Primary Educators League

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

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Archdiocese of St.Paul and Minneapolis - Protection of Children and Youth Web Site

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis now has published quite a bit of information about the safe environments program in the Twin Cities.

On the site you'll find a "History of the Initiative in the Archdiocese," as well as a detailed outline of the safe environments program and some articles from the Catholic Spirit, found here and here.

It's nice to see all of this information published with the links established.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Opting out of "Safe Environments" Programs...Must Parents Sign an Opt Out Form?

Many parents have been contacting us wondering whether or not they should sign an official document that their schools are demanding they sign in they are going to withhold their children from the "safe environments" instruction.

It's important to note that the USCCB relaxed requirements recently regarding this exact situation. We posted a blog entry here which contains the original Catholic News Service story about the bishops relaxing their auditing requirements.

According to the information out of the USCCB as reported by the Catholic News Service, parents are not required to sign a document stating that they are opting their child out of the program.

By signing the opt-out form, parents may be exposing themselves to legal liability at some future date. Give it some serious thought before you decide whether or not to sign the paper opting your child out of these lesson plans. What are they going to do...kick your child out of school? If they threaten that, please let us know.

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"Safe Environments" 4 TAT Lessons in 4 Months

The "safe environments" initiative for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is about to kick in to high gear. Not much has been going on up until now. However, with Catholic Schools week out of the way, there remain only four more months in the school year. Most Catholic schools still have four "Talking About Touching" (TAT) lessons that they need to complete.

Since it has been awhile since many parents have been reminded about the kind of material that will be taught to our young children, please review some TAT lessons here. (There are links from this page to specific lesson plans). The Ian lesson will be taught to our second graders which can be found here. The Kerry lesson will be taught to our third graders and can be found here. This is material that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and many of our Catholic schools have made incredibly difficult for parents to preview before our children see it and discuss it in the classroom.

If you need more background on "Talking About Touching," more information is posted on our website.

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Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis: "Safe Environments" and Sexuality Education should be taught together

Sr. Fran Donnelly, BVM, Director of the Protection of Children and Youth Inititiative for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, recently sent out this e-mail to all catechetical leaders and those involved in teaching "safe environments" in our Catholic schools and religious education classes.

We have stated for months about our concern that we are introducing scary and deviant sexual scenarios to our young children which may well shatter their innocence. Addtionally, many have expressed concern that there may be an alternative agenda since many of the themes found promoted in VIRTUS and "Talking About Touching" look all too familiar to those promoted by Planned Parenthood and SIECUS.

Now we read in Sr. Fran Donnelly's January 2007 e-mail broadcast that not only does Teresa Kettlekamp, Executive Director - Office of Child and Youth Protection for the USCCB, the unname auditor who was recently at the chancery office, as well as Fr. McGlone who wrote the high school "safe environments" program "Safe and Sacred Spaces," all believe that we need to link sexuality with safety instruction. This will all play out over the next several years as more and more "sexuality" information is taught to young child from pre-K to fourth grade.

From Sr. Fran Donnelly's January e-mail broadcast:

"Both (Teresa Kettlekamp and the unnamed auditor) affirmed Fr. McGlone’s advice that there is a need for both Catholic sexuality discussions and protection themes. Even though the audit only focuses on protection, it cannot be an either/or curriculum decision in our parishes and schools. Actually, we are hearing the same concerns being voiced by many of you and will be attempting to work through these challenges with you."

And you thought the "Safe Environments" initiative really was all about protecting our children?

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Sr. Fran Donnelly: "Safe Environments" Update for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

This email is being sent on behalf of Sr. Fran Donnelly, BVM, Director of the Protection of Children and Youth Initiative and Sharon Tomlin, PCYI Curriculum Liaison to Catechetical Leaders in Archdiocesan Catholic Parishes.

We would like to extend to you our wishes for a Happy New Year and the successful continuation of your programs for children and youth!

This past November the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis hosted two visitors focused on our PCYI efforts. One was Teresa Kettelkamp, Executive Director of the USCCB, Office of Child and Youth Protection. The other was a compliance auditor for the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Both visits included frank discussions over difficult challenges that we are experiencing, affirmation of the work we have already done, and suggestions that will help us “pass” the 2007 audit.

Both Ms. Kettelkamp and the auditor commended the Archdiocesan efforts to develop a sound program from its inception. It was Fr. Kevin McDonough who insisted that those on the Archdiocesan task force focus our efforts on changing hearts and our culture. Only within this context, did he want us looking at compliance issues related to the audit. Nonetheless, the audit is exceedingly important and we do want to make sure that for the 2006 – 2007 program year, we are in full compliance with the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops! Many dioceses that focused on compliance first are now being challenged with issues related to effectiveness.

At all levels, the curriculum and audit forms appear to give both the Archdiocese and individual programs high quality information for adults and children, and thorough documentation that will be helpful to the auditors. The main concerns for both Ms. Kettelkamp and the auditor were related to the challenges of keeping the Family Safety Fair effective on an ongoing, yearly basis and of the alternative programs having a yearly, on-site sharing of information included in their programs. Both affirmed Fr. McGlone’s advice that there is a need for both Catholic sexuality discussions and protection themes. Even though the audit only focuses on protection, it cannot be an either/or curriculum decision in our parishes and schools. Actually, we are hearing the same concerns being voiced by many of you and will be attempting to work through these challenges with you.

Both Ms. Kettelkamp and the auditor were interested in hearing about your solutions to the first year of content rollout and again were impressed with the energy you all are putting into the initiative. We also thought you would like to know that it appears that the USCCB office will be coming out with clearer criteria in the late winter/ early spring. This will make all of our lives simpler!

We wanted you to be aware of a number of other considerations as you move into 2007 and begin planning for the 2007 – 2008 program year

1. Audits for the 2006 – 2007 program year will include some dioceses piloting on-site visits to randomly selected
parishes and schools. There is an expectation that leaders will be able to produce evidence to support the Fall and Spring

Audit Reports.

2. In the very near future, your pastor will be receiving a mailing that will include a Promise to Protect/Pledge to Heal

poster and A Prayer for Healing card from the USCCB. It is suggested that you display the poster in a prominent location

for adult and student viewing. The posters will have updated contact information for the Archdiocese’s Advocacy and PCYI

offices. This future mailing will also include insights gleaned from an upcoming meeting between regional bishops, the national

Office of Child and Youth Protection staff, and auditors for the 2006 – 2007 program year.

3. All of the Alignments for PCYI Curricula with the Archdiocesan K – Grade 8 Religion Standards are now posted on both

the Extranet and the Archdiocesan Website:

4. Sharon Tomlin continues to be in conversation with the Saint Paul Police Department regarding an internet safety program

that the department is willing to fund for all of our Archdiocesan schools. It would be very helpful for parish faith formation

staff members to get the word out to your public school teachers and local police department staffs that these materials are

available. The materials were developed by Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program and NetSmartz with
sponsorship coming from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and The Office Of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention. These curriculum materials are probably best taught by technology instructors and cannot be used as

a substitute for Protection of Children and Youth materials; however, many instructors might find these materials to be a

valuable addition to their present resources.

Until the newest edition becomes available, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the NetSmartz developers are encouraging people to go out to the following website in order to preview materials: General Information and Parent Preview:

5. Lastly, Sharon Tomlin would love to be invited out to observe some of your classrooms or debrief with your catechists this winter and early spring. Whether the focus is TAT, Out of Harm’s Way, Family Safety Fair, Creating Safe and Sacred Places or any other Archbishop Flynn-permitted curricula, Sharon would like to see the programs during implementation and learn from your staff’s experience what appears to be working well and what we need to do to make these even more effective programs. Her contact information is: work phone number: 651-290-1622 and work email address:

In closing, we would like to encourage you to pass this information on to your Protection of Children and Youth site coordinator or committee, and to find a good place to display the USCCB poster. We hope that you can spread the word about NetSmartz materials and that faith formation staff members will find time to view the full set of alignments on the Archdiocesan website. Lastly, we hope that some of you might be able to have Sharon come out and visit your programs in the near future.

Sincerely yours in Christ’s name,

Sr. Fran and Sharon

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"Safe Environments" Fallout: The Academy of Sts. Peter and Paul in Loretto loses 21 families due to "Talking About Touching."

The safe environments programs have caused upheaval in several Catholic parishes and schools across the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

One such parish, Sts. Peter and Paul in Loretto, Minnesota has been particularly hard hit. Many parishioners were very upset about the handling of the safe environments initiative at the school and parish. The debate was contentious last spring between parents and the parish leadership. As a result, we have heard that 21 families left the parish school. This has been devasting to the school budget and the greater parish community. The Catholic school's future is uncertain given the massive loss of tuition money those 21 families represented. This defection is a result of the way the parish and school leadership handled the decision to teach the controversial "Talking About Touching" program to the youngest school-aged children.

Other Catholic schools saw parents pull their children, but the situation in Loretto is one of the more dramatic examples of the fallout from the USCCB's "Safe Environments" initiative and the"Talking About Touching" program promoted by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

It's a shame that Catholic families are being driven away from parish schools to public schools and other schooling alternatives.

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