The Diocese of Helena is committed to the care and safety of children and vulnerable adults. Materials posted on the diocesan website represent components of a comprehensive plan to ensure the care and the safety of those we serve.
Safe Environment Practices:
- A Criminal Background Check is required for all personnel, volunteer and paid, before interaction in programs with minors.
- All personnel involved in programs with minors, must attend a comprehensive training program for adults. The program includes recognizing and reporting signs/possible signs of abuse. Continued training includes monthly bulletins for all priests, deacons, lay employees and volunteers working with children or vulnerable adults.
- The Virtus safe environment program, is conducted for children in all parishes. Children learn how to identify and report inappropriate conduct. Age appropriate materials include touching safety; safe friends and adults; boundaries; telling someone who is trusted; recognizing risky adult behavior sometimes known as “grooming”; Internet safety; and creating and following family rules.
- Both the diocese and parishes are required to keep accurate records on training and background checks. All volunteers who work with children, in any capacity, and all paid staff are trained through the Virtus program. Parishes are required to keep records of youth attendance of safe environment lessons and to visibly post materials in the parish instructing parishioners how to effectively report abuse/suspicion of abuse.
- The Diocese of Helena has established a Diocesan Response Team to conduct immediately the initial investigation of any allegation of sexual abuse received by the diocese. As stated in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, “Dioceses will have a competent person or persons to coordinate assistance for the immediate pastoral care of persons who claim to have been sexually abused as minors by clergy or other church personnel.”
- The Diocese of Helena has established a Diocesan Review Board. As stated in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, “Dioceses will have a review board that functions as a confidential consultative body to the bishop… The majority of its members will be lay persons not in the employ of the diocese… It will regularly review diocesan policies and procedures for dealing with sexual abuse of minors. Also, the board can review those matters both retrospectively and prospectively and give advice on all aspects of responses required in connection with these cases.”
- An outside audit is conducted annually to ensure compliance with the Diocesan Safe Environment Policy Regarding Abuse of Minors, Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People laid out by the U.S. Catholic Bishops. The audit is conducted on-site every three years.
Diocese of Helena Policy Regarding Abuse of Minors, Sexual Misconduct & Sexual Harassment
The Diocesan Safe Environment Policy Regarding Abuse of Minors, Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment(PDF*) conforms to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People agreed to by the U.S. Bishops.
All questions, concerns or allegations related to sexual abuse in the Diocese of Helena should be directed to the Victim’s Advocate for the Diocese of Helena. Any person who believes that a minor has been abused by a cleric, church worker or volunteer is encouraged to report the incident to the Victim’s Advocate. All information received will be treated with confidentiality. All alleged victims are advised of their right to report the alleged abuse to public authorities.
Safe Environment Contact:
Sr. Rita McGinnis