Though the Diocese has had a safe environment program in one form or another in place since 1998, I take this opportunity to re-promulgate and reiterate as official diocesan policy our current safe environment program.
All elements of our diocesan safe environment program have been in place for some time. All of these elements are required by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth, and the essential norms deriving from the Charter. More specifically, the diocesan safe environment program consists of the following component parts:
All parts of our diocesan program are in full compliance with the USCCB’s Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, and I direct that they continue to be fully implemented, in each parish, school and agency of this diocese.
Finally, we will continue to evaluate all of the components of the safe environment program. Whenever changes are called for, or improvements are possible, we will strive to implement them expeditiously. Thank you for your cooperation in this most important area of concern.
Sincerely in Our Lord,
Most Reverend Victor Galeone
Bishop of Saint Augustine
March 28, 2009
In the Diocese of St. Augustine, the SAFETY education of children and youth is accomplished by way of one of the two following programs:
The Touching Safety Program lesson plans and the Children & Youth Personal Safety Program lesson plans are available on the Diocese of St. Augustine web site, http://www.dosafl.com click on the Safe Environment Programs link at the bottom of the Home Page.
Either the Touching Safety Program or the Children & Youth Personal Safety Program is a mandatory part of each parish religious education and youth program for children and youth who do not attend Catholic schools. One or the other program is also a required part of the curriculum in all Catholic schools in the diocese. A parish or school may implement either of these programs.
The Church has always believed that the parent is the first and best teacher of their child, not only in the ways of the faith, but in the affairs of the world as well. Thus, if a parent believes that any or all of the lesson plans of the Touching Safety Program are in any way, or for any reason inappropriate for their child, the parent may opt their child out of any of the Touching Safety lessons.
If the parent opts their child out of a lesson, the parent will be directed to the opt-out lesson plan on the internet (or be provided with a copy of the lesson plan), and will be asked to consider going over the contents of the lesson plan with their child, or at least discussing the general issues addressed in the lesson plan with their child. This must be done in parishes by way of a letter from the pastor (or DRE), and in schools by way of a letter from the principal. This is a USCCB Office of Children & Young People requirement. To assure this opt-out opportunity, the parish religious education program and school will provide the parent with:
As the Children & Youth Personal Safety Program focuses strictly on personal safety within the context of Catholic moral theology, there is no opt-out provision for this program. It is an integral part of the doctrinal and moral teachings of the faith.
The opt-out form should be returned to the religious education teacher. The teacher will make sure that the form is given to the parish DRE or school principal, who will insure that all opt-out forms are maintained on file in the parish DRE’s office, school office, or elsewhere as directed by the pastor or principal. Opt-out files are subject to review by the diocese and by the USCCB safe environment program auditors.
Checks & Counter-Checks. The final part of the diocesan effort involves concrete actions to prevent unsafe conditions from ever arising, and to spot potential existing unsafe circumstances before any harm can be done. This part of the diocesan program involves:
The Personnel Screening Policy of the Diocese of St. Augustine; Diocesan policy states that “All Church Personnel shall allow an inquiry into their background to assess whether any reason exists that would suggest the person is not suitable for the position sought. Such background investigation may include, but shall not be limited to: a fingerprint screening through state or national law enforcement, and documented reference checks of at least three (3) individuals who are not family members.”
With this in mind, and desiring to err on the side of safety, the following specific requirements regarding certain covered volunteers are in place: