The Diocese of Syracuse will mark its first annual Safe Environment Week Nov. 14 to 20. Diocesan Director of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance Jacqueline Bressette offered the Sun some insight on the initiative and how those across the diocese can participate.
Q: What is Safe Environment Week?
Bressette: Safe Environment Week is a time to recognize the many ways that we are committed to creating and maintaining safe environments for our children, youth, and vulnerable adults. The Office of Safe Environment would not be successful without the collaborative efforts and commitment from our clergy, religious, employees, and volunteers. We also want to recognize the Safe Environment facilitators whose dedication to education and awareness plays a vital role in this ministry. The Safe Environment site coordinators’ roles are invaluable as they assure their sites are in compliance with the Child Abuse Prevention Policy.
Q: What are the successes of the diocesan Safe Environment and Victim Assistance programs?
Bressette: To date, over 37,000 adults have attended the initial Safe Environment training and had a criminal background check; another 12,000 adults attended the Safe Environment recertification training and had another criminal background check. With so many adults having trained in Safe Environment and learning about the signs of grooming and sexual abuse, who to call if someone sees inappropriate behavior or suspects abuse, and what a “safe environment” means, we promote a culture of dignity and safety for the children, youth, and vulnerable adults of our diocese. Students in every grade in our Catholic schools as well as in our Faith Formation programs (PreK – 12) are also trained to address personal safety issues every year. This past school year alone, over 18,000 children and youth received the training.
Q: What activities will take place to mark the week?
Bressette: All Catholic school administrators and parish Faith Formation Directors have been encouraged to provide the required Safe Environment training for the children and youth throughout the diocese.
Pastors/school administrators have been asked for their support in celebrating Safe Environment Week with bulletin inserts/flyers and bulletin blurbs.
A diocesan-wide poster and media contest will be held. The four winning submissions will be used during National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Visit syrdio.org for complete details.
Safe Environment Week will be featured on “Around the Diocese,” Facebook, Instagram, and the diocesan website.
Q: How can people in the diocese help continue the success of the SE and VA programs in the diocese?
Learn more about the two programs on the diocesan website, www.syrdio.org.
Attend the initial Safe Environment training to learn more about how to create and maintain safe environments free of sexual abuse.
Report any suspected child abuse to the local authorities. Call with any questions or concerns.
Contact the Safe Environment Office at (315) 470-1421 or firstname.lastname@example.org.