Diocese gathering ammunition in the fight against abuse
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Editor’s Note: At the request of Bishop John Brungardt, the Catholic is presenting a series of articles on the current abuse crisis within the Catholic Church, as well as what we can do to make sure our children are protected from anyone who seeks them harm.
The Catholic Diocese of Dodge City is upping the ante when it comes to battling abuse—not just abuse against children, but elder abuse, abuse against those who have intellectual disabilities, abuse perpetrated by online predators, financial abuse, and physical and emotional abuse.
By utilizing a new system called CMGConnect, the results of which should be far-reaching with profound implications. The system presents methods that people can utilize to protect themselves and their loved ones. The system will also create a database of Church employees and volunteers, making sure they’re up-to-date on training sessions and background checks.
Over the last year, the diocese’s Safe Environment office has been migrating volunteers and employees into the new, advanced database.
CMGConnect, a subsidiary of Catholic Mutual Group, replaces the previous system utilized by the diocese, Virtus, a National Catholic Risk Retention organization. CMGConnect offers the benefit of quarterly background monitoring, as well as training sessions specific to the individual’s position, such as drivers, teachers (anti-bullying), etc.... At press time, employees had each taken more than 200 online lessons.
The monthly online training bulletins include important information on a key focus area, followed by a brief quiz.
The sessions are designed to protect children and adults from a wide range of abuses. For example, one lesson highlights the use of social media:
“Dangers of internet use, mobile devices and easy internet access can be useful tools for helping your children mature into adults of strong character. But, as with any tool, these devices and this increased accessibility carry with them certain grave dangers. You wouldn’t hand your child a chainsaw, show him how to start it, and then leave him alone and unsupervised in the woods. Similarly, as parents or other caring adults, it’s our responsibility to be aware of the dangers of the internet so we can guide our children in the proper use of these tools.”
The lesson goes on to present ways to help protect children from dangerous web sites. But it also provides ideas to increase positive communication with your child.
Another lesson discusses vulnerable adults – the elderly, people with disabilities – and the importance of protecting them from a wide arrange of abuses, including financial and physical abuse. What are the warning signs that an elderly loved one is being abused?
What are the warning signs that a child is being abused? If you notice one of the warning signs, what should you do?
The online bulletins are a follow-up to the three-hour on-site facilitator-led Protecting God’s Children Awareness Session required by employees and volunteers who work with children or youth in the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City.
In the last year alone—since July 1, 2018—approximately 375 people throughout the diocese had attended the three-hour live training session.
Additionally, more than 400 employees so far, including priests, religious, and DREs, have been required to complete an online renewal training and background check.
Eventually, all active volunteers in the diocese will be required to take the online training bulletins as well, and to submit a background check.
(Some recipients noted that they have turned the notifications away as SPAM, so be sure and add this to your approved incoming addresses.)
In 1993, the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City formed a Diocesan Review Board to carefully study, and then to act, in response to any sort of abuse issue that may arise, including sexual abuse. In 2003, after the breaking of the news in Boston of widespread clerical abuse, the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City voluntarily joined the nation-wide Safe Environment Program, an umbrella organization that oversees Protecting God’s Children, which includes required Awareness Sessions for all those working or volunteering for the Church. There also are annual audits to ensure the diocese is compliant with all requirements of the Safe Environment Program.