The following Policy is applicable to all persons employed by or volunteering in any of the parishes and institutions of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. This Policy has been developed to help create a safe, appropriate, and Christian environment for minors and their relationship with adults involved in Church ministry. These child-specific standards are designed to serve as a supplement to the sexual boundary guidelines/code of ethics applicable to all those involved in the ministry of the Catholic Church (whether with minors or adults) that are set forth in the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s Policies and Procedures Regarding Child Abuse.
GUIDELINES WITH REGARD TO MINISTRY WITH MINORS #
- Any and all involvement with minors (i.e., individuals under the age of 18 and any person whose usual ability to reason is limited to that of a person younger than 18 years) is to be approached from the premise that minors should always be viewed – whether in a social or ministerial situation – as restricted individuals; that is, they are not independent. Wherever they are and whatever they do is to be with the explicit knowledge and consent of their parents and/or guardians. They are subject to specific civil laws in the State of California, which may prohibit certain activities. They are not adults and are not permitted unfettered decisions.
- Whenever possible, (see Numbers 3, 4, 5 and 6 below) adults must avoid situations which will place them in a position to be alone with a minor in the rectory, school, or in a closed room. The only exception is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Counselors should leave a door open to provide visual access while preventing inadvertent over-hearing of the conversation.
- In meeting and/or pastoral counseling situations involving a minor, excluding the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the presence or proximity of another adult is encouraged. However, in those situations where the presence of another adult is not usual or practical (e.g., piano lessons, disciplinary meeting with an administrator, etc.), another adult should be informed that the meeting is taking place. The meeting place should be accessible and visible, with the door where the meeting is taking place left ajar, unless there is a clear window providing visual but not audio access.
- The Sacrament of Reconciliation is to be celebrated in a place so designed for that purpose: reconciliation chapel or confessional, or in view (not hearing) of another adult.
- An unaccompanied minor is allowed only in the professional section of the rectory (parish offices) or parish center, never in the living quarters. Minors age 16 and over are permitted to work in the rectory when there would normally be at least two adults present who are 21 years of age or older.
- At least two adults are to be present when a group of minors engage in organized events or sports activities; save for unforeseen circumstances such as the sudden illness of a coach (though in such cases attempts should be made to secure the presence of a compliant adult, e.g., a parent of one of the group members).
- Adults are to avoid being the only adult in a bathroom, shower room, locker room, or other dressing area whenever minors are using such facilities.
- Youth trips of any kind must have a minimum of two adult chaperones, at least one of whom is of the same sex as the young people. Larger groups must have a least one adult chaperone for every eight minors.
- While on trips or program activities, the adults, as well as the minors, may not use alcohol or controlled substances. However, with the approval of the pastor or principal, modest alcohol consumption by adult workers and parents of children is acceptable at events such as end-of-season team parties, etc.
- While on youth trips, clergy or lay leaders are never to stay alone overnight with a minor or minors, with the exception of a lay leader staying in the same room with his/her own child. Whenever possible, it is desirable that minors be in separate rooms by sex and that two adults of the same sex as the minors share that sleeping space.
- The sacristy door is always to be open whenever minors are present within the sacristy.
- Comments of a sexual nature are not to be made to any minor except in response to specific classroom or otherwise legitimate questions from a minor.
- Topics or vocabulary, such as profanity, cursing, or vulgar humor, which could not comfortably be used in the presence of parish/school administrators, parents/guardians, or another adult, shall not be used in the presence of minors.
- Adults are absolutely prohibited from serving or supplying alcohol, tobacco products, controlled substances, or pornographic or other inappropriate reading materials to minors.
- Audiovisual, Internet, music, and printed resources used in programs must be screened prior to use to ensure their appropriateness for the participants. It is never appropriate to use an “R”-rated movie, or movies rated with an even stronger designation, save for use of Archdiocese-approved, age-appropriate films or film excerpts. Music lyrics should also be reviewed to ensure appropriateness.
- Careful boundaries concerning physical contact with minors must be observed at all times and such contact should only occur under public circumstances. Prudent discretion and respect must be shown before touching another person in any way. An adult should not assume that a child is comfortable with an adult-initiated hug or embrace, and, in any event, special care should be taken to avoid incidental contact, unintended or otherwise, with or in the vicinity of a child’s genital areas. If the child initiates physical contact, such as a hug, an appropriate limited response is proper.
- Adults must refrain from giving regular and/or expensive gifts to children and young people without prior approval from the parents or guardian and the pastor or administrator.
- It is never appropriate to impose “secrecy” on children and young people vis-à-vis their parents, police, etc. (e.g., under threat of physical harm, “punishment by God,” etc.).
- Clear violations of these standards, as well as any sexual misconduct, must be reported immediately to the appropriate parish, Archdiocesan and/or civil authorities in accordance with civil law and Archdiocesan policy.
GUIDELINES WITH REGARD TO PASTORAL COUNSELING
- Pastoral counseling must take place only in the professional portion of a rectory or parish facility, never in theliving quarters.
- Offices or classrooms used for pastoral counseling must have a window in the door, or the door is to be left ajar during the counseling session.
- Another adult must be in immediate proximity during any counseling session.
- Unless the subject matter precludes their presence and/or knowledge, parents or guardians of minors should be made aware of the counseling session.
- A referral for professional assistance is encouraged if counseling is expected to extend beyond two or three sessions with a minor. Evaluation of the situation should be made with the parents or guardians.
- The counselor is responsible to recognize any personal/physical attraction to or from a client. In such a situation, the client should be immediately referred to another qualified adult or licensed professional.
STANDARDS OF CONDUCT FOR YOUTH WORKING WITH MINORS #
The Archdiocese of San Francisco appreciates your willingness to help children who are younger than you. We have created these Standards of Conduct because we want our actions to match our faith; we want you to respect all people, from the adults in your life to the children who look up to you; and we want to make sure that you are treated with the respect that you deserve. There are conditions for this privilege of working with young people. We require that all junior and senior high school youth volunteering with minors in parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of San Francisco take the on-line training, “Teen Safety” which covers safe and appropriate ways to interact with others. You can find it at www.virtus.org.
We also ask that you observe the following “do’s” and “don’ts”:
- Respect the adults and children with whom you interact
- Protect and care for all children or other youth in your care
- Treat everyone with respect, loyalty, patience, integrity, courtesy and dignity
- Be positive, supportive and caring in speaking, writing and actions with the children/youth
- Report suspected abuse to a supervisor, parent, principal or pastor
- Maintain appropriate physical and emotional boundaries with the children/youth
- Dress appropriately and do not wear clothing with offensive messages or pictures
- Avoid situations where you would be alone with a child/youth
- Seek to affirm good behavior in children/youth and avoid any criticism or comparison that could hurt
- Be aware that young people can easily become overly attached to a youth leader or an adult: if you sense that is happening, do not encourage it; make your parent(s), supervisor, pastor or principal aware of it so that he/she/they can help.
- Commit an illegal or immoral act
- Smoke or use tobacco products in the presence of the children/youth
- Use, possess, or be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs at anytime
- Verbally threaten or physically abuse anyone
- Use profanity in the presence of children/youth
- Use discipline that frightens or humiliates a child/youth
- Touch a child/youth in an overly affectionate or other inappropriate manner
- Sexually harass, request sexual favors from, or make sexually explicit statements to anyone
- Tolerate inappropriate or bullying behavior
- Promote any view contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church
- Place yourself in a situation where your interaction with a child/youth cannot be witnessed
- Participate in private visits, parties or other activities with the children/youth unless approved byyour supervisor
- Develop inappropriate personal relationships with children over the Internet or through other forms of communication
- Accept gifts from or give gifts to children/youth in your care without approval from your supervisor
LETTER FROM ARCHBISHOP CORDILEONE REGARDING PROMULGATION OF EDUCATION PROGRAMS #
I am pleased to announce that effective today, November 1, 2017, the Archdiocese of San Francisco will offer safe environment training through VIRTUS Online, a program and service of THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC RISK RETENTION GROUP. VIRTUS will now replace SHIELD THE VULNERABLE in the training of children in parishes and schools of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The job of ensuring children’s safety is challenging for parents, teachers, catechists, youth ministers and educators, and requires more than adult awareness, education, and training. Children must also be given the tools needed to overcome the advances of people who might intend to do them harm. After a careful review of its training modules, we are pleased to introduce VIRTUS’s Touching Safety Program for Children, and its accompanying guide, Teaching Touching Safety. This is a school-based curriculum with lesson plans created for four age groups:
Grades K through 2
Grades 3 through 5
Grades 6 through 8
Grades 9 through 12
Each school year, the VIRTUS will provides a theme that introduces and builds on basic concepts of the Teaching Teaching Touching Safety Guide. The material is developmentally appropriate for each age group and includes content and activities that reinforce the important concepts presented.
We continue to affirm parents as the first educators of their children, and all VIRTUS programs offer opportunities for parental involvement. Please take time to review the VIRTUS program. Your questions or comments about the programs should be forwarded to Fr. Charles Puthota, Director of Pastoral Ministry, at [email protected], and his assistant, Karen Guglielmo, at [email protected]. Thank you for all that you do to implement these programs and to keep our children safe.
TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR ADULTS, AND YOUTH BY GRADE LEVEL #
Teachers and catechists are asked to introduce the on-line programs and give log-in instructions before sending them home to complete the assignment. Once all have completed and returned a printer Certificate of Completion, the teacher or catechist is asked to hold a “closure” session to affirm principals and give students an opportunity to ask questions.
COURSE DESCRIPTION FOR ADULTS #
Introducing the Protecting God’s Children® Program
The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc., is pleased to present a brief introduction to our Protecting God’s Children program. This “Flash” presentation exemplifies the information provided in our child sexual abuse awareness sessions for adults. If you have attended an awareness session, this presentation will repeat some of the information presented in our two awareness videos: A Time to Protect God’s Children and A Plan to Protect God’s Children. Please note. If you are required to complete online training, the material on this page is merely a preview and does not count for your required training. You’ll need to log into your account in order to access your required online training.
To preview the Protecting God’s Children awareness session, please click the link below to start the 11-minute presentation. If you have questions or comments about our programs or our website, please click here to send us an email message. And, either way, please visit our website frequently. New risk management information is added each week, with an emphasis on articles and interactive features designed to increase the public awareness about child sexual abuse, and to provide adults with the knowledge and tools they need to help prevent and, if necessary, to respond appropriately to child sexual abuse.
COURSE DESCRIPTIONS FOR STUDENTS #
The materials for teachers include everything needed to prepare for and present each lesson—including additional information to help teachers better understand the context of the materials they are about to present. For example, teachers have access to a glossary of terms for all the lessons. They also have handouts and other reference materials such as information on how to respond to disclosures, how to report suspected abuse, and other supplemental materials.
The lessons are organized in a three-year cycle so each child experiences a totally different lesson plan each time the materials are presented and so each child receives the full range of information from the Teaching Touching Safety Guide in small, “digestible” bites, over a three-year period. Then, as a child advances to the next age group, there are a whole new set of age appropriate lessons that explore the major topics in increasingly greater detail. Your diocese may choose to present one lesson in the fall and one in the spring or to present both lessons at the same time.
The themes covered in each of the three years (year four is optional) are:
Touching Safety Rules—Students learn simple rules about what to do and how to react when someone’s touch is confusing, scary, or makes the child or young person feel uncomfortable. Young people start to deal with the real risks they face when they are out in the world and on their own, and they begin to learn where to draw boundary lines in relationships.
Safe Friends, Safe Adults, and Safe Touches—Children, young people, and their parents establish basic guidelines for working together to make certain which friends and other adults in their environment can be trusted to act safely and in the best interest of each child or young person.
Boundaries—Students learn about personal boundaries and how identifying and honoring those boundaries can give a child or young person the self assurance needed to speak up when someone tries to step over the line.
Telling Someone You Trust—Children and young people learn who to tell when something makes them feel uncomfortable or confused. This lesson also begins to explore the phenomenon and power of “secrets” in a child’s life at various ages.
Grooming—Recognizing risky adult behavior: Part I—Students learn about the types of behavior that may indicate that an adult is grooming the child or young person for something more than friendship. It also helps students learn to trust their own instincts about what is “okay” and what is “not okay.”
Grooming—Recognizing risky adult behavior: Part II—Reinforcing and building on the lessons from Year 2, this lesson deals with peer groups and other influences (including grooming by an abuser) that prevent children and young people from reporting inappropriate behavior. It also helps children and young people develop their own decision-making process to use in these situations.
Internet Safety—Assisting children and young people in recognizing the risks of providing personal information to anyone on the Internet and to help them realize how hard it is to know who someone really is when the only avenue of communication is the Internet.
Creating and Following Family Rules—Educating young people about Internet safety and teaching them the importance of creating and following family rules in the effort to keep everyone safe.
Basic structure of the lesson plans: #
This program and each included lesson are founded on the principles of appropriate relationship boundaries in the broader context of Christian values. All lessons are age-appropriate, and help children and young people develop the vocabulary and boundary distinctions necessary to empower them to begin to recognize inappropriate behavior by others, while practicing appropriate relationship boundaries in their own lives. Each lesson takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour to complete.
Each lesson for each age group includes the following: #
Instructions to help the teacher, catechist, or youth minister prepare to deliver the lesson.
Helpful teaching support from the Catechism to give the teacher or catechist a framework for how to keep the lesson within the context of Church tradition and theology.
A learning goal, including expected learning outcomes for students.
An overview for creating a successful learning experience for the specific age group.
Key vocabulary words and definitions that apply to the lesson. These words empower children and young people with the distinctions they need to help recognize inappropriate behavior by those with whom they interact.
Suggested activities, with instructions (and appropriate handouts for students as needed).
A closing group prayer that reflects the key message of the lesson
The lessons focus on an age appropriate discussion of touching safety, relative to the specific roles that different people play in a child’s life. All of the lessons stress the importance of keeping private body parts “private,” and of telling a trusted adult about anyone’s behavior that causes a child to feel uncomfortable or threatened. Additionally, a new set of introductory videos has been developed to make it easier and more comfortable for teachers and catechists to present the lessons to students.
The Purpose of the Introductory Videos: #
Child sexual abuse is a sensitive topic. And, although the Touching Safety program lessons include activities that are simple and fun, it is not easy for some adults to initiate a preliminary discussion about sexual abuse. Even those who feel comfortable talking with their own children about these issues may find it challenging to talk about this subject matter in a classroom full of children or teenagers.
The new Touching Safety program video introductions are intended to relieve trainers of the responsibility for “breaking the ice” on this sensitive subject matter. The presenter on the video opens the discussion, covers some basic issues, and
Overview of the Touching Safety Program #
The program allows the “live” trainer to use the activities and supplemental materials in the lesson plans to engage children and young people in meaningful discussions about recognizing and avoiding unsafe behaviors. So, while the video lays the groundwork, the trainer uses the activities to help students apply the message from the lessons to their daily live.
Each video introduction is approximately six to seven minutes long. In each age-appropriate video, a presenter will speak directly to children or young people about the purpose of the program and the goals for the lesson, as well as what the children can expect from the activities and discussion. The presenter will introduce the touching safety rules and the concepts of “safe” and “unsafe” friends and adults, and provide some basic facts, vocabulary words, definitions, and discussion points that will be further developed through the activities and supplemental materials provided in the “live” portion of the training.
Three different age-appropriate videos are available-one each for: #
Grades K through 5 (this video is used to introduce both the Grade K-2 lessons and the Grade 3-5 lessons)
Grades 6 through 8
Grades 9 through 12
Also, the videos are available in English and Spanish language versions. And, all Spanish videos were written and produced as Spanish language presentations, and not merely as voice over translations or subtitles.
For your convenience, the individual videos for each lesson (English and Spanish) are available on a single DVD.