CHARLESTON—Once again, the Diocese of Charleston has been found compliant with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
All U.S. dioceses and eparchies are audited every year with an on-site visit every third year. StoneBridge Business Partners spent two days at the chancery earlier this month reviewing documentation on how safe environment programs are run and how the charter is processed through the diocesan policy concerning allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse of a minor by church personnel. The auditors are engaged by the USCCB and are a private firm.
“Being in compliance means that we meet criteria set by the charter for creating and maintaining safe environments for children,” said Bonnie Sigers, manager of the Safe Environment program for the diocese. “There are 17 articles, the most well-known being the background screening and education piece, which we surpassed.”
The diocesan policy is derived from the charter and requires every employee and every volunteer with access to children to have a background screening and receive education on the prevention of sexual abuse of minors.
In the United States, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was established in 2002 by the U.S. bishops to create comprehensive procedures addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. It includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse by creating a safe environment for children and young people.
“The charter and the Diocese of Charleston believe the screening and educational components of our policy create an atmosphere where abuse is less likely to happen,” Sigers said. “We believe that we do directly impact incidences of child sexual abuse due to our safe environment program, and limiting access to those who work and volunteer with our children. And we do.”
For more information about the Safe Environment Program, diocesan policy or the charter, visit sccatholic.org/child-protection-services.