I have just been informed that the US bishops’ conference’s Office of Child and Youth Protection has sent out a four-page memo to all US dioceses. Here are the highlights, but if you can’t be bothered to read them, here it is in a nutshell: “We know the Church has an inconvenient teaching that parents are primary educators of their children and another inconvenient teaching that children’s innocence is to be protected from undue instruction in sexual matters, but some parents are just too stupid to raise their children the way we say they should and, besides, when you weigh the cost of legal settlements versus the innocence of children it’s not even close.”
Here’s the long version from Teresa M. Kettlekamp, directer of the USCCB’s OCYC (whose contact information is at the end of this post), beginning with �All children must receive arch/diocesan/eparchial safe environment training� under pain of the issuance of a �Required Action� for non-compliance. Here are some excerpts from the four-page memo:
�Some arch/dioceses/eparchies have been using a form of safe environment training for children that is not acceptable.
�� any such training programs for children which are totally left to the parents and are not conducted as a regular part of a school or religious education program, curriculum or classroom work and overseen by the arch/diocese/eparchy will not satisfy the requirements of Article 12 of the Charter. This will result in the issuing of a Required Action to the arch/diocese/eparchy to provide safe environment training to children as required under Article 12. Not to do so will be considered noncompliance.
�All children must receive arch/diocesan/eparchial safe environment training. The only exception to this requirement is for the public school religion students who receive safe environment training as part of their regular public school curriculum.
�A parent can refuse to allow their child to participate in the arch/diocesan/eparchial, but this must be done on a case-by-case basis, and four conditions must be met. These conditions are:
Arch/diocesan/eparchial training must be offered to the child.
Arch/diocesan/eparchial safe environment materials must be provided to the parents for the safe environment training of their child.
The parent must specifically state in writing: (1) that safe environment training was offered to their child, (2) that they refused to allow their children to participate in this training, and (3) that they have received safe environment training materials for their child.
This document must be maintained by the arch/diocese/eparchy to ensure full accountability concerning the safe environment training of every child.
�Some have argued that since the parents are the primary educators of their children, they should decide whether and how their children should receive such sensitive information. Both I and the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People agree that parents are to be the primary educators of their children and have the right to refuse the safe environment training by the Church.
�It is a sad fact today that some parents are unable or unwilling to provide the educational support essential for the safety of their children. Moreover, there is the tragic reality that child and sexual abuse oftentimes takes place in the home. The full cooperation of all the parents in the training offered by the Church sends a strong message that all adults are responsible for the safety of our children and that we as adults are committed to seeing that every child receives age-appropriate information for their protection.
�I also take this occasion to dispel an unfortunate misunderstanding and characterization of safe environment training. Since its mandate was the result of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, some have incorrectly concluded that this training is sex education training; it is not.�
Did you catch the implied threat in that sentence I boldfaced? If you refuse to enroll your child in mandated “safe environment” training, you will be under suspicion of being a bad parent, at best, and a child molester, at worst.
As for her specious claim that it is not sex education, that is not what people are claiming. No one claims that it’s aim is to teach the mechanics of sex. The complaint is that the program is too graphic and exposes children to sexual concepts and ideas that should be reserved for adulthood. Children can be taught how to avoid strangers without graphic details. Such programs put children as the first line of defense, shifting the focus from bishops who averted their gaze from abusers to children and their parents.
Also their requirement that parents sign a document stating that they refused to enroll their child has one purpose: a legal liability waiver. If your child is abused by a Church employee, they will be able to say, “Sorry, but you refused safe environment training. Good luck with that.”
You can find out all that’s wrong with these programs from my 2002 article Talking about Touching, which details how the program in use in many dioceses has its roots in a group called COYOTE (Call Off Your Tired Old Ethics) founded by a pagan priestess in order to seek legalization of prostitution. Read it and be informed. Others have since done even more work on this issue. Do some Google searches for SEICUS and Talking about Touching and Good Touch/Bad Touch to see what else is involved.
A friend sends along the following formula which be of help for those bishops who received “Required Action” notices: