Safe Touch, a curriculum offered annually to all children enrolled in archdiocesan schools and PSR programs, teaches children about healthy boundaries and personal safety. The curriculum was updated in 2016 to include resources for adults and children regarding safety and responsibility when using technology and social media.
Predators gain access to children and teens through social media and gaming sites where they can immediately begin the grooming process. Predators can remain anonymous and no longer have to leave their homes in order to abuse a child or a teen. A predator no longer needs physical access to make contact with a child or teen. It is important to educate children on technology safety and monitor their usage regardless of age or gender. Children and teens must be taught to identify and report inappropriate electronic contact in the same way they are taught about inappropriate in person contact.
The Safe Environment Program also recommends NetSmartz, a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which provides age-appropriate resources for staying safe online. For more information, seewww.netsmartz.org.
For more information on Safe Touch and the Safe Environment Program, contact director Sandra Price at (314) 792-7271 or email [email protected], or visit www.archstl.org/sep.
Anyone who wishes to make a report of the sexual abuse of a minor by any priest, deacon or employee of the Archdiocese of St. Louis may contact Deacon Phil Hengen, director of child and youth protection with the Archdiocese of St. Louis, at (314) 792-7704 or [email protected], or call the Missouri Division of Family Services Child Abuse Hotline, (800) 392-3738.