Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More training

http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2010/12/15/news/doc4d08131fd0865870257379.txt
Sex abuse scandals have brought more training for leaders of youth groups (document)
Published: Wednesday, December 15, 2010

0diggsdigg ShareThis0By Ed Stannard, Register Metro Editor
estannard@nhregister.com
The plague of child sexual abuse by clergy and volunteer leaders in the 1990s has brought in an era of vigilance to keep pedophiles away from vulnerable young people.

As a result of the scandals, and the accompanying monetary settlements, religious groups, including the hardest-hit Roman Catholic Church, and youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America began to require background checks and training in sexual-abuse prevention.

The Knights of Columbus, which was hit with two lawsuits Tuesday by men claiming they were abused by a youth leader, has had a written policy and guidelines since 2003 and conducts background checks on all volunteers, according to Patrick S. Korten, vice president for communications.

The Knights encourage but do not require sexual abuse awareness training. The 10-page Youth Protection Program states: “Local Knights of Columbus councils and assemblies and Squires circles are encouraged to establish programs for training fellow Knights, Squires, parents and others within the community, in order to educate these individuals as to how to prevent, identify and report child abuse.”

It also advises that a youth leader, “whenever possible, should have another adult person present when he is with a youth participant.”

“We do not have a required training session for youth leaders,” Korten said. “The ‘Youth Protection Program’ booklet is very well written, clear and straightforward, and in our experience, the men who volunteer to be youth leaders read it thoroughly and take it seriously.

“The fact that they must undergo background checks underscores the seriousness of responsible participation in the program.”

Other organizations, including the Roman Catholic Church, with which the Knights are affiliated, have launched programs with trained facilitators. The three Connecticut dioceses have contracted with companies that provide the training. The Archdiocese of Hartford and Diocese of Bridgeport use Virtus while the Diocese of Norwich uses Armatus.

“Our diocese has been a leader in creating what we call a zero-tolerance policy and a safe-environment policy,” said Brian Wallace, spokesman for the Bridgeport Diocese.

Bishop William Lori was among the members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that created the “Dallas Charter” in 2002 to ensure protection of youth in the church, Wallace said. Continued...

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“We have a very thorough program. It includes criminal background checks. … Every person goes through the training and we’ve been doing this for at least five years.”

The policy applies to those who work in soup kitchens and church fairs — anywhere children might be present, Wallace said. “When we first started them, as you can imagine, there was some resistance. What we found is once people went through the training that almost unanimously there was a lot of excitement about it.

“There was some muscle to the program and I have to say it worked.”

The Boy Scouts’ Connecticut Yankee Council, based in Milford, offers training both in person and online, which all applicants must complete before they can become Scout leaders, according to Tony Vogl, development and marketing director.

“It’s partly videos; it’s partly scenarios … how to understand, not to put yourself in a situation where you’re alone with a child,” he said.

“The biggest rule is two-deep leadership,” meaning two Scout leaders, or a leader and a parent, are present during any Scout function.

Call Ed Stannard at 203-789-5743 and follow on Twitter @EdStannardNHR.

KofC Youth Protection Program
By Ed Stannard, Register Metro Editor
estannard@nhregister.com

The plague of child sexual abuse by clergy and volunteer leaders in the 1990s has brought in an era of vigilance to keep pedophiles away from vulnerable young people.

As a result of the scandals, and the accompanying monetary settlements, religious groups, including the hardest-hit Roman Catholic Church, and youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America began to require background checks and training in sexual-abuse prevention.

The Knights of Columbus, which was hit with two lawsuits Tuesday by men claiming they were abused by a youth leader, has had a written policy and guidelines since 2003 and conducts background checks on all volunteers, according to Patrick S. Korten, vice president for communications.

The Knights encourage but do not require sexual abuse awareness training. The 10-page Youth Protection Program states: “Local Knights of Columbus councils and assemblies and Squires circles are encouraged to establish programs for training fellow Knights, Squires, parents and others within the community, in order to educate these individuals as to how to prevent, identify and report child abuse.”

It also advises that a youth leader, “whenever possible, should have another adult person present when he is with a youth participant.”

“We do not have a required training session for youth leaders,” Korten said. “The ‘Youth Protection Program’ booklet is very well written, clear and straightforward, and in our experience, the men who volunteer to be youth leaders read it thoroughly and take it seriously.

“The fact that they must undergo background checks underscores the seriousness of responsible participation in the program.”

Other organizations, including the Roman Catholic Church, with which the Knights are affiliated, have launched programs with trained facilitators. The three Connecticut dioceses have contracted with companies that provide the training. The Archdiocese of Hartford and Diocese of Bridgeport use Virtus while the Diocese of Norwich uses Armatus.

“Our diocese has been a leader in creating what we call a zero-tolerance policy and a safe-environment policy,” said Brian Wallace, spokesman for the Bridgeport Diocese.

Bishop William Lori was among the members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that created the “Dallas Charter” in 2002 to ensure protection of youth in the church, Wallace said.

“We have a very thorough program. It includes criminal background checks. … Every person goes through the training and we’ve been doing this for at least five years.”

The policy applies to those who work in soup kitchens and church fairs — anywhere children might be present, Wallace said. “When we first started them, as you can imagine, there was some resistance. What we found is once people went through the training that almost unanimously there was a lot of excitement about it.

“There was some muscle to the program and I have to say it worked.”

The Boy Scouts’ Connecticut Yankee Council, based in Milford, offers training both in person and online, which all applicants must complete before they can become Scout leaders, according to Tony Vogl, development and marketing director.

“It’s partly videos; it’s partly scenarios … how to understand, not to put yourself in a situation where you’re alone with a child,” he said.

“The biggest rule is two-deep leadership,” meaning two Scout leaders, or a leader and a parent, are present during any Scout function.

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