The Archdiocese of St. Louis has developed a new online training system and database for its Safe Environment Program. The new website, Prevent and Protect STL (www.preventandprotectstl.org) is managed by the archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection.
Anyone ministering to minors and vulnerable adults is required to register with the new system in 2020, including those new to service, as well as those who already have participated in training. Those who already have participated in an in-person Protecting God’s Children workshop will have their previous training date transferred to the new online system.
Approximately 5,000 people in the archdiocese, including parish child safety coordinators, already have registered with the system beginning last November, according to Sandra Price, executive director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection. Parishes already have begun publicizing the system in bulletins and through other communications. There currently are approximately 60,000 active adults in ministry in the archdiocese who are in compliance with the program.
Clergy, religious, employees and volunteers will be required to submit information for an updated national background check, and view two new training modules on reporting abuse and a code of ethical conduct. Participants also will be asked to sign an updated code of ethical conduct. The whole process takes about 45 minutes to an hour.
The new online system was developed in collaboration with The McCalmon Group Inc., which provides systems, trainings and other resources for workplaces. Price described the customized system as “state-of-the-art,” and will allow the office to provide customized continuing education for all adults required to participate in the Safe Environment Program.
“Most adults received their safe environment training and agreed to abide by the Code of Ethical Conduct when they began in ministry or around 2002,” Price said. “We have an obligation to make sure today that there is still a solid understanding of what the rules are for those who work in ministry.”
Price said there have been changes to policies over time, and the process has been put in place to ensure that all adults have the most up-to-date information. “Our goal is to create a culture of safety that all adults in ministry are responsible for,” she said. “This process reminds all adults of what behaviors are expected when ministering to both children and adults on behalf of a parish, school or agency.”
Participants will be required to go through the process every three years. Price said she sees the new system as a platform to provide future trainings on other related topics, such as child trafficking, child pornography and healthy boundaries in ministry.
“There are many issues that affect the safety and well-being of children and that contribute to child sexual abuse,” Price said. “The hope is that we can move adults towards a deeper level of awareness and provide timely information and tools to keep children safe in their communities.”
The Protecting God’s Children workshop, developed by VIRTUS, is required of every first-time employee or volunteer and remains an essential part of the program, Price said. The in-person training educates participants to identify the signs of child sexual abuse, understand the methods and means by which offenders commit abuse and to be aware of the steps that can be taken to prevent ongoing or future abuse.
“That has become a ministry in itself,” she said. “We have had many people who have disclosed (past) abuse to our workshop facilitators, and it allows us to minister to them. For people who have been abused, we want to be sensitive and available to them.”
Facilitators are trained to intervene and offer support. Price noted that those who have been abused are excused from participating in the Protecting God’s Children workshop, but would still need to complete a background check and additional training. She added that many victims do not realize they can ask for an exemption by contacting their local child safety coordinator.
>> Prevent and Protect STL
To learn more about the Safe Environment Program and to register with the new system, visit, preventandprotectstl.org. For more information or assistance with registering, contact your parish child safety coordinator.
website also includes links to resources on preventing abuse, reporting
abuse, outreach and support for those who have been abused, policies
and codes of conduct and a schedule of Protecting God’s Children
To report current sexual abuse of a minor by a
member of clergy, an archdiocesan employee, or a volunteer, your first
call is to the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s
Division Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at (800) 392-3738. After a
report has been made to authorities, please call the Office of Child and
Youth Protection at (314) 792-7704.
To report the past abuse of
an adult survivor who was victimized as a child, please call the Office
of Child and Youth Protection (314) 792-7704.
To report current
abuse of a vulnerable adult, call the Missouri Department of Health and
Senior Services Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline at (800) 392-0210.
For more information or assistance with registering, contact your parish child safety coordinator.