Highlights of the Diocese of Manchester Safe Environment Program
Encouraging reporting of abuse
Posters. All parishes and diocesan Catholic schools display a poster with information about how to report suspected abuse. During site visits, the diocesan Compliance Officer and her staff provide additional posters, if needed.
Reporting Cards. The Diocese of Manchester developed wallet-sized cards that state how to report abuse to the civil authorities and to the Office for Healing and Pastoral Care. These cards are inserted in the posters in every parish and school.
Parish Bulletins. Regularly throughout year, parishes publish in their bulletins the procedures for reporting sexual abuse of a minor. Some parish bulletin providers regularly include this information in the bulletin advertising section. The Compliance Officer and her staff ensure that this information is included in the parish bulletins when they conduct their site visits.
The Diocese of Manchester website prominently posts information
All Church personnel who regularly work with minors are required to undergo training in sexual abuse awareness and reporting. In addition to the initial training session, church personnel also must participate in refresher training every three years.
The Diocese of Manchester requires that parishes and schools provide training for children and youth in religious education programs and in the diocesan Catholic schools. These programs, Circles of Care and Netsmartz, encourage children to report abuse and tell them how to speak up. In addition, the Diocese of Manchester developed and distributed a coloring book for children, which also encourages reporting of abuse.
The Diocese of Manchester has developed a number of resources for parents, all of which encourage parents to report suspected abuse. These resources include a Safe and Sound All Around parent guide, Talking with Your Children About Sexual Abuse pamphlet, an internet safety guide, and a Cell Phones & Parental Controls safety booklet, and Family Discussion Cards, all of which are available on our website and have been distributed in parishes and schools.
Ensuring Child Safety is a Priority in Our Parishes and Schools
Training of Church Personnel. As discussed above, the Diocese of Manchester requires that all Church personnel who regularly work with minors undergo sexual abuse awareness training. In addition, parishes and schools are required to provide personal safety training to children.
Screening of Church Personnel. The Diocese of Manchester requires that all Church personnel who regularly work with minors undergo background screening.
Safe Environment Coordinators. Every parish, diocesan school, and camp is required to appoint a Safe Environment Coordinator to assist the pastor, principal, or director to ensure that safe environment requirements are met. The Compliance Officer and her staff are in regular communication with the Safe Environment Coordinators, pastors, and principals, and on an annual basis, hold a meeting of all Safe Environment Coordinators and others involved in child safety.
Safe Environment Database. The Diocese of Manchester has established a safe environment database to track compliance with the screening and training requirements of all church personnel who regularly work with minors. Access to this database is limited to pastors, principals, safe environment coordinators, and the diocesan safe environment office staff.
Compliance Reports. The Diocese of Manchester requires that parishes and schools regularly update the safe environment database and on an annual basis, complete certain compliance reports to demonstrate that the parishes and schools have complied with all safe environment requirements.
Compliance Visits. The Compliance Officer and her staff conduct visits to every parish and school at least once every four years. At those site visits, the Compliance Officer and her staff conduct reviews to ensure that all safe environment requirements have been fulfilled. During the visits, the Compliance Officer and her staff interview the pastor or principal, safe environment coordinator, and others involved in child safety at the parish.
Ensuring the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is Fulfilled
Monthly Reports by Compliance Officer. The Compliance Officer provides the Bishop and the Diocesan Review Board with monthly reports about her compliance work with parishes and schools. In addition, she provides an annual report to the Bishop and to the Diocesan Review Board.
Regular Meetings. The Bishop meets regularly with the Delegate for Ministerial Conduct and the Compliance Officer to discuss the safe environment efforts of the Diocese. In addition, the Bishop meets with the Diocesan Review Board on annual basis.
Diocesan Review Board Audit. In accordance with the Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal Policy for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Diocesan Review Board conducts a regular audit of the Office for Ministerial Conduct to ensure compliance with diocesan policy (which includes all requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People).
USCCB Audit. The USCCB conducts an annual audit of the Diocese of Manchester to ensure compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.