Safeguard the Children is a program which develops and maintains a safe environment within the Church, the School, and Church / School-sponsored activities for children and young people and aims to prevent sexual abuse of minors in these settings.
In 2002, the United States Catholic Congress of Bishops published the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The purpose of the Charter was to “make effective the goals of a safe environment within the Church for children and young people and to prevent sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the future.”
The Charter was revised in 2005 and reiterated the commitment to: (1) Promote Healing and Reconciliation with Victims/Survivors of Sexual Abuse of Minors, (2) Ensure Accountability of Procedures and (3) Protect the Faithful in the Future. The Charter includes a series of practical and pastoral steps to be carried out in all dioceses and parishes. The creation of a Safeguard the Children Committee is a non-optional action required of each parish, as reflected in the September 2002 letter to Pastors and Parish Leaders from His Eminence Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles.
The Safeguard the Children Committee is appointed by the Pastor and must be representative of volunteer members and staff of the parish or school. Membership includes the Pastor or Associate Pastor, School Principal or Vice-Principal, the Director of Religious Education, the Youth Minister, the Confirmation Coordinator, and Pre-School Coordinator.
The Safeguard the Children Committee Goals are to: (1) Collect and inform all parish personnel, committees, ministries and volunteers of the available resources for “Safeguard the Children,” (2) Inform all parish groups of the Archdiocesan policies and guidelines on reporting child abuse and neglect, (3) Encourage all parish groups to educate their constituencies on all aspects of child abuse and neglect, for example identification, reporting laws, prevention and programs.
Education and Training Programs including VIRTUS “Protecting All God’s Children Awareness Sessions for Adults,” Children’s Training, Background Checks and Fingerprinting of all who work directly with children, and Parish Audits are among the mandates of the Safeguard the Children Program. For more information on the Charter and the Safeguard the Children Program, please visit the Archdiocese of Los Angeles website.