Our mission is to create safe environments for children through education and prevention programs, and establishing policies that clearly set standards of behavior regarding contact with minors. These endeavors include:
- The Diocese of Scranton maintains a zero tolerance policy for clergy, lay employees and volunteers who engage in misconduct with minors and takes immediate action when an accusation is made. Any allegation of abuse is reported immediately to law enforcement, and any substantiated allegation against a member of the clergy results in immediate and permanent removal from ministry.
- The Diocese retains a Victim Assistance Coordinator who coordinates assistance for the immediate pastoral care of persons who claim to have been sexually abused as a minor by a member of the clergy. Each year, this program offers substantial support to survivors and their families by underwriting expenses related to counseling, medication and other forms of care.
- All employees in parishes, schools and Diocesan run facilities – clergy, religious and laity – as well as volunteers, including teachers and coaches, must have up-to-date criminal background and child abuse clearances. In addition, all employees and volunteers receive training on the nature of child sexual abuse and how a parish/school community can work together proactively to prevent it. Since 2003, the total number of adults trained by the Diocese now stands at 29, 675.
- In order to strengthen the protection of children and assure that all mandated reporters of child abuse have accurate information, the Diocese of Scranton requires all identified mandated reporters to complete a training course.
- The Diocese has also implemented a safe environment program for students in grades K-12 in Catholic schools and parish religious education programs to teach them how to recognize and avoid situations that could lead to sexual abuse. It also encourages communication between children and their parents so that potentially dangerous situations and incidents are reported promptly.
- The diocesan website (www.dioceseofscranton.org) contains comprehensive information about Child Protection policies and procedures. In every edition of The Catholic Light, we publish a notice about reporting sexual abuse of a minor. We also urge anyone to report incidents of child abuse immediately to the 24-hour PA Child Abuse Hot Line. The toll-free number is 1-800-932-0313.
- Every diocese in the U.S. undergoes an annual audit to determine if it is complying with the provisions of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.The Diocese of Scranton has been in compliance with all audits conducted since inception of the audit process. We constantly assess our procedures to insure that we are following our policies.
- The Safe Environment Advisory Committee was established in 2016 to provide recommendations and feedback concerning policies and practices of the Safe Environment Program. Approximately 40 members from throughout the Diocese of Scranton serve on the Committee.