Child-Protection Programs to Take Effect Next School Year

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 9, 2003 (Zenit.org).- In the wake of the clerical abuse scandals, safe-environment programs to protect children and youth should be fully implemented for the 2003-2004 school year, says an official.



Kathleen McChesney, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection, said the program should be in the planning process by June 20.

The deadline was noted in a three-page paper outlining requirements for diocesan safe environment programs that was sent to all U.S. dioceses in late February. A copy of the paper, titled "Safe Environment Programs," can be found at www.usccb.org/comm/envguide.htm.

The bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth, adopted last June, requires that dioceses and eparchies establish "safe environment" programs.

According to the guidelines, a diocesan safe environment program must include a written code of conduct signed by employees and volunteers who work with young people.

It also equires "training of parents, ministers, educators, church personnel, volunteers and others regularly involved with minors as to the issue of abuse of children," including sexual abuse.