Protecting God's Children

What is the VIRTUS Protecting God's Children Program?

Child sexual abuse is a worldwide public health issue. Child abuse, particularly child sexual abuse, is reprehensible—especially when the wrongdoer is affiliated with the Church. The VIRTUS® programs assist the Church in being a safe haven for children and a messenger for preventing child sexual abuse within the Church and society in general.

Most organizations that work with children have some sort of child safety program. Through the Protecting God’s Children program, we maximize those efforts by helping churches and religious organizations refine their roles as child-safe environments and empowering caring adults to protect children.

Why Does It Work?

Child abusers seek to operate and abuse their power within nurturing, child-friendly environments where it is assumed that nobody would want to harm a child. Religious organizations of all faiths are an easy target. The Protecting God's Children program implements safety mechanisms that send a message to all abusers and potential abusers:

  • Child abuse is not tolerated
  • Children are vigilantly protected
  • Victims are listened to, heard, and shielded from further abuse
  • Offenders are identified and punished

By utilizing best practices for training and loss prevention, the Protecting God's Children program helps make churches safe for all people—especially children.

How Does It Work?

Maximizing a church's role as a child-safe environment begins with making adults more aware of the ways children and adults interact with each other. The Protecting God's Children program educates and trains adults (clergy, religious, teachers, staff, volunteers, and parents) about the dangers of abuse, the warning signs of abuse, the ways to prevent abuse, the methods of properly reporting suspicions of abuse, and responding to allegations of abuse.

All VIRTUS training programs, including the Protecting God's Children program, are comprehensive and multi-dimensional—incorporating proven best practice standards for the prevention of child sexual abuse by clergy, staff, volunteers, and others who interact with children within the church environment. Our training programs incorporate instructor-led training, train-the-facilitator education, awareness videos, and ongoing web-based training through online training bulletins and training modules via our VIRTUS Online system.

Using The Church To Protect Children

For any organization, the best practice to prevent wrongdoing, including child sexual abuse, is to have an organization use its own people to facilitate awareness of the issue. The Protecting God’s Children program begins with the training of internal facilitators—individuals selected by the archdiocese, diocese, or religious organization to train other adults and parents on how to best protect children. We use facilitator-led awareness sessions and continuous online training so that participants learn the best methods for delivering their message, including the training for the Protecting God’s Children program.

Training Adults To Protect Children

We begin by making adults of the Church that interact with children aware of how to protect children. Our Protecting God’s Children program for adults is a three-hour live awareness session instructing adults of the Church that to protect children you must have continuous awareness and vigilance. This awareness session makes trainees understand the signs of child sexual abuse, the methods and means by which offenders commit abuse, and five empowerment steps one can use to prevent child sexual abuse. Continuing online training is a valuable component of the Protecting God’s Children program for the continued awareness of child abuse.

VIRTUS Child Protection Training In-Service offered at Walsh University

The Diocese of Youngstown has transitioned from Treasured Gifts from God Child Protection In-service to the nationally recognized VIRTUS training for employees and volunteers who work with minors in ANY capacity throughout the Diocese.

This in-service partially fulfills the Diocese of Youngstown Child Protection policy. Men and women who work with minors must also be fingerprinted and/or have a background check as well as receive a copy of the Diocesan Child Protection Policy promulgated in 2008. We are proud to offer in-services on campus at Walsh University through the Campus Ministry department. If you have been trained in VIRTUS through another diocese you are NOT required to attend this. Although, you may need to transfer your credentials to this diocese if you work with minors.

If you wish to attend our in-service on campus, you can register for the training from the Diocese of Youngstown website.

Please Note: You must register online for this in-service. All are welcome to attend. 

  • Click "English" link beside VIRTUS registration. You will be asked to set up a VIRTUS account. Please select a session listed at Walsh University in the Diocese of Youngstown.
  • You can also click "VIRTUS Course schedule" and select Diocese of Youngstown from the drop-down screen.
  • Either prompt will ask you to set up an account, if you don’t already have an account.