Safeguard the Children
Safeguard the Children is a comprehensive program designed to promote a safe environment for children, youth, and vulnerable adults and prevent child sexual abuse. The program was initiated in all dioceses in the United States at the direction of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
There is a Safeguard the Children (STC) Committee in each parish which helps to implement the objectives of the USCCB “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has produced an informative brochure entitled "Working Together" that provides resources on preventing abuse and information on reporting child abuse. You can find it along with more details on the policies and activities of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in “Protecting Our Children" at https://lacatholics.org/protect/.
You can also read the monthly bulletin put out by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at: www.lacatholics.org/did-you-know/
Safe Environment - The Archdiocese and our parish community stand resolute in our commitment to reporting allegations of sexual misconduct to law enforcement, supporting victim-survivors, and protecting children and the vulnerable.
Through the Safeguard the Children Program, St. Mark works to maximize the Archdiocese's efforts by educating and making adults more aware of healthy ways children and adults interact.
VIRTUS® Protecting God’s Children™ Program
VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children Adult Awareness Session is a three-hour training that helps clergy, staff, volunteers, and parents to understand the facts and myths about child sexual abuse, how perpetrators operate, and how caring adults can take five essential steps to keep children safe. The session also stresses monitoring computers, cell phones, and other technology perpetrators use to gain access to children and young people. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles mandates all staff, whether paid or volunteer, and all volunteers who work in any capacity with or around children, the elderly, or people with special needs are required to complete the initial three-hour VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children for Adults program.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles Fingerprinting Department accepts a fingerprint applicant as long as the person can prove their identity. Live Scan Operators will continue to check the validity of an applicant’s photo identification as suggested forms of primary and secondary identification(s) as outlined in the California Department of Justice Guidelines for Submitting Applicant Live Scan Transactions (rev.07212017). Any foreign government-issued photo ID cards such as Mexico’s Matricula Consular, El Salvador’s Documento Único de Identidad, Nicaragua’s Cédula de Identidad, or a similar internationally recognized document is acceptable. This changes the requirement to provide proof of legal status.
(Note: In the past, the department has not fingerprinted applicants who cannot furnish proof of legal status in the United States.)
Through the Empowering God’s Children program, we educate children and young people to know they have the power to protect themselves from harmful or threatening situations and always aim to keep themselves safe and healthy.
Requirements for Parish Clergy, Staff, and Volunteers at St. Mark
- All volunteers, clergy, and staff, regardless of whether they work with or around children, must attend a VIRTUS, “Protecting God’s Children,” adult awareness training session.
- Any volunteer who supervises or is perceived to supervise children must submit a background check in the form of fingerprinting by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. You can sign up for free for LiveScan fingerprinting.
- Parish staff are required to submit to a background check in the form of fingerprinting by the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
- All St. Mark School, Religious Education, and Teen Confirmation Preparation students will participate annually in the” Empowering God’s Children” or other approved safe environment education program.
- All St. Mark volunteers must read and agree to follow the GUIDELINES FOR ADULTS INTERACTING WITH MINORS AT PARISH/SCHOOL ACTIVITIES OR EVENTS
- All minors volunteering at St. Mark must read and agree to follow the BOUNDARY GUIDELINES AND CODE OF CONDUCT FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL YOUTH WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING WITH CHILDREN OR YOUTH
- For a schedule of VIRTUS sessions and fingerprinting, please get in touch with Susan Lewis at 310-821-5058 or [email protected]
Reporting Child Abuse and Elder or Vulnerable Adult Abuse
It is essential that everyone report suspected child or elder abuse. If you ever encounter alleged abuse, we urge you to call the Los Angeles County Child Protection Hotline at (800) 540-4000. The hotline is operated twenty-four hours, around the clock, seven days a week. You don’t need to know that child abuse or neglect is taking place; you are welcome to report your suspicions and consult with a social worker if you are not clear whether what you are witnessing or have learned of is abuse. Depending on your profession, you might even be legally obligated to report suspected child abuse and neglect, a so-called “mandated reporter.” But you can make your report anonymously if you are not a mandated reporter.
Priests, deacons, school faculty and administrators, and other staff members in our parish and schools have been designated as mandated reporters under California law. When one of these persons receives information leading to a “reasonable suspicion” that a child is being abused or neglected, they must make a report to the appropriate child protection or law enforcement agency. For more information on Responding to an Allegation of Suspected Child Abuse, visit this site: https://lacatholics.org/departments-ministries/protecting-children/
If you are being abused, have been abused, or know someone who is being abused and needs assistance making a report, call Victims Assistance Ministry at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at (800) 355.2545.
You may also seek help directly by contacting one of the Child Protective Services or the Law Enforcement Agencies listed below. In an emergency, call 911.
- LA County Child Abuse Hotline
- Investigative Control Unit for All Child Abuse Reports
- Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Special Victims Bureau (24 hours)
To speak to a detective
- District Attorney’s Office
Sexual Crimes Division
Family Violence Division
- For callers residing outside of California who wish to contact Child Protective Services in Los Angeles
Safeguard the Children Committee
St. Mark has an active SGTC Committee. Members of the SGTC committee include the Pastor, Director of Religious Education, the School Principal, the Safety Committee chair, the Confirmation Coordinator, and the Virtus/Fingerprinting coordinator. Meetings are held quarterly or more often as needed. For more information or if you have an interest in joining the committee, email [email protected]