Icon of Christ Blessing the Children
written by Mr. Peter Dziouba
“Let the little children come to me…”
The Byzantine Catholic Church of Passaic is dedicated to the realization of this special invitation of the Lord Jesus to our children and young people. 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 and particular state child protection laws. The heart of the USCCB 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.
To assure this possibility we must be a community that is tireless in its efforts to provide such an environment where authentic faith development can flourish. The child abuse scandal was a terrible chapter in the life of the church. Its impact upon the ministry of the church with children and youth was devastating. However, it would be an even greater tragedy if we were to allow the brokenness of disease and sin to continue to put our children at risk and impede their life in God.
Important Contact Information:
Safe Environment Coordinator:
Fr. David J. Baratelli, Ed.S., M.Div.: (732) 280-2682
Victim Assistance Coordinator
Dr. Maureen Daddona, Ph.D: (516) 623-6456
National Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 422-4453
Eparchy of Passaic: (973) 890-7777
The following is intended to provide some helpful and important 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 an environment that truly reflects the presence and love of God.
Who and What of Abuse
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 which 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.
Further, in law, the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C.A. – 5106g), defines child sexual abuse as “the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct. The rape, and in case of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children.” Child sexual abuse is criminal behavior and is subject to criminal penalties under the law.
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.
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.
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.
Eparchy of Passaic Sexual Misconduct Policy Involving Children:
It is the policy of the Eparchy of Passaic that sexual misconduct by personnel of the Eparchy involving children while performing the work of the Eparchy is outside the scope of the duties and employment of all personnel of the Eparchy and is contrary to Christian principles. All personnel must comply with the terms of the Eparchy of Passaic Sexual Misconduct Policy and all applicable state child protection laws regarding incidents of actual or suspected sexual misconduct involving children.
This policy establishes requirements and procedures in an effort to prevent sexual misconduct by eparchial clergy, religious, employees and volunteers involving children and young people. This policy is to be applied within the context of any applicable civil or canon law.
Education / Training Requirement:
Priests, deacons, minor clerics, seminarians, vowed religious, volunteers, youth directors and staff are required to attend designated educational programs on methods of recognizing and preventing sexual misconduct involving children or others.
All clergy, religious, seminarians, employees and volunteers, within the eparchy, having regular contact with children or minors must complete a criminal background check in compliance with the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and as may be required under particular state law. Such a background check is required even if the volunteer has completed one in another jurisdiction or by reason of employment outside the Eparchy.
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.
If it is suspected that a child is being abused or a child has disclosed alleged abuse, notification should be made immediately to the parish Pastor/Administrator or appropriate eparchial personnel.
The eparchial attorney, at the direction of the Bishop, will insure that appropriate notification is made to police and child protection agencies. It should be noted that every state has a toll free hotline. The National Child Abuse Hotline, to report abuse or find assistance with regard to a possible case of abuse, is listed herein.
In most states, with some variation, doctors, nurses, dentists, mental health professionals, social workers, teachers, day care workers, law enforcement personnel, clergy (outside the priest-penitent relationship), church personnel, foster parents, attorneys and youth workers are required by law to report suspected incidents of child abuse.
Investigation of Incident Reports:
Any investigation will be carried out by appropriate civil and canonical authorities. The police investigation shall be primary and only upon its conclusion shall a canonical investigation be initiated. The Eparchy of Passaic will cooperate fully with all police authorities in any investigation of allegations of abuse.
A high level of Christian care, concern and confidentiality will be exercised regarding the alleged victim, the family of the alleged victim, the person reporting the incident, and the alleged perpetrator in any investigation. Care will be taken to insure, as is possible, that any investigation does not casually call into question anyone’s good name.
Investigation of Incident Reports:
Any investigation shall be carried out by appropriate civil and canonical authorities. The police investigation shall be primary and only upon its conclusion shall a canonical investigation be initiated.
Anonymous or False Accusations:
No accusations should be made anonymously, since anonymous accusations do not allow for proper investigation. Both civil and canon law provide penalties for falsehood in which individuals become victims of false denunciation and slander.
For further information or assistance regarding the Eparchy of Passaic safe environment program please contact Father David J. Baratelli at the number listed above.
The Office for a Safe Environment in Ministry
The Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic
445 Lackawanna Avenue
Woodland Park, New Jersey 07424
Form: 8 Sept 2018