PROTECTING GOD’S CHILDREN (VIRTUS PROGRAM)
“Excellence Builds Trust”
The Prevalence of Abuse in society: In surveys of adults, one out of five women and one out of ten men reported that they were sexually molested before they were 18 years old. This means that an estimated 40 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse are living in the United States today. Past statistics show that an estimated 9.6% of all school children will be molested by an educator or an employee of a school between kindergarten and 12th grade. Between 13 and 34% of all females will be victims of sexual assault before the age of 18, and 7 to 16% of all males will also be victimized before they are 18.
To prevent this from happening in the future, St. Therese Parish participates fully in the Archdiocesan Program, “Protecting God’s Children”. The components are as follows:
SAFEGUARD THE CHILDREN: Provides ongoing support, education, training and resources to help prevent child sexual abuse and to address children’s safety in our parishes, schools, homes and communities. This also includes the VIRTUS training which is offered on a regular basis at St. Therese.
VICTIMS ASSISTANCE MINISTRY: Provides victims/survivors of sexual abuse assistance with reporting sexual misconduct, and helps obtain support for the needs of the individual and families. If you are a survivor, please contact Ms. Suzanne Healy at the Victims’ Assistance Ministry Office of the Archdiocese at SDHealy@la-archdiocese.org or 213-637-7650.
FINGERPRINTING: All clergy, paid parish/school personnel and volunteers who work regularly in a supervisory role with children or youth must be fingerprinted. Information on fingerprinting schedule and locations is published monthly.
“Safeguard the Children” (VIRTUS) classes are mandatory for anyone working or volunteering around children—including lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, sacristans, ushers, etc. Classes, which are three hours long, are held throughout the Archdiocese. St. Therese highly encourages all volunteers to become trained so that we can all be the “eyes and ears” of our parish and protect all of God’s Children!
For those who have already taken the VIRTUS class but for whom it has been four years or more since having done so, the Archdiocese also offers VIRTUS Recertification Classes (“Keeping the Promise Alive”). These classes are two hours long and are normally held in the evenings. Go to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles website (www.la-archdiocese.org) and click on PROTECTING CHILDREN to find out when the next classes will be held and/or to sign up for a scheduled class. For more information about what VIRTUS is, please read the information below.
WHAT IS VIRTUS? VIRTUS is the brand name that identifies best practices programs designed to help prevent wrongdoing and promote “rightdoing” within religious organizations. The VIRTUS programs empower organizations and people to better control risk and improve the lives of all those who interact with the Church.
Who created the VIRTUS programs? The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc. (National Catholic) created the programs. Monsignor Kevin McCoy, past board chairman of National Catholic, asked whether child sexual abuse could be prevented and, if so, how? In March of 1998, National Catholic invited prominent national experts—experts in many disciplines—to discuss these questions at a forum in Washington, D.C. From those discussions, the initiative for the VIRTUS programs was created. The National Catholic Board of Directors selected an Ad Hoc Committee to oversee development of the programs. The Ad Hoc Committee was assisted by a steering committee of nationally known experts and program and service providers.
Why did National Catholic select VIRTUS as the brand name for the programs? The word virtus derives from Latin, and means “valor, moral strength, excellence, and worth”. In ancient times, virtus denoted a way of life and manner of behavior that always aspired to the highest, most positive attributes of people and aspects of human interaction.
VIRTUS Programs – Concept and Methodology: The VIRTUS programs are a platform that provide the foundation, and also, the superstructure, of all the risk control (loss prevention/loss control) initiatives undertaken by National Catholic on behalf of its shareholders and the Church. The VIRTUS programs constantly and consistently employ several elements as the cornerstone of their methodology. These are (summarized):
They target both institutional change, and also, individual behavior modification, with appropriate products/services.
They employ multiple modalities (written materials, web training modules, audiotapes, videotapes, training manuals, seminars, etc.), to reach our audience.
They utilize a “Think Tank” development model, including engagement of an Expert Consulting Team that assists with the development and implementation of our products/services.
They are “constructed” and deployed in phases or components (e.g., Phase I of the VIRTUS programs deals with child sexual abuse and other inappropriate sexual behavior, etc.);
They exist as an ongoing process—phases are never “finished,” but rather are continuously refined and updated, and constantly available.
All activities are designed to ensure a constant product/service “pipeline.”
They seek and engage outstanding professional service providers for product development and training.
They are committed to measurable results and continuous improvement.
ORIGIN OF THE WORD “VIRTUS”
The origins of the word virtus can be traced back to the Latin word vir, “man”. The common list of attributes associated with virtus are typically perceived masculine strengths, which may indicate its derivation from vir. From the early to the later days of the Roman Empire, there appears to have been a development in how the concept was understood.
Originally virtus was used to describe specifically martial courage, but it eventually grew to be used to describe a range of Roman virtues. It was often divided into different qualities including prudentia (prudence), iustitia (justice), temperantia (temperance, self-control), and fortitudo (courage). This division of virtue as a whole into cardinal virtues is today classified as virtue ethics, as described by Plato‘s Republic and Aristotle‘s Nicomachean Ethics. It implies a link between virtus and the Greek concept of arete.
This inclusion leads to the belief that at one time virtus extended to cover a wide range of meanings that covered one general ethical ideal. The use of the word began to grow and shift to fit the new idea of what manliness meant. No longer did virtus mean that a person was a brave warrior but it could also mean that he was a good man, someone who did the right thing. During the time of the decline of the Roman elite virtus the Roman upper class no longer thought of themselves as unmanly if they did not serve in the military.
Virtue as described by Aristotle was rediscovered in the medieval age by Muslim philosopher Averroes, which in turn impacted Thomas Aquinas to fuse virtue ethics with Christianity in connection with the Renaissance of the 12th century.