Since the Bishops of the United States adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002, the Archdiocese of New York has implemented a comprehensive child protection program (called the "Safe Environment Program") in all our parishes, schools, and programs. The following are the highlights of the child protection efforts.
Child Safety Policies
The archdiocese has a comprehensive Policy on Sexual Misconduct that was fully updated in 2016, bringing our policies up to date to address a wider range of issues and situations, and to clarify the procedures by which we handle allegations of misconduct. The Safe Environment Office also has a detailed Policy Manual that governs the implementation of the child safety requirements: screening of all who work with children (including a criminal background check), training in sexual abuse awareness and prevention, and codes of conduct for clergy and laity. These policies address a multitude of situations in which child safety is implicated (e.g., on-line behavior, overnight trips, acceptable professional boundaries, etc.)
Annual Audit Results
Each year, the archdiocese undergoes an audit to determine its compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This audit is conducted by outside auditors, under the supervision of an independent National Review Board established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In November 2015, the Archdiocese was found to be in full compliance with the Charter -- the eleventh consecutive positive result.
Statistical Summary of Efforts to Date
Handling of Allegations of Misconduct
All allegations of sexual abuse are handled according to the Archdiocesan Policy on Sexual Misconduct and all applicable provisions of New York State law and Canon Law. The archdiocese immediately reports all allegations to local law enforcement authorities, pursuant to agreements with all the district attorney's offices for the ten counties of the archdiocese, and fully cooperates with their investigations. Any clergy member who is the subject of a credible accusation is removed from active ministry and placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The program in staffed by four full-time and two part-time employees. The director is an attorney and a former state and federal prosecutor. The assistant director for training holds a masters degree in social work. There is also a team of four retired NYPD police officers who conduct a parish and school visitation project.
All materials and resources for the program are available on the Safe Environment Office website: http://www.archny.org/safe-environment-program.