The Office of Child and Youth Protection utilizes three main programs to help keep kids safe. Virtus, Circle of Grace, and Praesidium Called to Protect training are designed to discuss safety and awareness for specific age groups; learn more below about what each program covers.
What is Protecting God’s Children for Adults?
Protecting God’s Children for Adults is a program to ensure safe environments in all parishes, schools, and diocesan programs. The focus of this free training is to increase awareness about the nature of child sexual abuse. The VIRTUS® program is an awareness session, led by trained facilitators, that includes videos and discussion. Participants learn the warning signs of abuse, strategies for handling suspicions of abuse, and ways to respond to abuse.
Who Developed Protecting God’s Children for Adults?
The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc. saw a need to develop community education on this topic. At each stage of development, they consulted with nationally-known experts and program and service providers. Staff members of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph were instrumental in the program’s development.
Who Leads the Sessions?
The three-hour sessions are led by trained facilitators. Sessions are available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
How Do I Host a Workshop?
If your parish, school, or organization would like to host a workshop, please contact Sherry Huffman, Safe Environment Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CIRCLE OF GRACE was developed by the Archdiocese of Omaha. The program’s philosophy represents the core teaching of our Catholic faith: the belief and knowledge of God’s real presence in our lives. This presence embraces the very essence of each person. Awareness and integration of this knowledge holds the ability to transform every aspect of a person’s life.
What is a Circle of Grace?
Adults assist children by helping them understand that each of us lives and moves in a Circle of Grace. You can imagine your own Circle of Grace by putting your arms above your head then circle down in front of your body including side-to-side. This circle – front to back – holds who you are in your body and through your senses. It holds your very essence in mind, heart, soul, and sexuality.
Why is it important to help our children understand the Circle of Grace?
God intends our relationships to be experiences of divine love. Respectful, nurturing, loving relationships increase our understanding of our own value and help us to love others. It is never too early to help children understand how very special they are and how relationships in life are called to be sacred. Understanding this can help them to protect the special person they are and to be respectful of others.
A truly safe and protective environment is one where children recognize when they are safe or not safe and know how to bring their concerns, fears, and uncertainties to trusted adults.
How is the Circle of Grace Program different from other protection programs?
According to research, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by age 18. Many protection programs focus on “stranger danger,” however, 90% of the time the perpetrator of abuse is known to the child, such as a relative or family friend. Circle of Grace goes beyond just protection by helping children understand the sacredness of who they are and how to seek help through their relationships with trusted adults.
Child abuse know no borders, boundaries, or incomes. Abuse occurs in every class, culture, and ethnic group. Circle of Grace provides children with the safety skills they need to prevent victimization and to respect each person.
Called to Protect™ for Youth teaches high school youth about boundaries, how to respond if someone tries to violate their boundaries, and how to tell their parents if they or a friend have been abused. It includes videos followed by group projects and discussion. It is presented in our Catholic high schools and parish youth programs.
The curriculum covers:
- The three types of boundaries – physical, emotional, and behavioral
- How molesters try to violate their boundaries
- Ways to make molesters stop violating their boundaries
- Methods child molesters use to keep kids from telling
- The words to tell their parents or another trusted adult if someone is abusing them or one of their friends.