Safe Environment Programs
Mitzi Weaver, Safe Environments Coordinator
Victim Assistance – If you have been abused by a member of the clergy or any other representative of the Church, please contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator.
We at St. Francis by the Sea are committed to creating an environment where all children and vulnerable adults are safe. We have instituted safe environment programs to assure the safety of our children. One is the VIRTUS® Protecting God’s Children Program™ for adults. Another is Teaching Touching Safety which is being given to all children in the school, Religious Education program, and Youth Group, unless their parents opt them out of coverage.
What Are the VIRTUS® Programs?
The VIRTUS® programs were created by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc. The VIRTUS® brand name, derived from the Latin language, was selected because in ancient times “virtus” denoted a way of life and behavior that demonstrated the most positive aspects of human interaction. It means valor, moral strength, excellence, and worth. The educational component helps prevent child sexual abuse by making every adult employee or volunteer of the diocese aware of the issues surrounding child sexual abuse and how it harms the victims, their families, the parish, and the community. It helps adults recognize warning signs of abuse, shows them how to respond to suspicious behavior, and empowers them with five steps to help prevent child sexual abuse.
The Teaching Touching Safety program is directed to children and is taught on an age specific basis (Kindergarten through High School) and will help them with their own personal safety.
How does the Diocese of Charleston define sexual misconduct or abuse?
Sexual Misconduct or Abuse: Sexual misconduct or abuse of a minor includes sexual molestation or sexual exploitation of a minor and other behavior by which an adult uses a minor as an object of sexual gratification. Consequently, any act or attempt to commit any act of incest, rape, or a sexual offense in any degree, sodomy, or any unnatural or perverted sexual practice, lewd or indecent acts or proposals, including indecent touching or fondling, exploitation, or permitting, encouraging, assisting, or aiding another, or permitting, encouraging, assisting or aiding a Child to participate in such acts, constitutes sexual misconduct or abuse of a minor. Sexual misconduct or abuse of a minor includes conduct or interaction with a minor which is external and an objectively grave violation of the Sixth Commandment. Such conduct does not need to be an act of intercourse or involve force, physical contact or have a discernible, harmful outcome.