Child & Youth Protection

The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau is committed to the protection of children and youth. Through our Safe Environment program, thousands of people have been trained to ensure a safe environment for our youth. We believe strongly in our moral obligation to keep the young safe and provide them with a caring environment in which their faith can flourish.

 Charter for Protection Read the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People

Contact the Office of Child and Youth Protection

William Holtmeyer, Jr, MS, NCC, LPC, CEAP, Director

Rosie Francka, Administrative Assistant

Toll free fax:  888-820-6032
Click here to access VIRTUS



Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People

Promulgation Letter from Bishop Rice

Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 800-392-3738

Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 800-392-0210

Watch this! The Catholic Church is Committed to the Safety of Children

Mass of Prayer and Penance from the June 2017 USCCB Plenary Assembly
Mass Video • Homily of Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory​

Audit Results

2017 The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau has been found to be in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.


Parish Report of Completion 2017-18
School Report of Completion 2017-18
2017-18 Code of Conduct Adults (English)
2017-2018 Code of Conduct Adults (Spanish)
2017-2018 Code of Conduct for Minors (English)
2017-2018 Code of Conduct for Minors (Spanish)
Background Disclosure and Authorization (Appendix B1)  English  Spanish

A safe environment poster was distributed to each parish and school.  These are to be displayed in gathering spaces.  If you need additional posters, please contact the Office of Child and Youth Protection.

Bulletin Announcement:

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline:  1-800-392-3738.

To report violations of the Code of Conduct for Clergy, Employees and Adult Volunteers Working with Minors to the Chancellor at 417-866-0841 or or a Victim Assistance Coordinator: Judy St. John, LPC, NCC at 573-587-3139 or

Concerns may be discussed with your supervisor, a Victim Assistance Coordinator, the Office of Child and Youth Protection or the Chancellor. The TIPS online reporting system may also be used, and is available on the diocesan website. Go to to view the Code of Conduct for Clergy, Employees and Adult Volunteers Working with Minors and for other important information, including a link to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s document, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.  If you are unable to access the website and desire printed information, contact the diocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection at 417-866-0841.

ANUNCIO en Espanol: Para denunciar el abuso infantil llame a la Línea Directa de Abuso Infantil del Estado de Missouri: 1-800-392-3738 o llame a la policía. Para denunciar las violaciones al Código de Conducta para el Clero, Empleados y Adultos Voluntarios Trabajando con Menores al Canciller llame al 417-866-0841 o a o al Coordinador de Asistencia a Víctimas: Judy St. John, LPC, NCC al 573-587-3139 o a Inquietudes pueden ser tratadas con su supervisor, con el Coordinador de Asistencia a Víctimas, en la Oficina de Protección al Niño y al Joven o con el Canciller. Vaya a para ver el Código de Conducta para el Clero, Empleados y Adultos Voluntarios Trabajando con Menores y para otra información importante, incluyendo un enlace al documento Carta para la Protección de Niños y Gente Joven de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos. Si no puede tener acceso al sitio web desea información impresa, póngase en contacto con la Oficina de Protección al Niño y al Joven de la Diócesis al 417-866-0841.

Filing a Complaint

Safety: Concerns about violations of the Code of Conduct, and risk management situations such as vandalism and property damage can be reported through TIPS
Safety concerns, violations of the Code of Conduct, and risk management situations such as vandalism and property damage can be reported through TIPS

The Diocese supports and encourages the reporting of all incidents of sexual misconduct, regardless of the identity of the alleged offender. Nothing within diocesan procedures shall be interpreted to preclude or prohibit the reporting of any incidents of sexual abuse to appropriate civil authorities.




Suspected abuse of minors should be immediately reported to the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 800-392-3738

The Diocese recognizes that bringing an allegation of sexual misconduct to the attention of church officials can be a difficult decision. To make this process as safe and comfortable as possible, the Diocese has provided a variety of methods for bringing such a complaint. Any person who alleges sexual misconduct on the part of diocesan personnel* may bring a complaint by contacting any one of the following individuals in writing, or by telephone, or in person. Please mark all correspondence Personal and Confidential.

The TIPS reporting system may  be used.

Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
601 S. Jefferson Avenue Springfield, MO 65806
(417) 866-0841;
Chancellor of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
601 S. Jefferson Avenue Springfield, MO 65806
(417) 866-0841;

Any pastor or parish life coordinator of a parish within the Diocese;

Victim Assistance Coordinators:

Judy St. John, LPC, NCC (573) 587-3139 Email: * “Diocesan personnel” includes clergy, teachers in Catholic schools, and any employee or volunteer who works or volunteers on a regular basis within any parish, Catholic school or other diocesan entity.

Assistance Provided to Victims

The Diocese will reach out to every person who has been the victim of sexual abuse as a minor by anyone acting in the name of the Church, whether the abuse was recent or occurred many years in the past.  This outreach will include provision of counseling, spiritual assistance, support groups, and other social services agreed upon by the victim and the Diocese.  The Assistance Coordinator will aid in the immediate pastoral care of persons who claim to have been sexually abused as minors by clergy or other diocesan personnel.

New Employees and Volunteers

Step 1:  Go to, register for a VIRTUS training, review and sign the Code of Conduct, answer the Background Questionnaire, and submit the Background Check information.

Step 2:  Legibly complete and sign the Background Disclosure and Authorization Form (Appendix B1) English  Spanish

Step 3: Turn in the Background Disclosure and Authorization Form Appendix B1 to your supervisor.   Appendix B1 is faxed to the Office of Child and Youth Protection by the parish or school:  888-820-6032.

Step 4:  Retain the Summary of Rights  English   Spanish  and Code of Conduct English  Spanish for your information.

Step 5:  Attend the VIRTUS training.  Be sure to sign the attendance form at your training, and be present for the entire workshop to receive credit for attending.

What training do I need?

What training do I need?

Calendar of Adult VIRTUS trainings

Click here to access VIRTUS

To register for an Adult VIRTUS training


Overview of Children’s Training

LESSON 2 should be presented during the school year 2017-18.

The job of ensuring children’s safety is a challenging undertaking. The prevention of child sexual abuse requires more than adult awareness, education, and training about the nature and scope of the problem. We must also give our children the tools they need to overcome the advances of someone who intends to do them harm. The VIRTUS Teaching Touching Safety program guide (Teaching Touching Safety Guide) is a tool designed to assist parents and teachers in this important task. The Touching Safety program is a vehicle through which parents, teachers, catechists, and youth ministers give children and young people the tools they need to protect themselves from those who might harm them. The Touching Safety Program Lessons were Created for Four Specific Age Groups:

  • Grades K through 2
  • Grades 3 through 5
  • Grades 6 through 8
  • Grades 9 through 12

Each year, the program provides a theme that introduces and builds on the basic concepts of the Teaching Touching Safety Guide. The material is developmentally appropriate for each age group and includes content and activities that reinforce the message. The materials for teachers include everything needed to prepare for and present each lesson—including additional information to help teachers better understand the context of the materials they are about to present. For example, teachers have access to a glossary of terms for all the lessons. They also have handouts and other reference materials-such as information on how to respond to disclosures, how to report suspected abuse, and other supplemental materials. The lessons are organized in a four-year cycle so each child experiences a totally different lesson plan each time the materials are presented and so each child receives the full range of information from the Teaching Touching Safety Guide in small, “digestible” bites, over a four-year period. Then, as a child advances to the next age group, there are a whole new set of age appropriate lessons that explore the major topics in increasingly greater detail. The themes covered (in an age-appropriate way) in each of the four years are:

  • Year 1:
    • Lesson 1: Touching Safety Rules—Students learn simple rules about what to do and how to react when someone’s touch is confusing, scary, or makes the child or young person feel uncomfortable. Young people start to deal with the real risks they face when they are out in the world and on their own, and they begin to learn where to draw boundary lines in relationships.
    • Lesson 2: Safe Friends, Safe Adults, and Safe Touches—Children, young people, and their parents establish basic guidelines for working together to make certain which friends and other adults in their environment can be trusted to act safely and in the best interest of each child or young person.
  • Year 2:
    • Lesson 3: Boundaries—Students learn about personal boundaries and how identifying and honoring those boundaries can give a child or young person the self assurance needed to speak up when someone tries to step over the line.
    • Lesson 4: Telling Someone You Trust—Children and young people learn who to tell when something makes them feel uncomfortable or confused. This lesson also begins to explore the phenomenon and power of “secrets” in a child’s life at various ages.
  • Year 3
    • Lesson 5: Grooming—Students learn about the types of behavior that may indicate that an adult is grooming the child or young person for something more than friendship. It also helps students learn to trust their own instincts about what is “okay” and what is “not okay.”
    • Lesson 6: “No secrets”—Reinforcing and building on the lessons from Year 2, this lesson deals with peer groups and other influences (including grooming by an abuser) that prevent children and young people from reporting inappropriate behavior. It also helps children and young people develop their own decision-making process to use in these situations.
  • Year 4:
    • Lesson 7: “Internet Safety” – Teaches children and young people safety rules for the Internet and to raise their awareness about the ways adults can use the Internet to confuse and “trick” them into believing things that are not true.  The lesson concentrates on:  keeping personal information private, and realizing that there is no way to really know who is talking with you on the Internet.
    • Lesson 8: “Creating and Following Family Rules” –  Children and young people learn the importance of creating and following family rules in the effort to keep everyone safe.  The students should be better able to participate in the creating of family rules for everyone and to follow the rules set by parents, i.e., being careful about how they share information with anyone outside the family.

Regardless of a child’s grade level at the time the program is implemented, each child should participate in all eight lessons during the four year cycle. There is an additional High School DVD and lessons 9 and 10 available for parish high school programs and Catholic High Schools.

Basic structure of the lesson plans

This program and each included lesson are founded on the principles of appropriate relationship boundaries in the broader context of Christian values. All lessons are age-appropriate, and help children and young people develop the vocabulary and boundary distinctions necessary to empower them to begin to recognize inappropriate behavior by others, while practicing appropriate relationship boundaries in their own lives. Each lesson takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour to complete. Each lesson for each age group includes the following

  • Instructions to help the teacher, catechist, or youth minister prepare to deliver the lesson.
  • Helpful teaching support from the Catechism to give the teacher or catechist a framework for how to keep the lesson within the context of Church tradition and theology.
  • A learning goal, including expected learning outcomes for students.
  • An overview for creating a successful learning experience for the specific age group.
  • Key vocabulary words and definitions that apply to the lesson. These words empower children and young people with the distinctions they need to help recognize inappropriate behavior by those with whom they interact.
  • Suggested activities, with instructions (and appropriate handouts for students as needed).
  • A closing group prayer that reflects the key message of the lesson.

The lessons focus on an age-appropriate discussion of touching safety, relative to the specific roles that different people play in a child’s life. All of the lessons stress the importance of keeping private body parts “private,” and of telling a trusted adult about anyone’s behavior that causes a child to feel uncomfortable or threatened. Additionally, a new set of introductory videos has been developed to make it easier and more comfortable for teachers and catechists to present the lessons to students.

The Purpose of the Introductory Videos

Child sexual abuse is a sensitive topic. And, although the Touching Safety program lessons include activities that are simple and fun, it is not easy for some adults to initiate a preliminary discussion about sexual abuse. Even those who feel comfortable talking with their own children about these issues may find it challenging to talk about this subject matter in a classroom full of children or teenagers. The  Touching Safety program DVD introductions are intended to relieve teachers of the responsibility for “breaking the ice” on this sensitive subject matter. The presenter on the video opens the discussion, covers some basic issues, and allows the “live” teacher to use the activities and supplemental materials in the lesson plans to engage children and young people in meaningful discussions about recognizing and avoiding unsafe behaviors. So, while the DVD lays the groundwork, the teacher uses the activities to help students apply the message from the lessons to their daily lives. Each video introduction is approximately six to seven minutes long. In each age-appropriate video, a presenter will speak directly to children or young people about the purpose of the program and the goals for the lesson, as well as what the children can expect from the activities and discussion. The presenter will introduce the touching safety rules and the concepts of “safe” and “unsafe” friends and adults, and provide some basic facts, vocabulary words, definitions, and discussion points that will be further developed through the activities and supplemental materials provided in the “live” portion of the training. Three different age-appropriate videos are available-one each for:

  • Grades K through 5 (this video is used to introduce both the Grade K-2 lessons and the Grade 3-5 lessons)
  • Grades 6 through 8
  • Grades 9 through 12

Also, the videos are available in English and Spanish language versions. And, all Spanish videos were written and produced as Spanish language presentations, and not merely as voice over translations or subtitles. For your convenience, the individual videos for each lesson (English and Spanish) are available on a single DVD. Each parish and school has a copy of the DVD for children.  To obtain additional copies contact the Office of Child and Youth Protection.

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