By Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults
The Diocese of San José remains steadfast in its commitment to maintaining a safe environment for our children in Catholic schools and parishes. As outlined in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, we recognize that clergy, Diocesan personnel, volunteers, parents, and youth play a critical role in safety and prevention. Thus, it is important that we are all aware of our safe environment requirements and responsibilities as delineated in diocesan procedures, policies, and codes of conduct.
All clergy and Diocesan personnel, as well as any adult volunteers who serve in positions of trust with children and/or vulnerable adults, must go through:
- the proper background screening requirements and
- complete a diocesan safe environment training every three years covering indicators of abuse, grooming behaviors, and reporting process.
The safe environment training – which is available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese – may be completed through VIRTUS© at www.virtusonline.org. Dates for live training options can be found at www.dsj.org/protecting-gods-children.
Further, all parish and school personnel, including clergy, are Mandated Reporters and are required by state law to report any reasonable suspicion of child abuse, sexual or otherwise, to civil authorities. Failure to report a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable in California by six months in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.
Additionally, adult volunteers are considered Ethical Reporters. It is the responsibility of Ethical Reporters to report any suspicions of abuse to a Diocesan staff member on site, who is then responsible for reporting the incident to the appropriate authorities immediately (or as soon as practically possible within 24 hours). However, anyone who has reason to believe or suspects that a child has been or is being abused should report their suspicions to civil authorities.
Students, both in our private schools and faith formation programs from Kindergarten through 12th grade, annually participate in a VIRTUS® Catholic Safe Environment Curriculum lesson. This program is founded on the principles of appropriate relationship boundaries in the broader context of Christian values. All lessons are age-appropriate, and help children and youth develop the vocabulary and boundary distinctions necessary to empower them to begin to recognize inappropriate behavior by others and tell a safe adult. Parents are encouraged to continue the conversation at home and can find helpful resources and lesson plans at www.dsj.org/protecting-gods-children/virtus-resources-for-teachers-catechist.
If you would like to volunteer at a parish or school and are not yet compliant with all requirements, please take a moment to contact your site’s volunteer coordinator to begin the process. As always, the Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults is also available to answer your questions at (408) 983-0113 or via email at
The Diocese of San José encourages anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse by any clergy, employee or volunteer of the Roman Catholic Church to contact law enforcement. In addition, the Diocese of San José- Office for the Protection on Vulnerable Adults provides support services. Please contact Griselda Cervantez, Victim Assistance Coordinator & Prevention Advocate, at (408) 983-0225 or email Griselda.Cervantez@dsj.org. Additional reporting information is available on the Diocesan website at www.dsj.org/protecting-gods-children/reporting-abuse-misconduct.
Please continue to pray for the end of all abuse and a greater respect of the dignity of the human person.