Safe Environments

THE U.S.C.C.B. CHARTER FOR THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN & YOUNG PEOPLE

In 2002 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops drafted a landmark document called the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (The Charter). The Charter contains a comprehensive set of standards and procedures to address sexual abuse of minors and includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability and the prevention of abuse through Safe Environment programs.

SAFE ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMS                     View Local Virtus Training Schedule Here
                                                                                                  (Select Bridgeport, CT)

 

 Safe Environment offices are currently in place in U.S. Archdioceses and Dioceses to prevent child abuse, provide outreach and assistance to victims and to ensure timely reporting of suspected child abuse to civil authorities.  Safe Environment programs include criminal background checks, Codes of Conduct, Sexual Misconduct policies, and educational programs for all clergy, employees, volunteers, children and youth to prevent child sexual abuse.

In the Diocese of Bridgeport we have a well established Safe Environment program with a full time director Erin Neil who is also a licensed clinical social worker. Ms. Neil oversees the Safe Environment programs and provides assistance to victims.

AWARENESS TRAINING: We have consistently used The VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children Program for adults and the Think First and Stay Safe Program for children. Safe Environment training teaches adults and children to identify the most common lures and tricks employed by a child molester to prevent abuse and how to make a report if abuse is ever suspected. We have a dedicated counselor from Catholic Charities Ms. Tara Mingione who delivers the Children’s Safe Environment program K-12 each year!! She meets with more than 10,000 students annually and provides a consistent message of child abuse prevention. Parents are always provided with a chance to meet with her and preview the program before training is delivered in the classroom. Our Catholic schools distribute informational material and parents guides to each family with a child enrolled in our schools in advance of the program so that training begins at home. We have had approximately 40 volunteer facilitators of the VIRTUS program over the past five years. Collectively training reached over 60,000 adults and children. We distributed an additional 40,000 informational brochures and parent guides to the public. In the State of CT, the Catholic Church trained a combined total of 200,000 people, distributed over 100,000 informational brochures. Together we conducted more 50,000 background checks!

LOCAL IMPLEMENTATION: Our Pastors, Directors of Religious Education, School Principals, Program Directors and Local Safe Environment coordinators have a big job when it comes to implementing Safe Environments. Every day they are charged with the task of ensuring thatevery adult working and volunteering in the parishes completes a criminal background check, reads and signs our polices and attends VIRTUS training. The Safe Environment coordinators work tirelessly to ensure all environments in our schools, parishes and programs are as safe as possible.

STEPS FOR REPORTING AN INCIDENT OF ABUSE

Am I required to report a suspicion of sexual abuse, other abuse or a violation of the Code of Conduct?

The answer is YES! If you have actual knowledge of or have reasonable cause to suspect abuse or misconduct against a minor by a member of the Clergy, Seminarian, Lay Employee, Lay Volunteer or Independent Contractor of the Diocese of Bridgeport, please report that information immediately to: Erin Neil, L.C.S.W., Director of Safe Environments & Victim Assistance Coordinator,
(203) 650-3265 and The CT Department of Children and Family (D.C.F.) Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline. Mandated Reporters are required by law to cause an oral report to be made directly to D.C.F. or to the Police within 12 hours of becoming aware of an incident or a concern. 

1-800-842-2288

You must also notify your immediate supervisor. If the incident of suspected abuse involves a supervisor, contact Safe Environments directly.

WARNING SIGNS: If you have any concern about the safety of a child or if you have observed an early warning sign of inappropriate conduct or violation of the Diocese of Bridgeport Code of Conduct, you should report this information to Safe Environments immediately. When in doubt, REPORT!!!  Call immediately with what you know. Your information will be handled with a high level of confidentiality at all times however full anonymity cannot be guaranteed in cases involving abuse of a minor.

Other Important Numbers:. For all questions relating to background checks, please call the Diocese at (203) 416-1402. For more information visit our diocesan website, http://www.bridgeportdiocese.com/.