A safe environment protects our children from harm, including sexual abuse and child molestation. It allows them to feel confident and secure in the classroom and at church.
The National Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a landmark document announced by the U.S. Conference of Bishops in 2002. The document is a response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Church and is their "Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal."
Article 12 of the Charter mandates that all dioceses and parishes establish safe environment programs to help protect children from sexual abuse and child molestation. It will make clear to clergy and all members of the community the standards of conduct for clergy and other persons in positions of trust with regard to sexual abuse. This guideline is the basis for the Diocese of Springfield's safe environment program.
How the Diocese of Springfield Is Responding
The Diocese has instituted several policies towards that goal. These include:
A code of conduct for employees and volunteers who work with children and youth, is outlined in the Policy Against Sexual Misconduct for Lay Employees and Volunteers. This code makes clear what acceptable behavior is and the standards of conduct regarding sexual abuse and harassment.
A code of conduct for clergy and religious leaders who work with children and youth, outlined in the Policy Against Sexual Misconduct for Clergy and Religious Personnel. This code makes clear what acceptable behavior is and the standards of conduct regarding sexual abuse and harassment.
Background checks on all adults who have regular and consistent contact with minors.
Special training programs for all adults who work with minors, including priests, ministers, educators, church personnel, parents and volunteers. They are briefed on preventing, identifying, responding to and reporting child abuse.