Each year child and youth-serving organizations, including Catholic dioceses, participate in National Child Abuse Prevention Month to raise awareness of and to highlight the importance of protecting minors. April has been designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States since 1983. During the month, the Diocese of Palm Beach is highlighting its year-round awareness programs and also reiterating its commitment to help survivors and their families, as well as its commitment to fostering a culture of a safe environment for children, young people and vulnerable adults.
In observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness month, the Diocese of Palm Beach Office of Safe Environments invites individuals, groups, ministries, schools, and parishes to show their support against child abuse by participating in a special event to raise awareness and start a discussion about Child Safety. Events might include wearing blue on a designated day, creating a slogan, planting blue pinwheels, tying blue ribbons outdoors, holding a prayer service or training class, and praying the Healing Prayer daily.
|View our Safe Environments page|
|View resources & parenting tips|
The diocesan Office of Safe Environments provides guidance, education and training to its employees, all Church personnel and volunteers. This involves Background Screening, VIRTUS Training and providing resources to keep children, young people and vulnerable adults safe -- in the real world and the electronic world. The education programs which emphasize preventions are designed to provide personal-safety and awareness programs to youth and adults, especially the parents.
Nationally, well more than 2.5 million people active in the church – clergy, vowed religious, lay ministers, teachers, coaches, administrators, volunteers and parishioners – have been trained to recognize and respond to signs of inappropriate behavior, thus preventing abuse. In the Diocese of Palm Beach since 2002, more than 35,000 clergy, religious and lay people have been through the background screening process, and more than 35,000 have completed the training of the VIRTUS “Protecting God’s Children” workshop. The VIRTUS training is designed to give participants the tools they need to protect children and combat abuse. Additionally, every five years those who have been background screened are screened again.
VIRTUS Workshops are for those who work with or come in contact with young people as well as any adults wishing to attend. The schedule is listed on the diocesan website along with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Code of Conduct. The website also lists programs and workshops the diocesan Office of Safe Environments provides to vulnerable populations to keep them safe. There are parental tips on the internet, social media, texting, and more. Those interested in more information or attending a workshop may visit www.diocesepb.org/safe-environments or call the diocesan Office of Safe Environments at 561-775-9500.
Additionally the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has similar information on its website with more resources, videos and information for parents. You can find it at www.usccb.org Look under the Issues and Action button and then select from the drop down menu Child & Youth Protection.
The USCCB established in June 2002 the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a comprehensive set of procedures to address allegations of sexual abuse and to prevent future abuse. All 198 dioceses and archdioceses in the U.S. (100%) have adopted the bishop’s charter.
Each year the USCCB conducts an audit of every diocese to ensure they are following the guidelines of the Bishops’ Charter and its own diocesan policies. The Diocese of Palm Beach is audited every year (13 times to date) and has been found in complete compliance each time. The Diocese has even received commendations for some of the innovative things initiated in this area of creating a safe environment for young people and vulnerable adults.
Since 2002, the Catholic Church in the U.S. has taken proactive measures to protect youth and vulnerable adults, and continues to refine its policies and commitment to foster a safe environment and prevent child abuse. The Catholic Church in the U.S. has the strongest measures in the world in place for protecting children and young people, making the Catholic Church a leader in comprehensive programs for prevention of and response to sexual abuse.
Safe environment training for children and adults, background checks and a zero tolerance for sexual abuse are mandates. The measures include:
The Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach encompasses the five counties of Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee. Comprised of 225,749 Catholics in 53 parishes and missions, the Diocese also serves the faithful community through its elementary, middle and high schools.