|Safe Environment Program Overview|
Diocese of Charlotte Safe Environment Program Overview
We as the Church must foster in every person the belief and awareness that as a child of God they are deserving of love and respect. Just as the shepherd looks after his sheep, we ask that the Good Shepherd to guide us as we care for and protect the most vulnerable among us.
In 2002, the bishops of the United States issued the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The charter addressed the Church's commitment to respond effectively, appropriately and compassionately to cases of abuse of minors by priests, deacons or other church personnel.
In August 2010, the Diocese of Charlotte underwent an audit conducted by the Gavin Group, an agency contracted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to ascertain and document the progress made by dioceses in the United States in the implementation of the charter. The audit included the period of July 2009 through June 2010. At the compliance audit's conclusion, the Diocese of Charlotte was found to be compliant with all articles of the charter.
The Diocese of Charlotte's safe environment program includes four components: effective policies for the protection of children, appropriate screening of employees and volunteers, education for adults and children about ways to make and maintain a safe environment for children and young people, and procedures for reporting concerns to the proper authorities.
The Policy of the Diocese of Charlotte Concerning Ministry-Related Sexual Misconduct by Church Personnel establishes the requirements for reporting abuse, screening of employees and volunteers, procedures when allegations are made, education, media and communications guidelines, and sanctions for non-compliance. The Code of Ethics Policy of the Diocese of Charlotte, which was updated in July 2009, identifies acceptable behavior that is legal, professional and responsible. It includes clear standards of behavior and appropriate boundaries for those in positions of trust who have regular contact with children.
The Protecting God's Children program helps adults learn to recognize the warning signs of abuse and teaches the appropriate ways to respond to suspicious behavior. The program also helps raise awareness of child sexual abuse by helping adults become aware of its consequences. This includes the many ways that sexual abuse harms victims, their families, parishes, and communities.
To date, more than 24,000 employees and volunteers have attended this training at over 1,000 workshops held throughout the diocese. During this past fiscal year, approximately 2,800 diocesan personnel attended training sessions.
The diocese also recognizes its responsibility to safeguard the young and the vulnerable through adequate screening of clergy, religious, employees and volunteers. In the past year, 4,082 background checks were processed.
Information regarding the reporting of suspected abuse is available on the diocesan website and is disseminated in the diocesan newspaper.
Our diocese has a Victim Assistance Coordinator to assist victims of sexual abuse, whether the abuse took place in the Diocese of Charlotte or in another diocese. In 1995, the diocese established a Review Board to serve as a confidential consultative body to the Bishop. The board reviews cases of sexual abuse that are reported to the diocese.
These activities represent a significant commitment by the diocese to provide a safe environment for our children and young people. The cost of the various programs and measures outlined herein totaled $82,993 during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010.
During this year, the diocese provided financial assistance to, or on behalf of victims, totaling $15,275, all of which was for counseling. The diocese also incurred costs in connection with a sexual misconduct lawsuit totaling $250,000. As in the past, none of these funds came from the Diocesan Support Appeal or from parish savings.
Child sexual abuse is a pervasive societal problem. Our response as a diocese will always be one of sincere compassion in addressing the personal, psychological and spiritual needs of the people God entrusts to our care. Jesus the Good Shepherd is our model as we continue to do all that we can to protect and nurture our children and young people.