Archdiocese Enacts New "Touching" Guidelines
Tom McKee, KYPost, August 11, 2008
Tough new guidelines on "good" touching and "bad" touching are now in place for anyone who has contact with children within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
For example, "side hugs" are allowed but "bear hugs" are considered prohibited physical contact.
The rules are included in the third five-year revision of the Decree On Child Protection.
They apply to priests, lay people, teachers, coaches and volunteers.
"Originally, I think that was all left to common sense," said Dan Andriacco, spokesperson for the Archdiocese. "Now, common sense just isnít good enough."
The decree has two purposes.
|Any form of unwanted affection|
|Inappropriate, forceful or lengthy embraces and/or "bear hugs"|
|Touching buttocks, chest, knees, thighs or genital areas|
|Placing hands in the pockets of al child|
|Showing affection in isolated areas such as bedrooms, closets, adult-only or staff-only areas|
|Laying down, cuddling or sleeping near a child|
|Being in bed with a child|
|Massage given by an adult to a child|
|Massage given by a child to an adult|
A provision that was instituted in 2003 requires anyone coming in contact with children to undergo a criminal background check, including fingerprinting.
Andriacco said since that time, 266 people have been found to have something in their past that precluded them from working in the Archdiocese.
"Offenses ranging from murder to rape to registered sex offenders," he added.
Elder High School Principal Tom Otten said heís 100% behind the changes.
"When youíre trying to protect children Ė and thatís what itís all about Ė you need to be very specific and thatís what this document does," Otten said.
Otten said Elder has gone through some of the abuse issues in the past with accusations being leveled against a former principal.
"I think itís a good thing to spell it out, because when we relied on common sense, some people didnít have it," Otten added.
Dan Frondorf of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called the newest version of the decree a
"positive step in the right direction,"
but said it doesnít go far enough.
"We still wish there was some measure of accountability for the people who perpetrated crimes in the past," Frondorf said. "Until these priests are brought to justice, we donít think there can ever be justice for anybody in the future."
Frondorf said he was referring to 10 priests who have been suspended because of credible accusations of abuse.
"That only kicks them out of the Catholic church. It keeps them away from Catholic kids," Frondorf continued. "What about the kids that are on a playground not at a Catholic school or at a city park?"
"We donít know where these guys are and they [the Archdiocese] wonít tell us," Frondorf added.
Andraiacco said of the updated decree,
"We are as current as we know how to be Ė as tough as we know how to be Ė right now."
"The process of revision is an ongoing one," he added. "No policy in itself can prevent bad things from happening. There are laws covering all kinds of the things in the United States and laws get broken."
Overall, Andriacco said the decree has been successful during its 15 years.
"Only two or three priests have been accused of improper action during that time," he said. "Unfortunately, several lay people as well, but we do think the decree has made a difference."
"Itís really hard to know what you have prevented."