The Diocese of Albany is committed to providing a “safe environment” for everyone, especially children. We believe in education that raises awareness of sexual abuse that identifies the signs of sexual abuse, that explains how to control access to our children and vulnerable adults and that encourages responsible reporting of abuse. This information is critical as we go forward into the future. We have chosen the Virtus program to achieve these goals
What does safe environment mean to our youth?
· Safe Environment means trust but not blind trust.
· It means you have been taught how to put and keep yourself in a place where you can be comfortable and open to experience whatever is being shared and in whatever environment you are in.
· You have been taught and are still learning the best way to trust and the best ways to know you can trust.
· A safe environment means you know the exits out and you can sense warning signs so you know when to get out or if you need to get out.
· A safe environment means you know who to go to for help. They are people who can show you trust and therefore deserve to be trusted. People whose immediate concern is providing for you a place where you can feel safe again.
· A safe environment means you have a safe place to go, if where you are becomes unsafe; that this place has been made clear to you where it is and how to get there.
· A safe environment means a community effort to provide the protection, that is their number one concern and effort, to anyone who might be vulnerable.
What does safe environment mean to a parent?
A safe environment means accountability, transparency and responsibility.
· Responsibility for the children’s physical safety, their mental well-being, and their Spiritual guidance in the truth of God’s love.
· Transparency in all the functions of the ministry; subject to inspection, questioning and inclusions at any moment or time.
· Accountability for everything that happens while the children are in our care. Willing to explain, extend a teaching or integrate into family with peace and good will.
What does safe environment mean to someone who serves in parish ministry?
Our Lord said if anyone where to lead any of His children to sin it would be better for them to tie a stone around their neck and be thrown into the sea.(Matthew 18:6) This is how much He loves His children and this is how important safe environment is to each and every core team member or catechist or anyone involved in ministry in anyway at this parish. Safe environment means for each of us as individuals and as teams of people we must, know, embrace and provide for all the needs as outlined above. A safe environment means we are the ones standing in the breach with a watchful eye, a firm resolve and a committed engagement to the assurance that nothing will happen on our watch.
What does safe environment mean to the wider community?
A safe environment to the wider community means Full, Conscious and active participation. Just as our church calls us all to this level of awareness at Mass or anytime we gather in God’s name so to should we be engaged in our community’s health and well-being.
· Full because it speaks to all of us and if we are aware that someone does not know what they should do then we are required to call out to them and help them embrace the standard as the rest of the community.
· Conscious because we are all called to be lions not lambs. We have the ability to do something about our community safety and therefore we must.
· Active Participation because it takes more than just talk, more than just good ideas or kind thoughts, more than just prayer. We must call to our God to give us the strength to do and to act; to engage and to embrace. And in this action God will teach us to love and He will love others through us.