explicit. It is designed to start with preschoolers, by the way.

If your diocese chooses not to utilize the program, then it is non-compliance. Isn’t that great?


#12

[quote=GWofVA]I was a musician in my church’s choir for a while; thus, I had to attend one of these programs. However, they wanted me to be finger-printed so they could do a criminal background check on me. I believe in protecting our children just as much as the next guy, but this was a bit too much for me. I had nothing to hide but they should also be a little bit more trusting if volunteers are giving of their time --for free, might I add-- to help out the church. Not to mention, that I don’t know what kind of ramifications this might have for me at my next job interview. Now don’t get me wrong. I think alerting people to this kind of thing through the seminar was fine, just show to me that trust is a two way street. We’re supposed to be the good guys. GW
[/quote]

The problem is, as the Virtus program explains, that abusers often look like the “good guys.” They appear friendly, kind and thoughtful. They do whatever necessary to gain trust of adults in order to get closer to children.

I went through the Virtus training, and I found it helful. It identified different behavior patters of abusers. Additionally, the program notes that abusers will strike wherever it’s easiest. For a long time, volunteers in church programs (any denomination) weren’t really questioned because, as this poster noted, the volunteers are free help.

Putting requirements like the Virtus program or fingerprinting or background checks will do several things.

  1. Make it impossible for abusers with a past history on record to gain access.
  2. Show a potential abuser that the church is aware of the potential for child abuse and has a plan in action to stop/report such abuse.
  3. Give other volunteers the tools to stop/see abuse.

#13

[quote=GWofVA] I was a musician in my church’s choir for a while; thus, I had to attend one of these programs. However, they wanted me to be finger-printed so they could do a criminal background check on me. I believe in protecting our children just as much as the next guy, but this was a bit too much for me. I had nothing to hide but they should also be a little bit more trusting if volunteers are giving of their time --for free, might I add-- to help out the church. Not to mention, that I don’t know what kind of ramifications this might have for me at my next job interview. Now don’t get me wrong. I think alerting people to this kind of thing through the seminar was fine, just show to me that trust is a two way street. We’re supposed to be the good guys. GW
[/quote]

There should be zero ramifications.


#14

With all the–justified–outcry that something needed to be done about sex abuse in the Church. Something is now being done. This program is an effort to address the issue now and for the future. So, because it is not “perfect” in some minds, some people are outraged because the program is required. I think the outrage of the latter is wasted and contrary to the effort to be proactive in protecting our children.

I was “required” to participate in the Virtus program. I found it enlightnening, appropriate and valuable.


#15

I’m glad someone said that most sexual predators are/look like ‘good guys’…because my uncle was THE most God-fearing, child-friendly, lovely man…the ideal son who visited and cooked for his mother, every day, who was active in the (Mennonite) church, did lots of things for the community, was the supervisor at a work-place for retarded adults, a doting father, a loving husband who nursed his first wife through terminal leukemia, and who had the perfect marriage with his second wife too…When in the mid-1980s several young women took him to court for abuse, including a whole bunch of foster-children, my grandma was in denial…Heck: EVERYBODY was in denial: this was the most loving, hard-working, wonderful man you could ever hope to meet! Yet…it was those characteristics that helped him ‘groom’ his victims, into believing ‘nobody will believe you’…and quite a few said ‘But he was so christian, I just had to trust him!’…Yes, you can be VERY wrong indeed…So, I think even if that Virtus programme is the first feeble attempt at wising up people, AND children…unfortunately, from experience I can say: it’s needed :frowning: !

Anna x


#16

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.


#17

I, too, have gone through the Virtus training since I am a volunteer catechist for our parish. While I would hope that no predators would choose our parish’s children as victims, I know that is naive. I am grateful that the Church is educating our children’s faith leaders about those among us who have evil motives. I am grateful that those with whom I work have learned about the warning signs in order to protect MY children. I am grateful that I have learned about those children among us who have been abused so that I may know the warning signs and know what to do in order to help them. I know this program is mandated by the Church, coming forth from the sex abuse scandals, but I do not understand why some would view it as a threat and an inconvenience if it’s intent is to “Protect God’s Children”. Shouldn’t that be what we want anyway?


#18

The adult portion of the program is okay. In fact, it has the right idea–educate the parents so they can educate their children.

What I don’t like is the Touch safety program for children. That is not the role of the church to violate the innocence of children. The Church should educate and empower parents to take charge of educating our kids. I’d advise all parents to opt out of this touching safety program. A six year old may be ready to know that there are people out there who want to touch her… in a bad way, but it should be up to the parents to determine readiness and to present it to their kids.

I don’t advocate ignorance, but innocence.


#19

While I agree with what you’re saying, it’s exactly that ‘innocense’ that made victims of my uncle’s foster-children and step-children…They WERE told ‘Don’t let anybody touch you in certain places’, and while that worked for me (my uncle never really got anywhere with me for that reason, although he tried), it didn’t work for the other children…The simple reason being, that a child tends to respond to authority: ‘He’s older, he’s my dad/uncle/elder, he must know what he’s doing’…it really is so much more complex than ‘touch’, ‘don’t touch’, but WITHOUT the ‘I don’t want you to touch me, I’m going to tell mommy/daddy/my teacher/priest’ , you’re giving the paedophile a great scope to work…and that worries me.

Anna x


#20

As a Virtus facilitator, I think that it is important for people to understand what Virtus is and isn’t. Virtus is a program designed to make adults more aware of the methods used by sexual predators and how to be more alert to the warning signs that something is wrong. Virtus is not designed to teach Catholic moral theology, nor is it designed to give adults direction for teaching our children. It is also not a comprehensive training course for dealing with either sexual predators or abused children.

Regarding background checks, those are mandated by many employers as a condition of employment. In the case of adults who either volunteer or work for the Church in a position that allows that person to have contact with children, the request of a background check is a very reasonable request. The fact that some organization does a background check on you will have no implications for you in the future unless something is identified.

Most of the people who have attended the sessions that I have facilitated seem to believe that the three hours were worth it.

Peace

Tim


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