Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bishops Allow Parents to Remove Children from Safe Environment Programs

The USCCB Administrative Committee recently announced new regulations that were accepted last March regarding the implementation and compliance auditing of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."

In a not totally unexpected move that should help diffuse the stirring controversy over the content of the programs that are threatening to divide a number of parishes nationwide, the changes include a provision to allow parents to remove their children from diocesan-sponsored training programs. In the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, a growing number of parishes and schools have opted for an alternative to the recommended "Talking About Touch" program primarily because many think it constitutes a form of sex education that is the primary responsibility of the parents. This new announcement provides recourse for those parents who find themselves still objecting to the training program selected by their parish, or school. Children who receive such "safety" training in another setting, such as a public school, may also be excused from the program.

The archdiocese is still required to provide a "safe environments program" for children attending church-run schools and participating in parish religious education programs. Training is also still required for clergy, employees, parents, and volunteers who interact with children. Parents who choose to not have their children participate will be required to file a form with a church, or school, administrator to confirm the decision.

[posted by e-mail]

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