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Safe Environment Program
The Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic

Icon of Christ Blessing the Children written by Mr. Peter Dziouba

“Let the little children come to me…”
Luke 18:16

Our Commitment

The Byzantine Catholic Church of Passaic is dedicated to the realization of the special invitation of the Lord Jesus to our children and young people, “Let the little children come to me” (Luke 18:16).  To this end our Eparchy is committed to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth adopted by the Catholic Bishops of America in 2002.  The heart of this charter is a commitment on the part of the various dioceses and eparchies within the United States to providing a pastoral experience where the children and young people of our churches may come to Jesus through the ministry of His church in a safe, secure and healthy environment.

The Eparchy of Passaic is absolute in its commitment to provide such an environment where authentic faith development can flourish.  To this end the Eparchy of Passaic Safe Environment Program has been instituted.  All clergy and laity who serve within the eparchy are required to complete background checks and safe environment training.  This program is carried out through the local parish in conjunction with the Eparchy of Passaic Safe Environment in Ministry Office.

This segment of our eparchial website is presented in an effort to facilitate our Eparchy of Passaic Safe Environment Program and share with you some helpful information regarding child sexual abuse.  By our awareness and education we can protect our children and strive to prevent such sadness.  By our vigilance we can assure them of a ministerial environment that truly reflects the presence and love of God. 

Who and What of Abuse

Definition:    The exact legal definition of child sexual abuse varies from state to state, however it is most commonly understood as an intentional act committed by a person in a position of trust that harms or threatens to harm a minor’s physical or mental welfare.  Such abuse or harm can take place within the home, school, church or recreational and care environment.  The perpetrators may be individuals both known and unfamiliar who are adults, adolescents and even other children.

Targets:  The usual population of children who can be subject to sexual abuse includes preschoolers to adolescents, either pre-pubescent (prior to puberty) or pubescent (attained puberty), ranging in age from 0 to under 18 years.

Abusers:  They come from a large spectrum of society and are very often individuals of trust within children’s lives.  Such persons can include and are not limited to, parents, teachers, clergy, church workers or volunteers, coaches, police personnel, youth workers.  They can be parents of children, older children, married and unmarried.  Very often they themselves have been abused.

Effects:  Those abused, if untreated may well grow into adults whose lives are filled with anger, rage, callousness and cynicism, criminal behavior, drugs and disease.  Its effects are devastating and can have a life long effect upon its victims

Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

The following are some of the signs that a child may be the victim of abuse.

  • A fear of certain people or places.
  • The child may not want to be left alone with certain people.
  • Child may become quiet or distant around certain people.
  • Difficulty sleeping or unexplainable fears and anxiety.
  • Unusually distracted, “in their own world.”
  • Engages in sexually oriented play, writing, or drawing.
  • Sudden mood swings, insecurity or withdrawal.
  • Regresses and displays the behaviors of a younger age child such as bedwetting or thumb sucking.
  • New vocabulary with regard to body parts and functions.
  • Displays adult-like sexual activities with toys or other children.  Imitates sexual acts and behaviors.
  • Resistant to bathing, toileting, or removing clothes even at appropriate times and situations.
  • Unexplained injuries and frequent health problems.
  • Unexplained periods of panic or high anxiety.
  • Talks about “special secrets” with an adult.
  • Having unexplained money and toys.
  • Engages in self-destructive behaviors such as cutting or burning self; abuses drugs and alcohol.
  • Engages in sophisticated sexual behaviors.
  • Running away from home.
  • Displays notably poor self image.

 

Code of Conduct with Minors

The following code of conduct, adopted by the Eparchy of Passaic, is an essential tool for church personnel to carry on any ministry with minors (persons under the age of 18) within the eparchy.  It is directed at promoting open and trustworthy relationships between minors and adults.  It’s reference to “Church Personnel” is to be understood as including Bishops, Priests and Deacons, with faculties to function in the eparchy of Passaic, minor clerics, seminarians of the Eparchy, those enrolled in the Deaconate Formation Program, men and women religious working in the Eparchy, lay ecclesial ministers, employees, and volunteers.

  1. Those working with minors shall have training appropriate to their level of responsibility.
  2. Appropriate contact between church personnel and minors can contribute to a minor’s development and is a positive part of Church and ministry.
  3. Inappropriate contact between church personnel and minors can cause harm to a minor’s development and well-being, and should never occur.  Sexualized touch is never appropriate.  Contact that is “secret” is not appropriate.
  4. Those who work with minors should be aware that physical contact can be misconstrued.  They should be aware of a minor’s vulnerability as well as their own.
  5. Church personnel who work with minors should seek and receive eparchial approved training on appropriate and inappropriate physical contact with minors.
  6. Working alone with minors should be avoided unless dictated by pastoral need such as Holy Confession or spiritual counseling.  Adequate staffing should be available to manage emergency situations.  Great care should be taken to ensure that a safe environment is provided on those rare occasions when it is necessary to work alone with a minor.
  7. Driving alone with a minor should be avoided unless required by emergent need.
  8. Church personnel shall refrain from (a) the illegal possession and/or illegal use of alcohol and other drugs at all times, and (b) the use of alcohol when working with minors.
  9. Church personnel shall never provide minors with alcohol, illegal drugs, tobacco products, pornography or other inappropriate material.
  10. Church personnel shall never physically discipline minors.
  11. Designated living quarters of priests and religious are exclusively for their use.  It is permissible for close family members who are minors, with the consent of their parent or guardian, to have occasional overnight visits.  Other minors are permitted to visit overnight only when accompanied by his or her parent or guardian.  Exceptions to this policy are rare and requests with details must be made in writing to the Eparchial Bishop. 
  12. It is inappropriate for an adult to share a bed or a tent with a minor when on a trip.  Sharing a bedroom, other than a large group dormitory style room, should always be avoided.  Exceptions can be made for a parent or guardian who requests to room with his or her child.
  13. It is not appropriate for adult church personnel to date or give appearance of dating a minor.  Engage in sexualized contact with a minor, give significant gifts, or grant special privileges or opportunities to a specific minor.
  14. It is not appropriate for church personnel to accept expensive gifts from minors or their parents or guardians.  Any exceptions must be granted through the supervisor.
  15. Information provided on permission forms should be viewed or disclosed by church personnel only on a “need to know basis” or with permission.
  16. Church personnel who observe inappropriate contact or interaction with minors should report it immediately to a supervisor (Pastor, Religious Education Director, Youth Minister, activity coordinator) or the Eparchial Coordinator.  When there is reason to believe that abuse has occurred, the observer must make a report to the appropriate social services agency or the police.

Reporting Abuse

By who:

By virtue of our Christian responsibility we are all bound to report any and all suspicions of child abuse to the proper authorities.  In most states, with some variation, physicians and health professionals, psychologists and social workers, teachers, day care workers, law enforcement personnel, clergy (outside the priest-penitent relationship), church workers, foster parents, attorneys and youth workers are required by law to report suspected incidents of child abuse.
 
To who:

~  Appropriate parish or eparchial personnel

~  Local Child Protective Services (Agency)

~  Local Police

Helpful telephone numbers:

Eparchy of Passaic Safe Environment Program Coordinator
Rev. David Baratelli                                                                   (973) 890-7777

fr.dave.ewr@juno.com

National Child Abuse Hotline*……………..…...(800) 422-4453

*Proper child abuse reporting contact numbers for the
various states can be obtained by calling this number.

Victims’ Advocate:

Dr. Maureen Daddona, Ph. D.........................(516) 623-6456

 

 

Prepared by:
Office for a Safe Environment in Ministry
The Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic

 

The Eparchy of Passaic Web Site