Sex abuse--what to teach children?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2003
Sex abuse--what to teach children?
Sat, 01-17-2004 - 8:51am
This is what is going on in our diocese. I'm sorry I missed this meeting, especially as my kids will be attending Catholic schools. I have a lot of respect for Fr. De Lauderante, he was one of our priests when we attended at the Cathedral. I'm really surprised by some of the reactions of the parents but I admit I have not really looked into this program, which I will definitely do now!


Diocese's antiabuse program rejected

By Julia Duin


Published January 14, 2004

The Arlington Catholic diocese's efforts to prevent sexual abuse of children in Catholic schools and religious programs backfired Monday night when angry parents filled a Manassas church to demand that a proposed "Good Touch, Bad Touch" program be canceled.

In a four-hour hearing ending at 11 p.m., a majority of the 230 people at All Saints Catholic Church hooted, booed and hurled catcalls at a handful of diocesan employees, who defended the program.

Parents complained that "Good Touch, Bad Touch" was inappropriate for young children, that parents had little or no input in selecting the program and that the true problem was abusive clerics, not children.

"If clerical abuse was the problem to be addressed, I don't understand why children are being made repositories for information that's beyond their ability to comprehend," said Virginia state Rep. Bob Marshall, a Catholic representing Loudon and Prince William counties in the 13th District.

"I realize the big problem the diocese has," said Eleanor Kelly, a Catholic from Front Royal. "The insurance companies won't insure you unless you show there are programs."

At one point, the crowd began chanting the rosary to drown out Catherine Nolan, the diocesan director of child protection and safety who said the diocese is under pressure from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to come up with a plan to satisfy a 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The bishops devised the charter as a response to revelations of widespread sexual abuse of young Catholics by their priests during a 50-year span.

On Jan. 6, the Arlington diocese was one of 34 singled out by the USCCB as not being in compliance with provisions of the charter, which mandates that each diocese establish a "safe-environment" program for children. The diocese is considering a secular program used in Arlington public schools, in 10 dioceses and in school systems in 44 states, but must rewrite the materials to square with Catholic doctrine.

But many of the 60 parents who lined up at two microphones said they didn't want kindergartners hearing the words "sexual abuse" in a Catholic school.

"What would my little girls do with a question like: 'What is good touch and bad touch?'" said Laura Clark, a parent from Front Royal. "I don't want them even thinking about those things. I don't want any teacher, no matter how Catholic or well-intentioned, talking to children about these things."

"To circumvent parents and go to the children is damaging," said Anthony D'Andrea, also from Front Royal. "What is coming from Rome on this issue? Maybe we should focus on this."

Mr. D'Andrea was referring to "The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality," a 1995 Vatican document that specifies that parents "are the first and foremost educators of their children" on chastity. "Other educators can assist in this task," the document says, "but they can only take the place of parents for serious reasons of physical or moral incapacity."

Speaking in support of the proposed program, the Rev. Paul deLadurantaye, director of catechesis for the diocese, said children are told in "Good Touch, Bad Touch" not to let anyone touch them on parts of their bodies covered by a bathing suit or underwear.

"It says, 'Some people try to trick you or force you into showing your private parts,' " he said. "That's as detailed as we get."

Children also are taught, "It's my body God gave me" and to watch out for an "uh-oh" feeling that "tells us to ask questions of someone we feel safe with," Father deLadurantaye said. If children feel threatened, they must "say 'no' and get away."

Children then are instructed to talk with "someone who will believe me" and that "it's never my fault."

The program is described at and was created by Pam Church, a Catholic mother of six living near Atlanta. Preschoolers would get four 20-minute sessions, with the time allotments increasing each year to three sessions of one hour, 15 minutes each for fifth- and sixth-graders.

Parents will have the right to opt out of their children taking the program with no condemnation or penalty, Mrs. Church added.

"They don't need to have their children do it, but they should not impose those beliefs on others," she said. "I think some parents want to be the moral authority for everyone. We have good people who are extremely well-trained who can teach this program."

Those who teach the material must go through 3½ days of training at a cost of $225 per person. Parents of children in the diocese's 37 parochial schools and church religious education programs in 66 parishes also would be allowed to preview the program material, Father deLadurantaye said.

But parents objected that anyone wanting to read the materials had to come to diocesan offices where they would be supervised by a social worker while scanning the documents. Dawn Krynitsky, a Catholic mother from Manassas, suggested the curriculum was unworkable.

"How can I bathe my child and wash her hair when there's a teacher saying this is a bad touch because they don't have their bathing suit on?" she asked.

"Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have. The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases." - Thomas Jeff

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-26-2000
Sat, 01-17-2004 - 2:06pm
There is a lot of outrage going on about this very program on a blog that I read. preceded by a www if you want to check it out.

I agree that this should be the parents' job.

As part of Cub Scouts, we have talked about abuse some. But it has always been between parent and child. We have talked about very basic things - stranger danger, who they should ask for help if they are ever lost (a woman), things a stranger might say to entice them, and a bit about keeping their clothes on should anyone ever ask them to take them off.

The Boy Scouts also have a film that they recommend should be shown every year in every pack called "it happened to me", but our pack has never gone there - most thinking that it is too graphic for our kids. And as parents, that is our call to make.

I think it is also a parents' responsibility to keep their kids out of situations where abuse might occur and to look for red flags. I realize that things happen even with the best of intentions, but prevention can go a long way. One of the best books I read on this topic is called "Protecting the Gift" by Gavin deBecker. IMHO, it should be required reading for parents.



PJPIIadoration.jpg picture by Kimberly_sahm

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Sat, 01-17-2004 - 9:07pm
Oh this is choice(!):

"...but they should not impose those beliefs on others," she said. "I think some parents want to be the moral authority for everyone."

Isn't this what the creators of this kind of program is doing?? Argh!

Creating a safe environment for the kids is the *adult's* responsibility...i.e. making sure no child is alone with an adult, background checks, etc. NOT in robbing a kid's innocence.