Sept. 19, 2019
By Mark Zimmerman
The Archdiocese of Washington’s Child Protection Policy was instituted in 1986 as one of the first such policies in the nation and has been used as a model for dioceses nationwide. The policy – which covers healing, reporting and prevention of abuse – was updated in 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2013 to incorporate enhancements in child protection mandates and oversight.
And in July 2019, the policy was again revised, with a new title that reflects its expanded scope, as the archdiocese’s Child Protection and Safe Environment Policy, to emphasize the importance of ensuring safe environments for people of all ages, protecting children from sexual abuse and adults from sexual harassment or abuses of power.
“Adding safe environment (provisions to the policy) is a game changer for the Church. It is showing community members that there is zero tolerance for abuse, regardless if you’re (victimized as) a child or an adult,” said Courtney Chase, the executive director of the Office of Child Protection and Safe Environment for the Archdiocese of Washington. “…It (the policy) is enhanced, because it incorporates safe environment and protection of all children as well as all adults.”
The revised policy’s introduction makes that expanded scope clear, stating, “All people – children and adults – have the right to be safe and protected from harm in any and all environments – home, school, religious institutions, neighborhoods, and communities. The Archdiocese of Washington embraces this right to safety and is dedicated to promoting and ensuring the protection of all children entrusted to our care and to all adults who receive pastoral care or serve our mission.”
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