Protecting God's Children

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond is committed to ensuring that diocesan institutions and ministries provide a safe and nurturing environment for children, young people and vulnerable individuals.  The mission of the diocese Safe Environment Program is to create a safe environment incorporating the standards as outlined in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The Charter directs action in all the following matters:

  • Creating a safe environment for children and young people;
  • Healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors;
  • Making prompt and effective response to allegations;
  • Cooperating with civil authorities;
  • Disciplining offenders;
  • Providing for means of accountability for the future to ensure the problem continues to be effectively dealt with through the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board.
  • For more information follow this link to the safe environment diocesan webpage.

Diocesan Screening Requirements

All parish volunteers who work with or have regular access to children and/or youth and all school volunteers, must be screened according to the following diocesan guidelines ...

  1. Volunteers will also be screened through ScreeningONE, a national volunteer database. This screening will be repeated every five years.

  2. Volunteers must attend a one-time education/awareness workshop, "Protecting God's Children" known as VIRTUS.

Protecting God's Children for Adults (known as VIRTUS)

This is the education program the Diocese of Richmond has chosen to teach adults how to recognize and respond to child sexual abuse and how to keep children safe.

To register for this program, follow these online instructions.

Why Does It Work?

Child abusers seek to operate and abuse their power within nurturing, child-friendly environments where it is assumed that nobody would want to harm a child. Religious organizations of all faiths are an easy target. The Protecting God's Children program implements safety mechanisms that send a message to all abusers and potential abusers:

  • Child abuse is not tolerated,
  • Children are vigilantly protected,
  • Victims are listened to, heard, and shielded from further abuse, and
  • Offenders are identified and punished.

By utilizing best practices for training and loss prevention, the Protecting God's Children program helps make churches safe for all people—especially children.

How Does It Work?

Maximizing a church's role as a child-safe environment begins with making adults more aware of the ways children and adults interact with each other. The Protecting God's Children program educates and trains adults (clergy, religious, teachers, staff, volunteers, and parents) about the dangers of abuse, the warning signs of abuse, the ways to prevent abuse, the methods of properly reporting suspicions of abuse, and responding to allegations of abuse.

All VIRTUS training programs, including the PROTECTING GOD'S CHILDREN programs, are comprehensive and multi-dimensional—incorporating proven best practice standards for the prevention of child sexual abuse by clergy, staff, volunteers, and others who interact with children within the church environment. Our training programs incorporate instructor-led training, train-the-facilitator education, awareness videos, and ongoing web-based training through online training bulletins and training modules via our VIRTUS Online system.

Using The Church To Protect Children

For any organization, the best practice to prevent wrongdoing, including child sexual abuse, is to have an organization use its own people to facilitate awareness of the issue. The Protecting God’s Children program begins with the training of internal facilitators—individuals selected by the archdiocese, diocese, or religious organization to train other adults and parents on how to best protect children. We use facilitator-led awareness sessions and continuous online training so that participants learn the best methods for delivering their message, including the training for the Protecting God’s Children program.

Training Adults To Protect Children

We begin by making adults of the Church that interact with children aware of how to protect children. Our Protecting God’s Children program for adults is a three-hour live awareness session instructing adults of the Church that to protect children you must have continuous awareness and vigilance. This awareness session makes trainees understand the signs of child sexual abuse, the methods and means by which offenders commit abuse, and five empowerment steps one can use to prevent child sexual abuse. Continuing online training is a valuable component of the Protecting God’s Children program for the continued awareness of child abuse.