Backgrounder on Child Protection Efforts
The Catholic Church in the United States has vigorously confronted the issue of sexual abuse with a comprehensive Charter – the most demanding of any in existence anywhere.
Endorsed by the Holy See, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People mandates a prompt response on the part of all Dioceses to allegations of sexual abuse and the reporting of those allegations to public authorities. The Diocese of Trenton's policy is published on its website, (www.dioceseoftrenton.org) including contact information for the Diocesan Response Officer.
Primary among the articles of the Charter is the creation of safe environments for children and young people. The Diocese of Trenton has fully implemented a criminal history background check policy, screening all priests, deacons and seminarians regardless of their assignments and level of interaction with children, and all religious (sisters and brothers), employees, volunteers and third party vendors who have direct contact with minors. This process is done in conjunction with the NJ State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. More than 21,000 criminal background checks have been processed through the Diocese of Trenton.
In keeping with the spirit and letter of the Charter, we have instituted VIRTUS, a preventive education program for adults – including clergy, paid staff and volunteers -- who will have interaction with children. To date, more than 23,000 adults serving in the faith communities of the Diocese of Trenton have gone through this program.
In addition, each year children and youth in our Catholic schools and parish religious education programs, along with their parents, take part in "Teaching Touching Safety," which seeks to equip youngsters with the skills they need to keep themselves safe. This program reaches 80,000 children and teens annually.