Child sexual abuse is a worldwide public health issue. Child abuse, particularly child
sexual abuse, is reprehensibleespecially when the wrongdoer is affiliated with the
Church. The VIRTUS® programs assist the Church in being a safe haven for children and
a messenger for preventing child sexual abuse within the Church and society in general.
We seek to achieve this lofty goal through our child sexual abuse prevention
program: Protecting God's Children®.
The Protecting God's Children Program
Most organizations that work with children have some sort of child safety program. Through the
Protecting God’s Children program, we maximize those efforts by helping churches and religious
organizations refine their roles as child-safe environments and empowering caring adults to
Why Does It Work?
Child abusers seek to operate and abuse their power within nurturing, child-friendly
environments where it is assumed that nobody would want to harm a child. Religious
organizations of all faiths are an easy target. The Protecting God's Children 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.
By utilizing best practices for training and loss prevention, the Protecting God's Children
program helps make churches safe for all peopleespecially children.
How Does It Work?
Maximizing a church's role as a child-safe environment begins with making adults more aware
of the ways children and adults interact with each other. The Protecting God's Children
program educates and trains adults (clergy, religious, teachers, staff, volunteers, and
parents) about the dangers of abuse, the warning signs of abuse, the ways to prevent abuse,
the methods of properly reporting suspicions of abuse, and responding to allegations
All VIRTUS training programs, including the PROTECTING GOD'S CHILDREN programs, are
comprehensive and multi-dimensionalincorporating proven best practice standards for the
prevention of child sexual abuse by clergy, staff, volunteers, and others who interact with
children within the church environment. Our training programs incorporate instructor-led
training, train-the-facilitator education, awareness videos, and ongoing web-based training through online training
bulletins and training modules via our VIRTUS Online system.
Using The Church To Protect Children
For any organization, the best practice to prevent wrongdoing, including child sexual abuse, is to
have an organization use its own people to facilitate awareness of the issue. The Protecting
God’s Children program begins with the training of internal facilitators—individuals selected by
the archdiocese, diocese, or religious organization to train other adults and parents on how to
best protect children. We use facilitator-led awareness sessions and continuous online training so
that participants learn the best methods for delivering their message, including the training for the
Protecting God’s Children program.
Training Adults To Protect Children
We begin by making adults of the Church that interact with children aware of how to protect
children. Our Protecting God’s Children program for adults is a three-hour live awareness session
instructing adults of the Church that to protect children you must have continuous awareness and
vigilance. This awareness session makes trainees understand the signs of child sexual abuse,
the methods and means by which offenders commit abuse, and five empowerment steps one can
use to prevent child sexual abuse. Continuing online training is a valuable component of the
Protecting God’s Children program for the continued awareness of child abuse.