A FRAMEWORK FOR THE PROTECTION OF YOUTH
In June 2011, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a revised Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The revised Charter modified the definition of sexual abuse of a minor to include: 1) those persons who habitually lack the use of reason and 2) the acquisition, possession, or distribution by a cleric of pornographic images of minors under the age of eighteen, for purposes of sexual gratification, by whatever means or using whatever technology. The charter addresses the Church's commitment to deal appropriately and effectively with cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests, deacons, and other church personnel (i.e., employees and volunteers). Therefore, to ensure that each diocese/eparchy in the United States of America will have procedures in place to respond promptly to all allegations of sexual abuse of minors, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops decreed Essential Norms for diocesan/eparchial policies dealing with allegations of sexual abuse of minors by diocesan and religious priests or deacons.
In June of 2012, the National Review Board
released a report to bishops and the faithful to highlight both what has been
done and what is still needed to be done to protect children and restore trust.
The report is titled,
A Ten Year Progress Report.
The Diocese of Evansville has been working with parents, civil authorities, educators, and various organizations in the community to make and maintain the safest environment for minors. The vision for our diocese is one wherein:
- youth are recognized and valued by all as true
gifts from God;
- education and training to recognize the signs of violation of children and young people is provided to all paid staff
members, those volunteers engaged in ministry to and for children, and parents; (see training dates below)
- education is provided for children about the potential for abuse, especially sexual abuse, and ways to respond
should they be victims of it; (safe environment curriculum for schools; curriculum for religious education)
- all paid staff and those volunteers who have regular contact with children are evaluated to determine
their suitability for association with children and young people;
- paid staff and volunteers 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/institution in whose name they minister;
- all who are willing to engage in ministry to children and young people as representative 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;
- the primary components of a framework to accomplish this task include the items listed below:
◦ Diocesan Policies
◦ Best Practices for Adults working with Children and Young People
◦ 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 those volunteers who have regular
contact with children or youth, for which the parish/institution pays the fee.
Our framework is another step in the ongoing efforts to protect young people in the Diocese of Evansville. In 1995 the following two documents were promulgated: Policy for Handling Accusations of Abuse, and Guidelines for Identifying and Reporting Child Abuse.
In August of 2002,
Policies and Procedures
Regarding Clerical Sexual Misconduct with Minors was promulgated in
accord with the Essential Norms of the Charter. This policy provided for the
establishment of a Review Board, a
Review Administrator/Victim Assistance Coordinator, and a Promoter of Justice. On August 20, 2003, Policies and Procedures Regarding Sexual Misconduct with Minors was promulgated. This policy expanded the 2002 policy to include all diocesan personnel, not just clergy. The term diocesan personnel is defined in the document as all ordained and non-ordained ministers, employees, and volunteers who provide services, paid or unpaid, for the Diocese or any of its entities.
The members of the Review Board are Chairperson, Mrs. Shawn Eickhoff; social worker, Mrs. Charlene Bitter; Reverend Anthony Ernst; Mrs. Bonnie Graham; Anthony Schapker, M.D., and Thomas Wedding. The Victim Assistance Coordinator is clinical psychologist, Dr. Rebecca Luzio; the Care Reviewer is Catholic Charities; and the Promoter of Justice is Reverend Kenneth Walker, judicial vicar.
In 1997 the Catholic Schools Office began conducting criminal background checks for all newly hired administrators and teachers. Effective immediately, ALL paid employees and those volunteers who have regular contact with youth will be required to submit to background checks. Currently, over 13,000 employees and volunteers, including the bishop, all priests, deacons, and seminarians have submitted to a criminal history check.
DIOCESAN POLICY: REPORT AND INFORM
The Diocese of Evansville has in place a policy that requires that any allegation of child abuse must be reported to civil authorities. If an allegation involves the sexual abuse of a minor by diocesan personnel, the Victim Assistance Coordinator must also be informed.
Sexual misconduct violates human dignity and the mission of the church. The spiritual well-being of all victims, their families, and others in the community is of particular concern to the church.
Report Child Abuse
Every allegation of child abuse must be reported to Child Protection Services, an agency of Indiana state government,
(800) 800-5556. Local law enforcement agencies should also be contacted by calling 9-1-1.
Report and Inform
In the event of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor (a person under 18) by diocesan personnel, the allegation must be reported to civil authorities (800) 800-5556 and 911; the Victim Assistance Coordinator must also be informed, so that certain diocesan procedures may be performed as specified. Contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator at (812) 490-9565 or toll-free (866) 200-3004.
Política Diocesana: Informe y denuncie
La Diócesis de Evansville tiene en
práctica una política que requiere que cualquier acusación de abuso de un menor
debe ser reportada a las autoridades civiles. Si una acusación involucra abuso
sexual de un menor de edad por parte de personal diocesano, el Coordinador
Diocesano de Asistencia para las Víctimas también debe ser informado.
La mala conducta sexual viola la dignidad humana y la misión de la iglesia. El bienestar espiritual de todas las víctimas, de sus familias, y de otros en la comunidad es una preocupación especial para la iglesia.
Denuncie e informe
En caso de una acusación del abuso sexual de un menor de edad (persona menor de 18 años) por personal diocesano, es la política de la diócesis de Evansville reportar la acusación a las autoridades públicas e informar al Coordinador Diocesano de Asistencia para las Víctimas. Gratis: (866) 200-3004; Local: (812) 490-9565
Scheduled Training Dates on Safe Environment Program:
(Please contact the parish/school to register so they will have enough materials prepared.)
To view a power point presentation on the Diocese of Evansville Framework for Youth Protection, please click here.
Good Touch/Bad Touch power point presentation (preK-3)
Just Say No to Bullying power point presentation (K-3)
Healthy Choices--Healthy Relationships power point presentation (6-12)
Other resources that would be helpful can be found at www.take25.org and www.netsmartz.org.
Form for Reporting Numbers of Religious Education Students who have received safe environment training.
Form for Reporting Numbers of Catholic Schools Students who have received safe environment training.