Safe Environment Training
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was established in 2002 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Charter mandates that each diocese create and maintain a safe environment program in order to protect children and prevent abuse. One of the key elements is awareness – awareness of the dangers of child sexual abuse and how to recognize, report, and ultimately prevent it.
VIRTUS: Protecting God’s Children Program
Beginning in 2003, the Diocese of Scranton implemented a multi-faceted national program called VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children. Sessions, which include videos and discussion, have been conducted throughout the 11 counties of the diocese. Participants obtain materials at the live session and continue their education thru monthly online bulletins.
VIRTUS, derived from the Latin word meaning moral strength and excellence, represented a behavior and way of life in ancient times that aspired to the highest moral code and appropriate human interaction. The modern-day program which carries its name aspires to uphold these values. Participating in the VIRTUS training program applies only to adults 18 years and older.
Safe Environment Children’s Program
The national Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People also requires each diocese to set up a safety education program for children.
The safety education program for students in grades K-12 teaches them how to recognize and avoid situations that could lead to sexual abuse. It encourages communication between children and their parents so that dangerous situations are prevented. If a situation occurs, children are taught to report incidents promptly to a safe adult.
The Safe Environment programs for adults and children are ongoing. They are vital components of the Diocese of Scranton’s continuing commitment to ensure safe environments for all children