OFFICE OF SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Overview of VIRTUS Protecting God's Children and vulnerable Adults

Who is required to complete sexual abuse awareness training?

All Archdiocesan employees and adult volunteers who deal with children on a regular basis are required to attend an intense 3-hour training session that deals with child sexual abuse. In addition, all priests and deacons are required to attend the training.

It is the policy of the Archdiocese that volunteers who are with children should complete the VIRTUS training before they begin their ministry, or within 30 days from the time they begin. Employees should complete the training as part of the employment process. Only volunteers and employees who have had the training and a background check should be working with children.

How is the training helpful in protecting children?

The key points that are critical for the participant to be aware of after attending a training session are:

  • Child sexual abuse can happen anywhere to anyone.
  • Abuse is devastating to a child and sometimes the scars of abuse can last a lifetime.
  • Child molesters look for jobs or volunteer opportunities that give them access to children.
  • Leaders in the Catholic Church are working to make sure that children are safe from sexual abuse everywhere.
  • We must be aware of what is happening in the lives of our own children.
  • This program is offered every year in every grade, in both our religious education program and Catholic Schools throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford
  • We must be aware of the warning signs of abuse in our children.
  • We can create a safer world for our children when we work together as a Catholic community.

What does the training entail?

An awareness session is facilitated by a trained volunteer who has devoted their time and talents to visit parishes and schools to present the program to teachers, catechists, clergy, parish staff, volunteers, etc. The three-hour presentation consists of two videos; the first one deals with interviews of four actual victims of child sexual abuse and two convicted perpetrators. After viewing the films, the facilitator conducts an in-depth discussion within the group. The participants are given the opportunity to discuss their emotions, concerns, questions, etc. The program is designed to bring about an acute awareness of how child sexual abuse can occur, the effects of abuse on the child, the mode of operation of the perpetrator, and what we can do to prevent child sexual abuse in our environment.

How many people have been trained?

As of June 30, 2011, more than 26,000 people have been trained since September, 2003. This number includes priests, deacons, seminarians, parish employees, diocesan employees, and adult volunteers who work with children or the elderly. In addition, 31,000 background check investigations have been performed. This report does not include diocesan school employees who are trained and fingerprinted by the Archdiocesan School Office.

Where and when are training sessions held?

Awareness training sessions called Protecting God’s Children for Adults are being held across the Archdiocese by VIRTUS trained facilitators. To view a schedule of training sessions for the Archdiocese of Hartford, click here. Select Hartford, CT (Archdiocese) from the drop-down list. You also will be able to pre-register for a training session at that time.

How do I register for a training session?

You can also pre-register on-line for Protecting God’s Children for Adults by visiting the VIRTUS website www.virtus.org and select Registration. Then select View a List of Sessions, and then select Hartford, CT (Archdiocese). You will then receive the most current schedule of upcoming sessions. To pre-register, click on Start Registration and type in a user id and password. Next, just click on Continue to complete the registration process.

All members of the clergy, parish employees, and adult volunteers must pre-register online. If you are unable to pre-register online, please contact Kathleen Nowosadko at 860-541-6491 for further assistance.

Contact Information:
Kathleen Nowosadko
Safe Environment Director
Archdiocese of Hartford
860-541-6491
knowosadko@aohct.org

Overview of Child Lures Prevention Program

The Child Lures Prevention Program was created by Kenneth Wooden in 1985, and is used in numerous dioceses, as well as in public schools and other safety programs across the country.

  • It is a child safety program, training for prevention of sexual exploitation, abduction, Internet crime, drugs and school violence.
  • It deals with teaching children about the dignity of all people and the dangers that are contrary to that central Catholic belief.
  • It presents a balanced perspective, repeatedly assuring children that the vast majority of educators, clergy and other adults are sincerely committed to the happiness and well-being of children and would not take advantage of them. Those who prey on children are the exception.
  • The Child Lures School Program consists of a Presenter’s Guide, with easy-to-follow lesson plans, follow-up activities, and tools for parent involvement. There is a Presenter’s Video to assist the presenter in preparing his/her presentations; a Student Video with four scenarios to allow students to visualize just how easily they might be lured into victimization. Lastly, there is a Parent Guide, available in English and Spanish, which may be ordered by the parish.
  • The Program is age-appropriate, with lesson plans for each level
  • Parents are encouraged to participate, wherever possible.

Contact information:
Office of Safe Environment
860-541-6491

Kathleen D. Nowosadko
Director of Safe Environment
knowosadko@aohct.org

Sister Dolores Lahr
Coordinator of Safe Environment
Victim Assistance Coordinator
srdlahr@aohct.org

Kimberlee Donahue
Coordinator of Safe Environment
kdonahue@aohct.org

 

Archdiocese of Hartford · 134 Farmington Avenue Hartford, CT 06105 · 860-541-6491 · fax: 860-541-6309