Safe Environment

Dear Friends,

A parishioner not too long ago shared with me that he had just attended the Archdiocesan mandated Child Protection program in order to become a volunteer leader with our Cub Scouts. He was extremely impressed with the videos and presentations of the Virtus program he attended. He felt the information to be not only informative but also open, honest and forthright. He shared that it also gave concrete proof of just how much effort the Catholic Church is putting into Child Protection. We all want a safe environment for everyone, especially for our children. This parishioner affirmed that this is indeed what the Church is doing and he thought it should be shared more broadly.

In the Spring/Summer of 2016, we shared a lot of information with our parish community about the Church’s efforts in this regard due to possible legislation that was pending at the time in Harrisburg. Perhaps in the flood of information and the focus on the pros and cons of that particular legislation, all that the Church currently does to protect children was somehow lost in translation. It is more than obvious that the secular media has been hesitant to focus on the honest effort, which the Church is taking and has taken over these years.

Perhaps you will find the following information helpful and of interest. Did you know that all people working in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, including volunteers, undergo background checks and child abuse clearances. This requirement is in place whether or not the employees and volunteers work with minors. All employees and volunteers attend Safe Environment training programs, as well as Mandated Reporter training programs. All young people in grades K-12 receive age-appropriate abuse prevention education. All employees and volunteers who have regular contact with children are required to report suspicions of child abuse.

There are over 280 designated Safe Environment Coordinators working in our parishes, schools, and other ministries serving young people to ensure compliance with laws and policies. Over 92,000 adults have received training to recognize, respond to, and report child abuse since 2003. Nearly 30,000 adults have received mandatory reporter training. Over 100,000 children have received age-appropriate abuse prevention education. The Archdiocese has invested over $2.4 million in education and training since 2006. The Archdiocese has a zero tolerance policy in regards to anyone who engages in misconduct with a child and takes immediate action when an accusation is reported. The Archdiocese continues to provide support and help to survivors of sexual child abuse and their families no matter who committed the crime against them or when the crime occurred. This includes making available counseling, providing medication, eliminating barriers to travel and childcare, and providing vocational assistance and other forms of support to men, women, children and families. And this offer of help is not limited.

Here at Saint Eleanor, we have over 550 volunteers and staff who currently have gone through this process to ensure that we do all we can to provide a safe environment. We are grateful for the willing cooperation of our people who realize the vital necessity of these processes.

No one wants anyone to suffer, especially no one to suffer the devastating effects of child sexual abuse. It is horrendous beyond imagination. It is a difficult topic to discuss. But it is good to know that the Church has made so much

progress, is so totally committed to education and training, and is so committed to the care and healing of anyone who has suffered.

God bless you, God love you,

Monsignor McCulken

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