Office of Child & Youth Protection

Role of the Office

MISSION & Ministry

The Diocese of Springfield – Cape Girardeau is committed to the mission and ministry of protecting our children and young people.  Through the Safe Environment program, our clergy, employees, teachers, and our volunteers who regularly work with children and youth have been trained to support this effort to provide 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 they can grow and flourish in their faith.

Report Abuse, Misconduct, or Concern

Any suspected or known abuse of a minor must first be immediately reported to the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline 800-392-3738 or 844-CAN-TELL.

Any suspected or known abuse of vulnerable or eligible adults must first be immediately reported to the Missouri Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline 800-392-0210.

Violations of the Code of Conduct for Clergy, Employees and Adult Volunteers Working with Minors may also be reported to the Diocesan Director of Child and Youth Protection, (417) 866-0841, or childandyouthprotection@dioscg.org  or through the TIPS Online Reporting System.

Concerns may be discussed with your supervisor, the Director of Child and Youth Protection or a Victim Assistance Coordinator. The TIPS online reporting system may also be used, and is available on the home page of this Website. Go to www.dioscg.org to view the Code of Conduct for Clergy, Employees and Adult Volunteers Working with Minors 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.  

Violations involving the Bishop should be reported to the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service at 800-276-1562 or http://reportbishopabuse.org/

Additional Resources

USCCB Office of Child and Youth Protection

Magisterial Teachings on the Protection of God’s Children

Canonical Process-Resolution of Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors

Guidelines for Mandated Reporters

MO Department of Social Services

Child Abuse and Neglect

MO Department of Health & Senior Services – Abuse, Neglect, & Exploitation of the Elderly and Disabled

Courage to Report

Support & Assistance

For Victims/Survivors and Others Affected by Abuse by Clergy

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.

Contact the Director of the Office of Child & Youth Protection to arrange services: childandyouthprotection@dioscg.org or (417)866-0841

Safe Environment Policies and Procedures, December 2021

Safe Environment Policies and Procedures Addendum, March 2021

Canonical Process-Resolution of Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors

National Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.2018

Frequently asked questions about the Charter

 

Diocesan Safe Environment Review Board

Chair— Mike Knoke
Joanne Bailes
Tracy Borgmeyer
Alli Gebhardt
Marilyn Gibson
Don Higgerson
Fr. Patrick Nwokoye
Carol Strattman
Maura Taylor

Diocesan Priests with Allegations of Sexual Abuse or Misconduct Involving a Minor

Independent Review launched on clergy sex abuse, Aug. 24, 2018

Bishop Rice’s Open Letter to the Faithful Aug. 10, 2018

Prevention & Protection

All diocesan personnel, which includes clergy, employees, and adult volunteers, are required to complete the designated safe environment training, complete and submit the background screening, and be current and compliant with the Code of Conduct before engaging in diocesan, parish, and/or school-sponsored activities involving minors and/or vulnerable adults.

Safe Environment Training & Education

Promulgation Letter from Bishop Rice

Register for VIRTUS Safe Environment Training

How do I register for a VIRTUS Safe Environment Training?

How do I change my VIRTUS registration from a live training to online training?

How to read monthly VIRTUS training bulletins online?

How Do I Access Children’s VIRTUS Lessons?

 

Screening

Background Disclosure and Authorization: All diocesan personnel over the age of 18 must complete, sign, and submit the Background Disclosure and Authorization. The diocese will conduct a national and local criminal background screening of all diocesan personnel. Random and periodic re-screening will be conducted on all diocesan personnel.

Background Disclosure and Authorization Form. ENGLISH
Background Disclosure and Authorization Form SPANISH

 

Compliance

Diocesan personnel who regularly engage in activities involving minors and vulnerable adults are to annually read, sign, and submit the Code of Conduct for Clergy, Employees and Adults Volunteers of the Diocese, Parishes, and Schools.

2022-2023 Code of Conduct.Adults.ENGLISH
2022-2023 Code of Conduct.Adults.SPANISH
2022-2023 Code of Conduct.Adults.VIETNAMESE

Code of Conduct for Minors ENGLISH
Code of Conduct Minors SPANISH

 

Safe Environment Education for Children (For Local Coordinators & Educators)

Overview of Children’s Training

When the diocese began using the VIRTUS training for children, each parish and school was given an introductory video which could be used as an ice-breaker to begin the children’s lessons.  The videos are now available on your “Educators” tab of your VIRTUS account.  (Note:  not everyone has access to the Educator tab)  Click here video access instructions.

Parish Report of Completion

School Report of Completion

Parent Verification Form (Children Training)

Opt-Out Form

How Do I Access Children’s VIRTUS Lessons?

Parent Education Brochure English

Parent Education Brochure Spanish

Teaching Boundaries and Safety Guide English

Teaching Boundaries and Safety Guide Spanish

LESSON 1 should be presented during the school year 2022-2023.

How to Access Children’s VIRTUS training from the Educator tab of your VIRTUS account?

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

There are changes being made to the required curriculum and it has been recommended by VIRTUS, that we all use the same Lesson in the Fall and the Spring.  In the Fall, the focus should remain on the prescribed Lesson, and in the Spring, review that lesson and include some specific activities and discussion to reinforce the points made in that particular lesson.  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 have been restructured and organized in a 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 the entirety of their education.  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) each year are as follows:

  • 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.
  • Year 2:
    • 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 3:
    • 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.
  • Year 4:
    • 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 5:
    • 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.”
  • Year 6:
    • 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.

Regardless of a child’s grade level at the time the program is implemented, each child should participate in all eight lessons during the entire cycle.

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.

Forms & Resources

Policy and Guidelines for the Use of Technology, Email and Social Media (English)

Policy and Guidelines for the Use of Technology, Email and Social Media (Spanish)

 

Parent/Guardian Consent and Media Release (English)  

Parent/Guardian Consent and Media Release (Spanish)

 

Policy Addressing Harassment, Discrimination, Violence, or Retaliation by Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties.Brief

Policy Addressing Harassment, Discrimination, Violence, or Retaliation by Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties

 

Promise to Protect Poster

Promise to Protect Poster.SPANISH

Promise to Protect Poster.VIETNAMESE

 

Bulletin Announcement:

Any suspected or known abuse of a minor must first be immediately reported to the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline 800-392-3738 or 844-CAN-TELL; or for suspected or known abuse of vulnerable or eligible adults, the Missouri Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline 800-392-0210.

Violations of the Code of Conduct for Clergy, Employees and Adult Volunteers of the Diocese, Parishes, and Schools may also be reported to the Diocesan Director of Child and Youth Protection, (417) 866-0841, or childandyouthprotection@dioscg.org  or a Victim Assistance Coordinator.

Concerns may be discussed with your supervisor, the Director of Child and Youth Protection or a Victim Assistance Coordinator. The TIPS online reporting system may also be used, and is available on the home page of this Website. Go to www.dioscg.org to view the Code of Conduct for Clergy, Employees and Adult Volunteers of the Diocese, Parishes, and Schools 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.  Bulletin Announcement

Anuncio del boletín:

Cualquier abuso sospechado o conocido de un menor debe ser reportado de inmediato a la línea directa 800-392-3738 o 844-CAN-TELL de la Oficina de Abuso y Abuso Infantil de Missouri; o por abuso sospechado o conocido de adultos vulnerables o elegibles, la línea directa de negligencia y abuso de adultos de Missouri 800-392-0210.

Para denunciar las violaciones del Código de conducta para Clérigos, Empleados y Voluntarios Adultos de la Díosis, Parroquias, y Esquelas a Director de Protección de Niños y Jóvenes, (417) 866-0841, o childandyouthprotection@dioscg.org; o la Coordinadora de Asistencia a las Víctimas.

Las inquietudes se pueden discutir con su supervisor, un Coordinador de Asistencia a las Víctimas, el Director de Protección de Niños y Jóvenes, o el Canciller. El sistema de informes en línea TIPS también se puede usar, y está disponible en la página de inicio de este sitio web. Visite www.dioscg.org para ver el Código de conducta para clérigos, empleados y voluntarios adultos de la Díosis, Parroquias, y Esquelas para obtener otra información importante, incluida un enlace al documento de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos, “Carta para la Protección de Niños y Jóvenes”. Si no puede acceder al sitio web y desea información impresa, comuníquese con la Oficina diocesana de protección de niños y jóvenes al (417) 866-0841.
Bulletin Announcement.Spanish

Audit Results

2021 Child and Youth Protection Annual Report

2021-2022 StoneBridge Audit Results Letter – Springfield-Cape Girardeau The Diocese of Springfield – Cape Girardeau has been found to be in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

USCCB Video on Creating a Safe Environment

Diocesan Commitment to Safe Environments

Staff

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

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

Director | billholtmeyer@dioscg.org

Shelly Ferry

Shelly Ferry

Associate Safe Environment Coordinator | sferry@dioscg.org

Contact Us:

Email: childandyouthprotection@dioscg.org
Phone: (417)-866-0841
Confidential Fax: (888)-820-6032