Safe Environment Compliance
The Safe Environment program of the Archdiocese of Atlanta is a program in which clergy, employees and volunteers who work in the Archdiocese of Atlanta participate. This includes, but is not limited to bishops, priests, religious, seminarians, deacons, school personnel, parish employees, Chancery employees. Also included are volunteers who work or have contact with children, youth, and/or vulnerable individuals.
To be Safe Environment compliant a person must have passed a background screening through the Archdiocese of Atlanta and attended a live three (3) hour VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children (PGC) training session.
What is VIRTUS?
VIRTUS is a nationally recognized vendor utilized by 120 dioceses across the United States, offering a comprehensive program including Safe Environment training for adults, children and youth. VIRTUS also provides a convenient way for participants to register for training sessions. Please see the calendar below for upcoming training dates, times, and locations.
What is the VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children training session?
The VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children training incorporates proven best practice standards for the prevention of child sexual abuse by all who interact with children. Participants are made aware of the signs of child sexual abuse, the methods and means by which offenders commit abuse, and are presented with five steps to prevent child sexual abuse. Facilitators incorporate Archdiocesan policies and procedures into the training, defining child sexual abuse, and addressing the legal requirements of reporting child sexual abuse, along with the two videos that are a part of the session.
“The VIRTUS training program implements safety mechanisms that send a message to all abusers and potential abusers: Child Abuse is not tolerated. Children are vigilantly protected. Victims are listened to, heard, and shielded from further abuse. And offenders are identified and punished.” – VIRTUS website
Why am I required to attend a VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children training session?
The Archdiocese of Atlanta is committed to the safety and well-being of its children, youth, and vulnerable individuals. The program implements procedures to minimize risk while building and fostering a culture of a safety. It requires all clergy, all employees, and volunteers working with children, youth, and/or vulnerable individuals to attend the VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children training which is part of the comprehensive Safe Environment compliance program.
The Archdiocese does not tolerate abuse or neglect of anyone. It will comply with all obligations of civil and Canon Law; it will promote healing where it is needed, provide education, training and guidance when it is appropriate, and endeavor to prevent any abuse of minors or vulnerable adults with firm justice and mercy towards all.
Who must attend a VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children training session?
All clergy, all employees regardless of duties, and volunteers working with children and/or vulnerable individuals must attend a VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children training before they begin paid or volunteer work for the Archdiocese of Atlanta or within 60 days of their scheduled start date*.
*The 60 day grace period is ONLY applicable for employees who DO NOT work with children, youth, and/or vulnerable adults.
Continuing education training consists of monthly bulletins sent via email to select users (e.g. educators, youth ministers) after attending a VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children.
Individuals will be notified by the Safe Environment Coordinator at their location when it is time to renew their background screening and/or take the refresher course. Both the background screening and VIRTUS training are required to be renewed every five years.