Safe Environment Training

Safe Environment Training Program for Children and Young People

Circle of GraceBishop Kevin W. Vann, J.C.D., D.D. has stated that nothing is more important than protecting our children and youth. Since 2002 the Diocese of Orange has focused their efforts to better achieve that sacred duty. In response to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, our schools and parishes have incorporated child abuse prevention training for children and adults. This training coupled with background screening of all adults working with children and youth has proven a powerful tool against sexual abuse of our most precious members, the children and youth of our diocese.

Bishop Kevin W. Vann, J.C.D., D.D. has promulgated the Circle of Grace curriculum for grades K-8 to be used in all our parish religious education programs. This curriculum has been reviewed and approved by the Bishop and he has found it to be an excellent program which contributes to the protection of our young children and affirms them as beloved children of God. Bishop Vann is happy that the parishes in the Diocese of Orange will be benefiting from this new, sound and up to date Safe Environment curriculum.  

The Circle of Grace program was developed by the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska.  The program includes teaching a culture of respect and faith that goes beyond mere protection. The program helps children and young people understand their own sacredness, the sacredness of others, and how to seek help through their relationships with trusted adults.

The Circle of Grace program is meant to supplement and be integrated into the excellent programs and curricula for the formation of children and young people in religious education programs.  Circle of Grace aims to equip our children and young people by arming them with essential knowledge and skills grounded in the richness of our faith. This program helps children and young people to understand their own (and other’s) dignity in mind, body, and spirit.

What is a Circle of Grace?
The Catholic Church teaches that God has created each of us as unique and special.  Genesis 1:27 tells us that we are created “male and female in God’s image” and that God saw this as “very good.” In that goodness, we are meant to respect ourselves and everyone else as persons created and loved by God.

Adults assist children and young people to recognize God’s love by helping them to understand that each of us lives and moves in a Circle of Grace. You can imagine your own Circle of Grace by putting your arms above your head then circle down in front of your body including side to side. This circle, front to back, holds who you are in your body and through your senses. It holds your very essence in mind, heart, soul, and sexuality.

Why is it important to help our children understand the Circle of Grace?
God intends our relationships in life to be experiences of divine love. Respectful, nurturing, loving relationships increase our understanding of our own value and help us to love others. It is never too early to help children and young people understand how very special they are and how relationships in life are called to be sacred. Understanding this can help them to protect the special person they are and to be respectful of others.

Adults, especially parents, as they strive to provide a safe and protective environment, hold the responsibility to help children and young people understand and respect their own dignity and that of others. A truly safe and protective environment is one where children and young people recognize when they are safe or unsafe and know how to bring their concerns, fears, and uncertainties to the trusted adults in their lives.

How is the Circle of Grace Program different from other protection programs?
According to research, one in four girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused by age eighteen.  Many protection programs focus on “stranger danger”; however, up to ninety percent (90%) of the time the perpetrator of abuse is known to the child or young person such as a relative or family friend. Circle of Gracegoes beyond just protection by helping children and young people understand the sacredness of who they are and how to seek help through their relationships with trusted adults.

Safe Environment Training Dates for Children and Young People
January 2014 has been designated as safe environment training month for children and young people.  Dates for safe environment trainings are:

  • Sunday, January 12, 2014 during the 9:15 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Masses for Pre-School and Kindergarten through 5th grade
  • Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. for 1st grade through 6th grade.
  • Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. for Jr. High (7th grade and 8th grade).

Important Information on Circle of Grace Program
The following reflects importation information regarding the Circle of Grace program.  Take the time to familiarize yourself with the safe environment training program that will be presented to the children and young people in our parish.  The documents listed below provide important information for parents and guardians regarding the Circle of Grace program.