A R C H D I O C E S E  O F  N E W A R K
"Teaching Touching Safety"

TO:  Pastors and Administrators, Principals and School Administrators
FROM: Rosemarie Petraglia, Director, Office of Child and Youth Protection
RE:  Protecting God’s Children Program for Children
 “Teaching Touching Safety” 
DATE: October 5, 2005 

Safe Environment Programs for Children
As part of our compliance with the US Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Archdiocese of Newark incorporates sexual abuse awareness training for all children in Catholic elementary and high schools, and parish Religious Education programs.

"Teaching Touching Safety"
The program that we use in Catholic elementary and high schools is the Protecting God's Children - Teaching Touching Safety program from Virtus/National Catholic Risk Retention Group. It is a companion program to the Protecting God's Children training that we offer adult staff and volunteers in the Archdiocese. However, its presentation and timeframes are different. While the Protecting God's Children Program for Adults is video-based, and presents victims and perpetrators, Teaching Touching Safety uses classroom lesson plans with information centered in our faith. The classroom teacher will conduct these lessons (generally, two lessons of about 30-40 minutes in length) as part of regular Religion classes.

About Teaching Touching Safety
The Protecting God's Children programs were developed consistent with these guidelines established by the Church. These programs assume that the primary education of children is in the hands of the parents and that responsible, thoughtful, classroom instruction that enters into "the same spirit that animates the parents" can enhance and reinforce the parents' teaching and increase the child's ability to resist the overtures of potential child molesters.

Teaching Touching Safety is not sex education and is not intended to be a substitute for the responsibility of parents in educating their children in the area of human sexuality and love. Rather, through the program, teachers, catechists, and youth ministers become partners with parents in assuring that all of God's children have the tools they need to protect themselves and to resist the overtures of potential persons in the community who might want to prey on them.

Teaching Touching Safety is a two-lesson, age-specific program that talks about boundaries. Through the program, children will learn how boundaries are established in relationships, and where the risks of boundary violations arise. The program is divided into lessons for children in grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-10. For this first year of this program, however, we ask that students in grades 11 and 12 also receive the training established for grades 9 and 10.

Training For Parish Religious Education Programs
Providing similar training and education for more than 54,000 Catholic children in our parish-based religious education programs who attend public elementary, middle and high schools within the Archdiocese also has been a concern. As with the program implemented in our schools, we wanted to ensure that the subject of sexual abuse awareness would be addressed in an age-appropriate way. What's more, any program of this type offered to children would not have to compete for time with the requirements of the religious education program, and thus short-change both programs.

The Child Assault Prevention, or CAP, Program is a state-funded program currently used in public schools in New Jersey. As an official program in the state's efforts to prevent child abuse, CAP office staff in every county work with each school district to provide training to students and staff regularly on this important, sensitive subject, and works as part of the regular curriculum. Like Teaching Touching Safety in the Catholic schools, CAP addresses the subject in an age-appropriate fashion, is supported by local public school administration, and complements existing curriculum in school.

Each individual school district schedules its CAP program according to its own schedule, so the Archdiocese urges parents to be in touch with theirlocal boards of education or school principals to find out when, with the assistance of the CAP office in their county, the local public school is scheduled to receive this educational program.

Although CAP is the primary program available in public schools, some local districts make use of programs that are similar to CAP, and members of the district's own teaching or guidance staffs typically conduct them as part of their regular curriculum. Because such programs are similar in content to CAP and are funded with public funds from the district, they also are acceptable to the Archdiocese.

Together, through programs like Teaching Touching Safety and CAP and similar programs, Catholics can advocate for increased awareness and safety for all children.

Accompanying this memo are all of the materials needed to undertake the program in your school. 

They consist of:

Teaching Touching Safety Guidebook, which you can make available to Parents
              [ English | Spanish ]
Overview of the Program for Teachers [ English | Spanish ]
Lesson Plans for Teachers [ Available to Archdiocesan Schools staff only ]
A Sample Opt-in Form for Parents [ English ] [ Spanish ]
A Sample Opt-Out Form for Parents [English ] [ Spanish ]
Course Completed Form (to be filled out by School Principal) 

You will note that all materials are available in both English and Spanish, with the exception of the general “Opt-In Form for Parents” and the Course Completion Form. 

A short (about 5-minute long), grade-specific video introduction will be sent to each principal under separate cover (to be delivered within the next week).   It can be used to open the first session and set the tone for the training.

Timetable for Implementing
We know that Teaching Touching Safety is an assignment that is in addition to your school’s regular teaching program, and appreciate the additional work that will be required of everyone at your school to complete it.  The total classroom time to be expended should not exceed 1 hours (slightly longer when the K-2 lesson on Private Body Parts is included).  Although we realize the time frame is narrow, we would appreciate that your school implement the program as soon as possible and have it completed by the third week of October.   

When you have completed the program, please submit the COMPLETED form by fax to the attention of Rosemarie Petraglia at 973-497-4018.

I am sure after you have read through the materials that some of you will have questions, and I will be more than happy to speak with you about them.  You may reach me during the day by phone at 973-497-4011 or by email at petragro@rcan.org.  

Thank you for your patience, your devotion, and your talents as we work to promote safe environments for the children of our Archdiocesan schools.

Protecting Our Children

Archdiocese of Newark, 171 Clifton Ave., Newark, NJ 07104-0500