Ensuring a Safe Environment
About Safeguard the Children
Providing a safe environment for children, youth, and vulnerable adults
Safeguard the Children is a comprehensive program designed to promote a safe environment for children, youth and vulnerable adults and prevent child sexual abuse. The program was initiated in all dioceses in the United States at the direction of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The requirements of the program are detailed in a charter developed by the USCCB called USCCB “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles (ADLA) has developed a program called "Safe Environment" to implement all of the requirements in USCCB Charter.
As part of implementing the program there is a Safeguard the Children (STC) Committee in each parish which helps to implement the objectives of the USCCB Charter and ADLA Program. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has also produced an informative brochure entitled "Working Together" that provides resources on how to prevent abuse and provides information on reporting child abuse. You can find it along with more information about the policies and activities of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in “Protecting Our Children".
Requirements for Parish Clergy, Staff, and Volunteers at St. Thomas Aquinas
All volunteers and clergy, along with our staff, regardless of whether they work with or around children in any way, are required to attend a VIRTUS “Protecting God’s Children” adult awareness training session.
Any volunteer who supervises or is perceived to supervise children in any way is required to submit to a background check in the form of fingerprinting by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Click here to learn more about fingerprinting.
Religious Education volunteers, students and their parents take part annually in the ”Teaching Touching Safety” or other approved safe environment education program.
All parish staff are required to submit to a background check in the form of fingerprinting by the Los Angeles Archdiocese
For a schedule of VIRTUS sessions and fingerprinting at St. Thomas Aquinas, please check latest announcements or the calendar. You can also call the Parish Office at (805) 646-4338 x101 for dates as well.
Reporting Child Abuse and Elder or Vulnerable Adult Abuse
It is important that everyone report suspected child or elder abuse. If you ever come across suspected abuse, we urge you to call the Ventura County Child Abuse Hotline at (805) 654-3200. The hotline is operated twenty-four hours, around the clock, seven days a week. You don’t need to know that child abuse or neglect is taking place, you are welcome to report your suspicions and consult with a social worker if you are not clear whether what you are witnessing or have learned of is abuse. Depending on your profession, you might even be legally obligated to report suspected child abuse and neglect, a so-called “mandated reporter.” But if you are not a mandated reporter, you can even make your report anonymously.
Priests, deacons, and other staff members in our parish have been designated as mandated reporters under California law. When one of these persons receives information leading to a “reasonable suspicion” that a child is being abused or neglected, he or she must make a report to the appropriate child protection or law enforcement agency.
Caring for the victims of abuse is very important. The Archdioces has established a Victims Assistance Ministry to help victims/survivors who have been victims of sexual abuse by a priests, deacons, or individuals representing the Catholic Church.
If you are being abused, have been abused, or know someone who is being abused and you need assistance making a report, call Victims Assistance Ministry at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at (800) 355-2545.
You may also seek help directly by contacting one of the Child Protective Services or one of the Law Enforcement Agencies listed below. In an emergency, call 911.
Important Phone Numbers
Ventura County Child Abuse Hotline
District Attorney Victim's Services
ADLA Victims Assistance Ministry