It’s official: the Diocese of Charleston is in compliance with the National Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
Father Titus Fulcher, director of the Office of Child Protection Services, said they received notification recently from the National Review Board of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
According to the audit, the diocese is in compliance with all audited areas, although some areas were noted for strengths and others for weaknesses.
Father Titus said the reviewers were impressed with the members of the diocesan sexual abuse advisory board and their qualifications. This is the board that hears and assesses all allegations.
The audit also praised the proactive goals of the diocese and its outreach efforts to the Hispanic community, such as having a Spanish translation of the sexual abuse policy.
Father Titus said the policy was not translated into other languages, such at Vietnamese, but translators are available should anyone within those communities have questions.
One area that the audit cited as needing improvement involved the participation of parents and children in safe environment training, the priest said.
The review board suggested the diocese provide more detailed information to parents letting them know what the training involves and that it’s conducted in an age-appropriate manner.
Father Titus explained that the diocese can send training material to the parents for their approval. Parents can even opt to teach the safe environment material to their children themselves.
“Being vigilant is just part of life,” Father Titus said. “We love our children; we want to protect our children. You hold their hand when you cross the street … and this is just part of that same protection.”
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone said safe environment training has absolutely nothing to do with sex education.
He encourages parents to preview the material and be part of the presentation.
“The more we can equip children to deal with the possibility of danger, the better off they’re going to be,” the bishop said. “It’s for the safety of the children.”
He reiterated that parents have every right to teach the material themselves. Father Titus said the goal of his office is to make safe environment awareness so commonplace that it will be second nature, like the rules of a fire drill.
To contact the Office of Child Protection Services visit www.catholicdoc.org.