The Archdiocese of Portland and the Catholic Church in the United States will mark Child Abuse Prevention Month during the month of April. The Church particularly emphasizes what is being done in parishes and schools to maintain a safe environment for all students and young people. The Archdiocese developed a comprehensive Child abuse prevention policy in 2002. The Office for Child Protection/Victim Assistance began in 2002 with part-time staffing. In the fall of 2006, Cathy Shannon, the office director, was assigned to this position on a full-time basis. The commitment to a full time position allowed Ms. Shannon to expand and strengthen the two-fold purpose of the office:
1. To provide on-going emotional, psychological and spiritual services to those sexually abused as children.
2. To expand and strengthen preventative screening, training and education so that children/youth in our programs will find a safe environment in the Church.
In August of 2007 the Archdiocese began a new safe environment education program known as Called to Protect developed by Praesidium, Inc. This educational component includes education for employees, staff, volunteers, parents and age-appropriate materials for students. The Archdiocese has trained more than 350 facilitators to provide the Called to Protect training. All parishes and schools are required to provide training of minors annually. More than 9,000 individuals have attended the training this year.
The Archdiocese recently launched phase II of training requirements for clergy and those working directly with children. The new phase is the Armatus online training program, which was also developed by Praesidium, Inc. The Archdiocese requires that one online course per year be completed. This year’s course is “Meet Sam” where personnel are learning more about the characteristics of persons who may sexually abuse children. More than three thousand people have completed the course this year. The online training is in addition to the required Called to Protect training.
The Office for Child Protection/Victims Assistance includes a schedule of Called to Protect workshops and training sessions on its web page www.archdpdx.org/cpo.
The Archdiocese of Portland performs background checks on clergy, seminarians, employees and volunteers who have direct contact with children. To date, more than 19,700 background checks have been performed, including those who do not work with children. This year, Archbishop John G. Vlazny has promulgated an updated Code of Conduct for clergy, employees and volunteers, and the Standards of Conduct for Persons Working with Children. Both documents are available on the web page www.archdpdx.org/cpo.
The Archdiocese continues to work with other civil, church and child protection agencies in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, CARES NW, Portland
Police, Department of Human Services, Mt. Angel Seminary, Catholic Youth Organization, and the St. Joseph Shelter. The Office for Child Protection also serves as a resource to private Catholic schools such as Jesuit, Valley Catholic, La Salle and De La Salle high schools.
The Archdiocese of Portland participates in audits by the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops on how the Archdiocese is implementing the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The audits are conducted by the independent organization The Gavin Group. The Archdiocese received on-site audits in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and submitted information and data collection for the 2008 audit. After each audit, the Archdiocese of Portland has been found to be in full compliance with the Charter. Archbishop Vlazny has made the safety of all parishioners and students a high priority for the Archdiocese and in every parish and school.
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