The job of ensuring children’s safety is a challenging undertaking. The prevention of child sexual abuse requires more than adult awareness, education, and training about the nature and scope of the problem. We must also give our children the tools they need to overcome the advances of someone who intends to do them harm. The Teaching Safety program guide is a tool designed to assist parents and teachers in this important task. The Teaching Safety program is a vehicle through which parents, teachers, catechists, and youth ministers give children and young people the tools they need to protect themselves from those who might harm them.
In compliance with Article 12 of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Diocese of Tyler utilizes the Empowering God’s Children™ program from VIRTUS® to meet our obligation to provide education and training for minors about ways to sustain and foster a safe environment.
Our safe environment lesson plans address each grade level with instruction and materials that are age-appropriate, user-friendly, and fully consistent with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. The lessons are designed to promote respect for the dignity of the human person and virtuous living. The program is required training for all youth who participate in religious education and Catholic schools.
NOTE: Empowering God’s Children™ from VIRTUS® focuses on teaching minors the tools they need to protect themselves and what to do if someone tries to violate their boundaries. It builds sequentially on developmentally appropriate topics each year. It is not a human sexuality education program. Parents can learn more about Empowering God’s Children™ at: https://www.virtusonline.org/virtus/touchingsafetyprogram.cfm
Steps for Teachers/Catechists and Schools/Parishes
Step 1: Read the Overview and Founding Principles of the Teaching Safety – Empowering God’s Children Program (Overview) found above. The Overview refers to several guiding documents provided by the Catholic Church and explains the distinctions you’ll need to help you work comfortably within your role as a support to parents in educating children about preventing sexual abuse. VIRTUS also offers short module called “VIRTUS Children’s Programs Lesson Leader Orientation and Certification Training” which can be assigned to faith formation leaders, catechists, and teachers in the VIRTUS portal.
Step 2: Read Teaching Boundaries and Safety Guide found above. This booklet is the primary resource to parents provided through the new Protecting God’s Children program for parents. The booklet is designed to help parents have frank and effective conversations with their children about the dangers of child sexual abuse and to help parents educate their children about the warning signs of abuse, and to help parents to better evaluate the safety of those who interact with their children. Because educators support parents in this critical undertaking, it is important for you to understand the types of conversations that parents are (or at least should be) having with their children, and the types of structures that you can help parents create in protecting their children.
Step 3: Now that you’ve read the Overview and the Teaching Boundaries and Safety Guide booklet, it’s time to learn more about your lesson plan. Educators must remember that the lesson plans are designed for you. Do not distribute the lesson plans to your students. All of the components of the lesson plan that precede the activities are designed to help give you the perspective you’ll need to help your students have a more meaningful learning experience.
The appropriate lesson below is to be presented to the children in religious education programs prior to April 15, 2024. Parishes should communicate two weeks in advance and again one week in advance to notify parents and families that there will be a special safe environment lesson. Parents can be given a link to this page for more information.
2024 Lesson Plans and Videos
Note: All material below is copyrighted by National Catholic Services, LLC. All rights reserved. It is only authorized for use by the parishes of the Diocese of Tyler.