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What is the Safe Environment Program?

The Safe Environment Program is a comprehensive, educational sexual abuse prevention program required in all Dioceses by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, through the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."

Article 12 of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," states: "Dioceses/eparchies are to maintain safe environment programs which the diocesan/eparchial bishop deems to be in accord with Catholic moral principles. They are to be conducted cooperatively with parents, civil authorities, educators, and community organizations to provide education and training for children, youth, parents, ministers, educators, volunteers, and others about ways to make and maintain a safe environment for children and young people."

What is the purpose of the Safe Environment Program?

The purpose of the Safe Environment Program and Training is to provide education and awareness on the topic of child sexual abuse. The training is designed to promote safe environments for children and to prepare adults for ensuring the protection of children and young people from sexual abuse.

How is this accomplished?

This is accomplished through a comprehensive program that educates adults on how to recognize the signs and indicators of sexual abuse, how to communicate with children, and how to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse. Additionally, the program focuses on how to educate children and how to prevent children from becoming victims of sexual abuse.

Who must be involved in this mission?

Everyone must be involved. It is the responsibility of each one of us to promote the safety of children and to become involved in the protection of children. Sexual abuse prevention is our responsibility as parents, educators, church personnel, and members of this community. We cannot wait for someone else to take responsibility for protecting children from sexual abuse. Our children depend on caring adults for protection and safety.

How do we get involved in the protection of children?

There are numerous ways to become involved in protecting children from sexual abuse. Today you are taking the first step by contributing your time and your support to maintaining a safe environment for children. Your attendance and participation at the Safe Environment training will provide you with resources on how to protect children from sexual abuse.

How do we specifically keep children safe from sexual predators?

Throughout the Safe Environment training, you will learn specific information on how to observe a child's behavior as well as a sexual predator's behavior. This session will provide the steps you can take to keep children safe. You will be able to identify risk factors and how to prevent child sexual abuse.

Will this training offer all of the information I need to keep children safe?

No, this training will prepare you and enable you to provide initial education to children, but on-going education is important to the success of all Safe Environment Programs. You will have to complete refresher sessions and participate in regular training to promote and create safe environments for children and young people.

How often will I have to participate in training and undergo a criminal background check?

You will have to participate in training as it is offered and required by the Diocese. A criminal background check will be conducted on all church personnel at time of hire or for volunteers prior to initiation of volunteer service and in subsequent years.