Child and Youth Protection Timeline
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a comprehensive set of procedures established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in June 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse.
The Essential Norms
The Essential Norms, which have received the required recognition from the Holy See, constitute particular law for the dioceses/eparchies that belong to the USCCB. As such, the Essential Norms bind those subject to them. While the bishops/eparchs freely agreed to follow the provisions of the Charter, the bishops/eparchs are legally bound to observe the stipulations of the Essential Norms. Non-compliance with the Essential Norms is subject to canonical penalty.
National Review Board
The USCCB established the National Review Board during their meeting in June of 2002. The functions of the Board were revised slightly and reconfirmed in June of 2005 when the Charter was revised and extended through 2010. The purpose of the National Review Board is to collaborate with the USCCB in preventing the sexual abuse of minors in the United States by persons in the service of the Church.
Diocesan Office of Victim Assistance
The Diocese of Syracuse formed the Office of Victim Assistance and designated a Victim Assistance Coordinator. Upon receiving notification of any allegations of child sexual abuse, the Coordinator promptly informs the alleged victim of his/her rights and obligations. The Coordinator also organizes timely and responsive pastoral care provided by the diocese to individuals who have experienced sexual abuse by a member of the clergy in the past or present, the individual's immediate families, and the affected faith communities. The Coordinator will work to promote safe, healthy communities of faith.
Diocesan Office of Safe Environment
The Diocese of Syracuse formed the Office of Safe Environment and designated a Safe Environment Coordinator. The Coordinator oversees the implementation of the Safe Environment program, taking steps to create safe environments to prevent the sexual abuse of children, young people, and vulnerable adults through youth protection training, building awareness, criminal background screening, and maintaining a commitment to keeping all children, young people, and vulnerable adults safe.
“Protecting God’s Children” initial Safe Environment adult training program launched
“Protecting God's Children® for Adults” is a training conducted by VIRTUS® certified facilitators on the prevention of child sexual abuse. The training makes participants aware of the signs of child sexual abuse, the methods and means by which offenders commit abuse, and five easy steps one can use to prevent child sexual abuse.
“Keeping the Promise Alive” recertification Safe Environment adult training program launched
“Keeping the Promise Alive” is a 1.5 hour session with one video that provides ongoing awareness for the prevention of child sexual abuse. The material covered is designed to identify and reinforce the lessons of the original “Protecting God’s Children” program by clarifying some of the more challenging aspects of the sessions and strengthening the participants’ ability to recognize risky behavior by adults in their environments and take action to intervene in potentially threatening situations.
Diocesan Review Board
In accordance with the Charter, the diocese has an established Diocesan Review Board: a confidential, consultative body whose primary purpose is to assist the Diocesan Bishop in making a determination of a cleric’s suitability for ministry upon receipt of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, young person, or vulnerable adult. The Review Board does not investigate the credibility of an allegation if the accused priest or religious is deceased as there is no action that can be taken in terms of that cleric’s suitability for continued ministry. The Review Board is convened following notification to the appropriate civil authority and after the diocese is advised that no further action will be taken by civil authorities.
Diocesan Child and Youth Protection Policy
In order to implement the goals expressed in the Charter, the Diocese of Syracuse developed the diocesan Child and Youth Protection Policy. This policy is intended to assist with preventing, educating, and responding to allegations of child sexual abuse. The policy extends to all clergy, all religious, all diocesan/parish employees, and volunteers whose ministry or role places them in regular contact with children, young people, or vulnerable adults. The Diocese of Syracuse expects that all persons and entities under its auspices will comply with this policy.
Diocesan Safe Environment Committee
In accordance with the Charter, each diocesan entity is to provide for youth protection, training, criminal background screening and safe environment protocols. In the Diocese of Syracuse, the Safe Environment Committee and its Chairperson have been appointed by the Diocesan Bishop to research, recommend, and implement a program by which the Diocese of Syracuse will comply with these mandates.
The Bishop has appointed officials of diocesan departments as members of this ex-officio group. The Diocesan Bishop, in consultation with the Diocesan Review Board, supervises the work of the Safe Environment Committee.
Annual Safe Environment Audit
The USCCB requires all dioceses in the United States to undergo yearly audits to verify their compliance with the Charter. Since 2003, the Diocese of Syracuse has been found compliant with all audited articles within the Charter. Passing the audit for the 14th year not only reflects the quality of the Safe Environment training programs offered, but more importantly, reflects the commitment and dedication of all clergy, religious, diocesan/parish employees, and volunteers who play a significant role in maintaining safe environments for all children, youth, and vulnerable adults cross the diocese.
John Jay College
The National Review Board commissions John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York to study every known allegation of clerical sexual abuse of minors in every U.S. diocese and religious order since 1950.
Results of First Child Protection Compliance Audits
The National Office of Child and Youth Protection and National Review Board published the results of the first sex abuse and child protection compliance audits in 191 dioceses across the country. As anticipated in the Charter, the audit is the instrument by which the efforts of the bishops to protect children and young people through the establishment of a safe environment within the Church are measured. The audit calls the bishops to accountability and gauges the seriousness with which they are responding to the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy. Maintaining the independence of the audit, along with the ongoing implementation of the Charter, will strengthen the credibility of the bishops, keep children at the center, and assist in restoring trust between the bishops and the faithful.
Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate
In November 2004, the USCCB commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University to design and conduct an annual survey of all dioceses and eparchies whose bishops and eparchs are members of the USCCB. The purpose of the survey is to collect information on new allegations of sexual abuse of minors and the clergy against whom these allegations were made. The survey also gathers information on the amount of money diocese and eparchies have expended as a result of allegations as well as the amount they have paid for child abuse efforts. The national level aggregate results from this survey for each calendar are reported in the “Annual Report of the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
“Circles of Care”
Circles of Care is presented annually to all students Pre-K through 10th grade enrolled in parish-based Faith Formation programs to provide age-appropriate materials on how children and youth can keep themselves safe.
“Child Lures Prevention: Think First and Stay Safe”
“Child Lures” teach students personal safety skills through a series of developmentally appropriate lessons created for grades Pre-K through 6 in our 22 Catholic Schools. This program teaches students to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors by peers, adults and family members and how to respond appropriately. Students learn to recognize and avoid potentially abusive and unsafe behaviors and situations. Overall, the program encourages children to treat others with kindness and respect – and to expect the same in return.
For Grades 7 - 12, our junior/senior high school faculty collaborates with professionals in their community who present on Safe Environment topics such as sexting, Internet safety, personal boundaries, and healthy relationships.
First Revision, the diocesan Child and Youth Protection Policy
First Revision, the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
“Entrusted to Protect, Dedicated to Restore,” the second recertification Safe Environment adult training program launched
“Entrusted to Protect, Dedicated to Restore” is a 1.5 hour recertification session with one video that provides ongoing awareness for the prevention of child sexual abuse, replacing “Keeping the Promise Alive”. This training was produced by the Diocese of Syracuse and provides ongoing awareness for the prevention of child sexual abuse by sharing real situations that occurred within our own diocese.
The training also identifies and reinforces the prevalence of sexual abuse; behaviors and grooming techniques of predators; and what a person should do if there is suspicion or evidence of abuse.
Signed Memorandum of Understand between the District Attorneys and the Diocese of Syracuse
The diocese reports allegations, regardless of when they occurred, immediately to the appropriate district attorney’s office; and advises victims of their right to also file such reports with the civil authorities.
Second Revision the diocesan Child and Youth Protection Policy
Results of the Fourteenth Annual Report (2016) on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The Annual Report summarizes the results of the compliance audit conducted by StoneBridge Business Partners for 2016.
Establishment of the Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program
The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program is an independent settlement program administered by mediators Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille Biros. The goal of the Program is to resolve unsettled sexual abuse claims of a minor by clergy reported to the Diocese of Syracuse, New York (the “Diocese”) by individual claimants prior to February 14, 2018.