The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People requires parishes and schools to provide formation to children in the areas of safety and the integrity of their person. The Diocese of Rockford is pleased to present these programs for the children and youth of our Diocese:
- For Grades PreK and K: The Diocese of Rockford Safe Environment Program Keeping Myself Safe. The basic theme of the Pre-K and Kindergarten program is Personal Safety. We are using the 19-page story book, The Birthday Suit, by Kristina and Ashlin Muldoon, and illustrated by Claire Shatzen, to introduce children to personal safety.
This program reinforces the concept of saying no at any age for inappropriate touching or contact. In Pre-K and Kindergarten classes, The Birthday Suit story book will be read to the children by the classroom teacher. With instruction and reinforcement, and support and affirmation from their parents and teachers, children can learn to take responsibility for their safety. The Birthday Suit is an excellent starting point to introduce our children to the skills they need to be safe.
This program is used recognizing that parents are the first teachers of faith, prayers and a life of love with Jesus, as well as God's gift of human sexuality and to remain chaste. This short, one-book program for Pre-K and Kindergarten children is intended to assist parents in the formation of their children in the virtue of chastity and to address this topic in a very age appropriate manner.
- For Grades 1 – 8: The Diocese of Rockford Formation in Christian Chastity and Safe Environment Program. This program consists of two parts – a Formation in Christian Chastity program to be taught in every grade from Grades 1 through 8, and a Safe Environment program taught in Grades 1, 3, 5 and 8.
The benefits of this new program are twofold. First, the program places a strong emphasis on the Church’s recognition that parents are the primary educators of their children, particularly in the areas of human intimacy. Throughout both the Formation in Christian Chastity portion of the program and the Safe Environment portion, parents are given a wealth of ideas and tools designed to assist them in fulfilling their task as primary educators of their children in these areas. Under this program the classroom will serve as reinforcement of the concepts taught in the home, always sensitive to the primary role to be played by parents.
Secondly, the program in its Chastity Formation portion more concretely answers the Bishops’ call “to provide formation to children in the area(s) of…the integrity of their person.” Put quite simply, when we faithfully instill in our children the Catholic faith, we are protecting them against abuse and teaching them how to respond should they be victimized.
For Grades 9 – 12: The Circles of Care Program is intended to strengthen and complement the care that is already part of the catechetical ministry in our Catholic schools. Throughout the lessons students will be introduced to foundational principles of living our faith, especially personal safety, making good decisions, developing wholesome relationships, and self-esteem. This is done within the context of the religion curriculum for each high school grade.
Diocesan High Schools have the option as well to use materials from Netsmartz in combination with the Circles of Care lesson plans for grades 9 and 10. Netsmartz is an interactive, educational safety resource developed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to teach children and youth how to stay safer on the internet. Certain videos and corresponding lesson plans from the Netsmartz website have been selected by the Diocese for use in the classroom. The use of a Netsmartz video or videos is not a substitute for the Circles of Care Lesson; but may be used in addition to the Circles of Care Lesson.
In preparing this curriculum, the intention and hope has been that all of the materials will assist parents and educators in continuing the ministry we share with all of you, that of caring for and forming in faith the young members of the Church.