Safe Environment Weekly Update – January 25, 2022
Each week the Office of Safe Environments will post a frequently asked question or tip on the topic of child safety, abuse prevention, VIRTUS training, mandatory reporting, criminal background checks, victim assistance, vulnerable adults and information from our Safe Environments Handbook.
If you have a question related to any of these topics, you are not alone and others may benefit. Please send your questions or suggestions for a weekly topic to Erin Neil, L.C.S.W, director of Safe Environments and Victim Assistance Coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203.650.3265.
Did you know?
The Diocese of Bridgeport Safe Environment Handbook includes information on supervision for Church and School related activities. One of the most common questions we receive is the age requirements for supervision in a classroom.
As stated on Page 23 of the Diocese of Bridgeport Safe Enviroment Handbook:
4.2 No minor or young Adult (18-20) may have principal responsibility for supervising or carrying out a church-related activity without two Adults (21 years of age or over) present. You may have a minor assistant catechist in a classroom, however, a cleared Adult who is age 21 or older must be physically present in that immediate room and there must be a second cleared Adult in close proximity such as a hall monitor or a classroom immediately across the hallway.
In schools it may be tempting to leave an older student in charge of a classroom to quickly use the restroom however, this could place children at risk. Accidents can happen in a split second and leaving minors unattended could result in a finding of child neglect. Be sure to identify a safe adult who is able to cover for your classrooms as needed.
It is important that adults who have experience working with children are fully in charge of supervising every classroom and afterschool program with minors. A 16 or17 year-old may certainly provide instruction to younger students however, they are still minors which means that an adult who has cleared a criminal background check and has attended VIRTUS training must also be in that same room at all times and a second “cleared” adult must be close by in an emergency. Close proximity means that the second adult must be able to hear and see the adult in charge and have view of the classroom through an open door, a hallway or through a window. One of the best ways to accomplish this is for the adult in the room to position their desk or seat to maximize visibility.
To report abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult or an incident of child pornography in the Diocese of Bridgeport involving any person from the Church, call DCF at: 1.800.842.2288 and Erin Neil, L.C.S.W. at: 203.650.3265 or Michael Tintrup L.C.S.W. at: 203.241.0987. You may also contact a Third-Party reporting hotline at: www.lighthouse-services.com/diobpt or call: 833.990.0004or fill out a written report of abuse or neglect at the following link: www.bridgeportdiocese.org/safe-environments/incident-report-of-an-allegation-of-abuse-or-misconduct.