Primary Educators League

Assisting parents in the eternal vigil of protecting the freedom and holiness of their families.

Monday, April 17, 2006

EMPOWERING PARENTS TO PROTECT CHILDREN

It seems in this whole discussion of creating “safe environments” for children, the leaders of our dioceses have overlooked or ignored one very important tactic: empowering parents to take up their rightful role as primary educators of their children.

If the time and money invested in programs for clergy, staff, and now children had been spent educating parents in the rich heritage of the Catholic teaching on human dignity and the “theology of the body” of John Paul the Great, parents could then be the ones responsible for protecting their own children from “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. Churches and schools, of course, would assist parents in this task by reinforcing what parents first taught at home. Educated and involved parents are perhaps the best asset a child can have as he or she navigates the rough seas of a thoroughly secular culture.

How could people of good will realize such a course of action? Perhaps, rather than investing time and money into ‘safety’ curricula and training teachers to teach the curricula, the same expenditure of resources could be employed at the parish level to conduct education sessions for parents who may be unfamiliar with documents such as “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality”. DREs, pastors, teachers, and fellow parents could collaborate to create a program for parents, and could share the duties of conducting seminars for each parent in their own parish. This would be the principle of subsidiarity at its best.

Religious education programs and schools could then teach an appropriate children’s component to the parental sessions; flowing from the guidelines and standards presented to parents through the documents they study (chiefly TMHS). Thus, teachers at church and school would reinforce the wisdom that parents themselves pass on to their own children. This would represent a true collaboration between parents and church and school leaders.

Such a program would involve sessions for parents, lessons for parents to then teach their children at home, and a few lessons for church and school that reinforce the lessons taught at home. Each parish would conduct its own sessions for parents, thus ensuring that the program meets the specific needs of that particular parish and its families.

Such a program would be free; it would be easily accessible to all parents, teachers, priests and staff. Such a program would flow from the heart of the church and her rich wisdom in the area of human dignity. Such a program would be sensitive to the innocence of the young and committed to giving parents the tools that they need to educate themselves and their own children. Such a program would, finally, put the greatest weight of responsibility on parents for the protection of their own children. It would not overly burden children with the responsibility for their own safety, while at the same time it would give them age appropriate tools to learn caution and attention to their own safety.

Such a program would use stories of the saints and other holy people to teach children about proper behavior and human dignity. It would encourage children to pray: to God for protection and guidance, to the saints for help and prayers, to their guardian angels for extra help and protection, and to Our Lady for her loving, maternal care for each of their souls. It would discuss the importance of the vocation to which God calls each child, and the importance of remaining pure in body and soul in order to be able to respond to God’s call. It would never disturb children with unnecessary information about sex or scenarios of abuse.

Does such a program exist? Can parents find such a program that offers so thorough an education? Can churches and schools employ such a program that would empower parents first, and then give children the reinforcement of what they learn at home?

Primary Educators League believes that this program does exist. It is a program called Formation in Christian Chastity. Catholic teachers, clergy, and parents of the Diocese of Harrisburg (PA) developed the program to use in their own diocese. The Diocese of Harrisburg made the program available online so that others could use it. The Dioceses of Arlington (VA) and La Crosse (WI) use FICC. Archbishop Harry Flynn of St. Paul/Minneapolis approved the use of FICC in parishes and schools in the archdiocese. Pastors, principals and parents can view the program at www.primaryeducators.org . The program is Catholic, affirms parents’ roles as primary educators of their children, protects the innocence of children, assists in the education of both parents and children, fulfills the requirements of Article 12 of the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Youth and Young adults, is easily accessible, and it is FREE. Pastors of the archdiocese need only to write to Archbishop Flynn to request approval to use FICC (also known as the Harrisburg program). Please spread the good news to others that this is the best way to empower parents and protect children.

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