VIRTUS PROTECTING GOD’S CHILDREN is an awareness program on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention and a requirement for all parents in AMS and SRE, as well as all liturgical ministers and volunteers in the parish. The course certification is valid for four years.
Safeguard the Children is a comprehensive program designed to promote a safe environment for children, youth and vulnerable adults and prevent child sexual abuse. The program was initiated in all dioceses in the United States at the direction of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). There is a Safeguard the Children (STC) Committee in each parish which helps to implement the objectives of the USCCB “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People”.
VIRTUS PROTECTING GOD’S CHILDREN session will be offered on the following
- To find VIRTUS courses offered, Follow the Finding a VIRTUS Session information.
- Recertification is an online course offered by the County of Los Angeles. For info on accessing the course, contact Patti Williams.
Reporting Child Abuse
It is important that everyone report suspected child abuse. The truth is that our first inclination is to not get involved, but if you fail to act, that is all it takes for abuse or neglect to continue.
If you ever come across suspected abuse, we urge you to call the Los Angeles County Child Protection Hotline at 800-540-4000. The hotline is operated twenty-four hours, seven days a week.
You don’t need to know that child abuse or neglect is taking place. You are welcome to report your suspicions and consult with a social worker if you are not clear whether what you are witnessing or have learned of is abuse. Depending on your profession, you might even be legally obligated to report suspected child abuse and neglect, a so-called “mandated reporter.” But if you are not a mandated reporter, you can make your report anonymously.
Five Ways YOU can help prevent child abuse
Come participate in our "Protecting God's Children" VIRTUS class to learn how to recognize and prevent child, teen and elder abuse. Classes are free and you will be the eyes and ears of our community, protecting those who are most vulnerable. Scheduled class dates and times at American Martyrs parish are published in our weekly bulletin or see virtusonline.org to register for a class in our area.
Please get fingerprinted if you supervise children at American Martyrs parish! We need 100% compliance so when you agree to do so voluntarily it makes our goal much easier to meet. You then become a model for others! Sign up for free archdiocesan LiveScan fingerprinting at one of the LiveScan locations. To have your fingerprinting done at one of the LiveScan locations, please contact Patti Williams to obtain a LiveScan form to take with with you to your appointment.
If you volunteer in any capacity with or around children at American Martyrs parish (or any parish in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles), you are required to review, sign and observe the Archdiocese of Los Angeles "Guidelines for Adults Interacting with Minors at Parish or School Activities or Events." The forms should be returned to the School of Religious Education Office.
If you observe abuse, or something that may be abuse, report it! Failing to act allows the abuse or neglect to continue. See paragraph above on how to report abuse or read the following brochure "Working Together". If you have a "reasonable suspicion" that a child, teen or elder is being abused in any way, you should report it to the police or to the Child Protection Hotline (1-800-540-4000).
Discuss with your child the "Teaching Touching Safety" lessons they learn in American Martyrs School or Religious Education classes. That way you know they will understand how to protect themselves from abuse and exploitation.
Priests, deacons, school faculty and administrators and other staff members in our parishes and schools have been designated as mandated reporters under California law. When one of these persons receives information leading to a “reasonable suspicion” that a child is being abused or neglected, he or she must make a report to the appropriate child protection or law enforcement agency.
For more information on Responding to an Allegation of Suspected Child Abuse see www.la-archdiocese.org/org/protecting/vam. If you are being abused, have been abused, or know someone who is being abused, you can call Victims Assistance Ministry at: 800-355-2545 for assistance to make a report. You may also seek help directly by contacting one of the Child Protective Services or one of the Law Enforcement Agencies listed below.
In an emergency call 911.
Los Angeles County:
- LA County Child Abuse Hotline: 800-540-4000
- For callers residing outside the State of California who wish to contact Child
- Protective Services in Los Angeles: 213-639-4500
- Investigative Control Unit for All Child Abuse Reports: 213-486-0530
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department:
- Special Victims Bureau (24 hours) 562-946-8531
- To speak to a detective 562-946-7960
District Attorney’s Office:
- Sexual Crimes Division 213-974-9790
- Family Violence Division 213-974-3785
Requirements for Parish Clergy, Staff & Volunteers
In accord with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, American Martyrs parish leadership and Safeguard the Children Committee have developed Policies and Procedures for all volunteers at American Martyrs.
- All American Martyrs volunteers must read and agree to follow the “Guidelines for Adults Interacting with Minors at Parish or Parish School Activities or Events.”
- All minors volunteering at American Martyrs must read and agree to follow the “Boundary Guidelines For Junior High and High School Youth Working or Volunteering with Children or Youth.”
- All volunteers who work with or around children in any way are required to attend a VIRTUS session, “Protecting God’s Children” adult awareness training session.
- Anyone who supervises or is perceived to supervise children in any way is required to submit to a background check in the form of fingerprinting by the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Sign up for free archdiocesan Live Scan fingerprinting at one of the Live Scan locations. To have your fingerprinting done at one of the LiveScan locations, please contact Patti Williams to obtain a Live Scan form to take with with you to your appointment.
- All American Martyrs School and SRE students will take part annually in the ”Teaching Touching Safety” or other approved safe environment education program.
Safeguard the Child Committee
American Martyrs parish has an active STC Committee chaired by a parishioner. Other members include the Director of Religious Education, the school principal, school athletic director, Weekday Preschool Director, the Director of Youth Ministry, the Director of the Sunday Preschool, and two or more other volunteers to complete the group. Meetings are held quarterly or more often as needed.
- To provide education and mandated training for all staff and volunteers to promote a heightened awareness of their role and responsibility regarding the safety of children, youth and vulnerable adults.
- To provide training to all children in the school and Religious Education programs to help them know how to respect their bodies, trust their self-protective instincts and learn when and how to seek adult help.
- To provide an annual parish-wide educational event during Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.
- To perform an annual self-assessment of the compliance of the parish to the regulations of the Safeguard the Children Program of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
- Archdiocese of Los Angeles
- Boundary Guidelines for Junior High and High School Youth Working or Volunteering with Children or Youth
- Education and Training Programs for Adults, Youth and Children in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
- Guidelines for Adults Interacting with Minors at Parish or Parish School Activities or Events
- Live Scan Locations
- Megan's Law
- Protecting Our Children Programs, Support & Information from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
- Virtus Online Training
- Virtus Training Registration
- Why Am I Here and What is My Role in Protecting Children? A handout for participants describing the background of the "Protecting God’s Children" program and the prescribed role for adults in the faith community.
- Working Together Brochure - Keeping Ministerial Relationship Healthy and Holy
Virtus Training & Recertification & Upcoming Classes
The VIRTUS training awareness program in prevention of child sexual abuse is a requirement for all adults in contact with children on our parish campus.
Parents in AMS, Preschool and SRE are required to attend the awareness sessions. Also required are all adult Eucharistic ministers, ushers, sacristans, lectors and rectory or parish center volunteers, and all volunteers with youth in our parish..
The initial VIRTUS training, "Protecting God’s Children" is a 3 hour session
"Renewing the Promise" is a 1.5 hour recertification session due every 4 years after initial training.