Opening Prayer Lord Jesus, please cleanse and heal the Church and the world. Bring your peace to each suffering soul. Renew us and pour into us the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. Guardian Angels, pray for us and protect us.
Crisis and Opportunity The reality of sexual abuse that came to light in the Church in the early 2000s was both a crisis and an opportunity. – Although media treatment was unfair, even one case of abuse is unacceptable. – There was a need for soul searching, to see the deeper root of the problem. – Faithfulness to the full message of Jesus and the Church will always provide a Safe Environment. – We have an opportunity to discuss the truth and meaning of human sexuality and the proper way to form children, while at the same time working to prevent, recognize, and report any cases of the evil of child abuse.
Love and Responsibility Pope John Paul II taught frequently about the mystery of human sexuality and the need for true love and deep purity, entitling one of his famous works, “Love and Responsibility.” We can teach these truths by the way we live and the way that we carry on the ministry of Jesus within the parish. When the parish is reaching out to children with the mystery of faith, it is important that it does so in a context of love and responsibility.
Love We love others, because they are made in the image and likeness of God. We love God in them and them in God. Jesus is the full revelation of man to himself and makes us understand man’s true calling (GS 22) Every human person, from the moment of conception, shares this inviolable dignity and infinite worth. Jesus said, “whatever you do for the least of my brother and sisters, you do for me.”
Responsibility God made parents the primary formators and educators of their children. It is both their right and their duty to raise and teach their children. Parents choose to entrust the staff and volunteers of the parish with the dignity and innocence of their children, for specific times and purposes. It is not our mission to usurp the role of parents, but to assist them, and supplement the work that they do with their children. We are responsible for what we think, say, and do regarding the children to whom we minister. A careful plan should be in place for ministry with children, to both ensure their safety and to give them the best formation as young Catholics. “First do no harm.”
It Takes a Parish The parish can greatly assist the family in the Catholic upbringing of children. The parish is a place of belief, of mystery, of learning right from wrong, and of prayer. The volunteer or staff member should work with parish children, as a member of their family, in communication with parents, and aware of parental rights and responsibilities. The volunteer or staff member, however, should never shy away from teaching the fullness of the Faith to children, according to age level and appropriateness (some things are best reserved for discussion at home). The volunteer or staff member must understand that healthy boundaries are not simply a safeguard against liability, but a matter of Catholic morality and human responsibility.
Catholic Diocese of Evansville Best Practices for Pastoral Conduct (for Priests, Deacons, Pastoral Ministers, Administrators, Staff and Volunteers) Our children are the most important gifts God has entrusted to us. As one who works with children in any capacity, I promise to follow these best practices as a condition of my providing services to the children and youth of our diocese. I will Treat everyone with respect, loyalty, patience, integrity, courtesy, dignity, and consideration. Report any suspected abuse and neglect to the local Child Protection Services agency or civil authorities, then inform the appropriate supervisor and the bishop’s office. Cooperate fully in any investigation of abuse of children and/or youth. Participate fully in the required training sessions for adults working with children/ youth. Refrain from smoking or using tobacco products at any time while serving children and/or youth in parish or diocesan sponsored events. Refrain from using, possessing, or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs at any time while serving children and/or youth in parish or diocesan sponsored programs.
The Duty of Reporting Child Abuse Every parish has a Safe Environment Coordinator, who ensures that each staff member or volunteer who works with children has had a background check, and has been trained in and agreed to the guidelines contained in the Safe Environment Program. A parish volunteer or staff member must: Report any suspected abuse and neglect to the local Child Protection Services agency 1-800-800-5556 OR civil authorities, then inform the appropriate supervisor and the bishop’s office. Cooperate fully in any investigation of abuse of children and/or youth. Please share your suspicions first with the Safe Environment Coordinator (SEC) to make sure you are reading the signs correctly (unless you suspect the SEC himself, or if the SEC will not listen to a valid suspicion).
Faith and Awareness Children are all-too-often the target of violence and neglect. – Over 1,000,000 abortions yearly in our nation. – Statistics vary, but basically state that 1 in 4 children, male and female, will be abused at some point. – The media onslaught that destroys the values and innocence of young children. – Peer pressure, bullying, and other factors that are faced in schools, and often there is not enough well-organized or available supervision. As Catholics, we so value the dignity of each child, that we do not allow these factors to go unnoticed. We must bravely combat these evils, including the evil of child abuse. To do so, we must be aware of what child abuse is, and what its warning signs can be.
What is Child Abuse? Child abuse is physical or mental maltreatment, intentional injury, sexual misconduct, exploitation, or negligent treatment toward a person under the age of 18 (except in the case of sexual abuse, where age is specified by the child protection law of the State) by a person who is responsible for the child’s welfare*. * We are all responsible.
Remember LOGIC: The Scientific Method doesn’t work in reverse. Don’t affirm the consequent or deny the antecedent. Huh? TRUE – if it rains, my driveway will get wet. BUT, – Just because my driveway is wet doesn’t mean it’s raining. – Just because it’s not raining doesn’t mean my driveway’s not wet. TRUE – where child abuse occurs, there are normal signs. BUT, – Just because some things which are possible signs of abuse are there doesn’t mean it’s abuse. – Just because the signs of abuse aren’t there doesn’t mean it’s not abuse. The following warning signs are things that you may see, hear from a child, or overhear in conversation.
Physical Abuse: When an adult inflicts or allows infliction of physical injury by other than accidental means. Recognizing Physical Abuse (Possible Warning Signs): Physical Indicators – Bruises – Lacerations – Welts, lumps, bumps – Unexplained fractures – Burns-cigarette, immersion Emotional Indicators – Child verbalizes abuse – Fear of going home/punishment – Unusually neat – Overly mature – Withdrawn What to do? If you are not sure, speak with your supervisor as soon as possible. If you have a definite suspicion of abuse, follow the reporting procedures.
Is Discipline Abusive? Discipline which causes physical injuries that are not accidental is classified as child abuse (caused by striking with a hand, fist, or instrument, throwing, shaking, burning, suffocating, or drowning).
Normal Bruising vs. Suspicious Bruising It is normal to have bruises in places where children often fall down and get hurt. Bruises are suspicious when they happen in “soft spots,” in areas of the body that do not easily bruise or rarely come in contact with something that could bruise them (e.g. by falling on the floor).
Emotional Abuse: Mental/emotional harm inflicted by verbal harassment, threats, and systematic destruction of child’s self esteem. How to Recognize (Possible Warning Signs): Obesity Destructive Habits Sleep Problems Daydreams/Prefers fantasy over reality Maliciously violent behaviors toward animals / children Speech disorders Head-banging/Hair- pulling/Rocking) Hyperactivity Severely withdrawn Psychosomatic illness/Hypochondria Submissive/Apathetic Unable to make decisions Elimination problems Developmental lags Fear and anxiety Suicidal What to do? If you are not sure, speak with your supervisor as soon as possible. If you have a definite suspicion of abuse, follow the reporting procedures.
Neglect The chronic failure to meet the basic needs of a child in regards to food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, and/or supervision. How to Recognize (Possible Warning Signs): Physical Indicators – Lack of supervision – Lack of adequate clothing and hygiene – Lack of medical or dental care – Lack of adequate nutrition Behavioral Indicators – Development lags – Unresponsiveness – Constant fatigue – Apathetic – Substance abuse – Abandonment – Begging – School absences – Flat bald spot on infant’s head – Consistent hunger – Dirty, smelly – Torn, dirty or inappropriate clothing – Underweight What to do? If you are not sure, speak with your supervisor as soon as possible. If you have a definite suspicion of abuse, follow the reporting procedures.
Sexual Abuse Utilizing a child for sexual gratification by an adult (or older child in a position of power) or permitting another person to utilize a child for sexual gratification How to Recognize (Possible Warning Signs): Seductive behavior Artwork depicts sexual themes Self destructive behavior (suicide, cutting) Sleep disorders Running away Prostitution Any venereal disease Pregnancy Foreign matter in genitals Bruised or dilated genitals Recurrent urinary tract infection Difficulty /painful walking What to do? If you are not sure, speak with your supervisor as soon as possible. If you have a definite suspicion of abuse, follow the reporting procedures.
“See not that you despise one of these little ones…” Matt 18:10 Characteristics of those who abuse children: Seems unconcerned about the child. Sees the child as “bad,” “evil,” a “monster,” or “witch.” Offers illogical, unconvincing, contradictory explanations or have no explanation of the child’s injury. Attempts to conceal the child’s injury or to protect the identity of the person responsible. Routinely employs harsh, unreasonable discipline which is inappropriate to the child’s age, transgression, and condition. Were often abused as children. Were expected to meet high demands of their parents. Were unable to depend on their parents for love and nurturing. Cannot provide emotionally for themselves as adults. Expect their children to fill their emotional void. Have poor impulse control. Expect rejection. Have low self-esteem. Are emotionally immature. Are isolated, have no support system.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and mine know me.” John 10:14 Characteristics of those who neglect children. May have a chaotic home life. May live in unsafe conditions (no food; garbage and excrement in living areas; exposed wiring; drugs and poisons kept within the reach of children). May abuse drugs or alcohol. May be mentally retarded, have low IQ or have a flat personality. May be motivated and employed, but unable to find or afford child care. Generally have not experienced success. Had emotional needs which were not met by parents. Have low self-esteem. Have little motivation or skills to effect changes in their lives. Tend to be passive.
It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Luke 17:2 Characteristics of those who abuse children emotionally: Belittling/criticizing Little or no interest in child Threatening child or child’s possessions Cutting off child from normal social expression Teaching deviant patterns of behavior
“…who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves.” Matt 7:15 Characteristics of those who sexually abuse children: Refusal to take responsibility for actions and blames others or circumstances for failures A sense of entitlement Low self-esteem Need for power and control Lack of empathy Inability to form intimate relationships with adults History of abuse Troubled childhood Deviant sexual behavior and attitudes Often offend where they won’t get caught — when they have misdirected people’s attention Often married or in relationships Offend when the victim is handy Not always strangers, often family members, family friends and neighbors Most attracted to adults Good manipulators (seduction is an integral part) Overly self-indulgent Arrogant Sexualize, objectify women Users of various kinds of pornography Great helpers — are there to lend a helping hand — prey n people in need, when they can insinuate themselves in your life Use stressful and vulnerable situations to get in — they find a need they can fill and they use that to get next to the victim Notoriously friendly, nice, kind, engaging and likeable. Target their victims, often insinuating themselves into that child's life through their family, school, house of worship, sports, and hobbies. Professional con artists and are experts at getting children and families to trust them. Will smile at you, look you right in the eye and make you believe they are trustworthy.
God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4
Catholic Diocese of Evansville Youth are to be recognized and valued by all as true gifts from God. Education and training to recognize the signs of violation of children and young people shall be provided to all paid staff members, volunteers engaged in ministry to and for children, and parents. Education shall be provided for children about the potential for abuse, especially sexual abuse, and ways to respond should they be victims of it. Paid staff members and volunteers who have regular contact with children in the course of their work shall be evaluated so as to determine their suitability for association with children and young people. Paid staff members and volunteers shall accept responsibility to report immediately any suspected acts of abuse of children and young people in their charge to appropriate civil and church authorities without concern for retribution from the accused or employers/institutions in whose name they minister.
The expectation is that all who are willing to engage in ministry to children and young people as representatives of the Catholic Diocese of Evansville are also willing to agree to background checks and educational programs designed to stem this heinous crime against children and young people. The Catholic Diocese of Evansville will expend resources, both in personnel and finances, necessary to fulfill this vision and to maintain such programs appropriate to accomplish this vision. Primary components of a framework to accomplish this task include the items listed below. At the outset, we recognize that we are on a difficult and ambitious journey, hence this is a living document.
Diocesan Policies 1. Best Practices for Adults working with children and youth. 2. Directives for supervisors engaged in ministry to children and young people.
Curriculum and resources for education on personal safety for children, young people, families and ministers Criminal background checks on all paid staff and volunteers who have regular contact with children or youth, for which the parish/institution pays the fee. REPORT AND INFORM: In the event of al allegation of sexual abuse of a minor (a person under 18) by diocesan personnel, report the allegation to authorities and inform the Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese. – Toll free: (866) 200-3004 – Local: (812) 490-9565
Two-Deep Leadership Two approved adult leaders or one approved leader and a parent of a participant, both of whom must be 21 years of age or older, are required for all parish approved youth activities. The parish is responsible ensuring that sufficient leadership is provided for all activities. “Approved” means that the Pastor knows the person and approves him or her AND the person has submitted to a criminal history background check.
No one-on-one contact One-on-one contact between adults and youth is not permitted. In the rare situations that require personal conferences, the meeting is to be conducted in view of other adults and youths. NOTE: Professional Mental Health Counselors, who are required to follow the Ethical Code of their professional discipline, State licensing requirements, and State legislation regulating professional conduct, may conduct one-on-one private counseling. The term “professional mental health counselor”, as used herein, means a person with a master’s degree in a recognized mental health discipline, who is licensed or supervised by a licensed professional, and is employed by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Evansville or is officially approved by the Catholic Education Office to provide services on school premises.
Respect of privacy Adult leaders must respect the privacy of youth and intrude only to the extent that health and safety require. Adults must protect their own privacy in similar situations.
Separate accommodations When staying overnight, no youth is permitted to sleep in the room of an adult other than his or her own parent or guardian.
Proper preparation for high adventure activities Activities with elements of risk should never be undertaken without proper preparation, equipment, clothing, competent supervision, and safety measures.
No secret organizations The Catholic Diocese of Evansville does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program. All aspects of the youth program are open to observation by pastors, parents, and leaders. Even in cases of closed membership (i. e. TEC, Knights of Columbus Squire Circles, etc.) parents and pastors MUST be admitted at any time to observe the program.
Appropriate attire Proper clothing for activities is required. Modest dress is always required. Guidelines for appropriate attire for a given activity should be written and stated before all youth functions.
Constructive discipline Discipline used in youth ministry, educational, and catechetical ministry should be constructive and reflect the Church’s values. Corporal punishment is never permitted.
Hazing is prohibited Physical hazing and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any activity. Adult leaders must monitor and guide the leadership techniques used by youth leaders and ensure that diocesan policies are followed.
Review Dignity of the Human Person: Each Child Children and their families The role of the parish The dangers facing children Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse Diocesan Policies Two-deep leadership No one-on-one contact Respect for privacy Separate accommodations Proper preparation for high adventure No secret organizations Appropriate attire Constructive discipline Hazing is prohibited
Closing Prayer Lord Jesus, you have called little children to come to you. We pray in reparation for the sins of abuse committed against your Sacred Heart. Make us as innocent as little children, and form in your Church a people that is pleasing to You, Who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!