Abuse awareness training set
Workers and volunteers who spend time with children will take the four-hour training
By Renae Bauer
The Green Bay Diocese will host informational sessions on sexual
abuse prevention from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. May 28, June 5, 6, 9 and
12 in conference room 1 of Bosco Hall on the diocesan campus, 1825
Riverside Dr., Green Bay. Sessions will be held on a separate day
at Camp Tekawitha for its staff members.
Dates and times for additional sessions will be announced this fall and throughout the coming school year as they are scheduled.
Each session provides general information about child sexual
abuse, what are the typical warning signs and how to respond
appropriately. All priests, parish personnel, Catholic school
administrators and teachers, diocesan employees and volunteers who
have contact with children are required to attend one session. This
is mandated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and is
required by the diocese to comply with national standards adopted
Register at least three business days before the session you
wish to attend by phoning (920)437-7531 or toll-free,
1-877-500-3580, ext. 8272 or e-mail [email protected].
The nearly 3,000 workers and volunteers who spend time with
children in Catholic churches and schools in Northeastern Wisconsin
can expect to attend a mandatory informational session this
The Green Bay Diocese is beginning a new program, "Protecting
God's Children," to raise general knowledge about sexual abuse, its
warning signs, the opportunities perpetrators look for, and how to
eliminate such opportunities.
The initiative began last month with two sessions attended by
176 parish leaders. This summer and fall, priests, parish
personnel, Catholic school administrators and teachers, diocesan
employees and volunteers will attend the four-hour awareness and
While the diocese has had a sexual abuse policy since the 1980s,
it did not require formal instruction of adults who have contact
with children. But last June, the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops (USCCB) approved the document "Promise to Protect, Pledge
to Heal," requiring all U.S. dioceses to comply with new national
standards that include instruction on how to make and maintain a
safe environment for children.
The"Protecting God's Children" program being used in the Green
Bay Diocese includes two videos that present data, testimonies of
survivors and interviews with convicted molesters to prove that
abuse can happen anywhere and to anyone if the perpetrator has the
Each video is followed by group discussions and workbook
questions to reinforce the information from the videos. The
materials were produced by the National Catholic Risk Retention
Group Inc. in Lisle, Ill., for its Virtus series.
Karen Johnston, diocesan director of Catholic Charities and one
of the leaders who ensured 18 diocesan employees were properly
trained to lead "Protecting God's Children" workshops, said the
Virtus materials are good.
"It's a classic view of the victim telling his or her own story
and, perhaps, more frightening is hearing child molesters telling
how easy it was," Johnston said.
Process started 4 years ago
Fr. Bob Kroll, diocesan consultant for Educational Leadership
and one of 18 diocesan trainers, said the process for adapting the
Virtus series began nearly four years ago after the bishops asked
for an increase in people's awareness.
"This (program) is a response to a call to be proactive," he
Perhaps the most compelling data presented in the workshop
concerns the numbers of people who are abused: 1 of every 4 women
and 1 of every 8 men. Kevin Miller, clinical supervisor for
Catholic Charities, says that as astounding as these statistics
are, they have been relatively consistent for the last 10 years.
Indeed, he said, it is widely believed that there are more victims
than are reported.
Includes web-based resource
Virtus materials include a web-based resource, Virtus Online, an
ongoing and supplemental program for those who participated in
"Protecting God's Children" program. It also is a way to determine
who has and has not completed the required sessions.
Johnston said Virtus Online will play an important role since it
shows that the diocese has instructed people who work with children
and that these people are continuing to be educated so they qualify
for recertification each year.
Nationally, dioceses are required to use such programs by June
20. The National Review Board will monitor compliance with the
"Promise to Protect" in the coming months and years through a
series of on-site visits and reports each diocese is to complete.
The "Promise to Protect" includes the Charter for the Protection of
Children and Young People, the Essential Norms, the decree of
Recognitio (recognition from Rome), and the statement of Episcopal
Bishops approved charter
The U.S. bishops overwhelmingly approved the charter and norms
last June in Dallas at a three-day meeting where they heard from
victims, their families, experts on sexual abuse, the impact of
abuse on survivors, and from Catholic laity.
The charter is the U.S. bishops' definitive response to concerns
about sexual abuse of minors by clergy. Article 12 of the charter
calls on each diocese to "cooperate with parents, civil
authorities, educators and community organizations to provide
education and training for children, youth, parents, ministers,
educators, and others about ways to make and maintain a safe
environment for children."