Monday, April 8, 2019
Jan Rayburn - Archdiocese of Miami/Safe Environment
I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know. (Psalm 139:14)
How about that! Aren’t we special? Yes. We. Are. No matter how humble or soft-spoken some of us may be, we believe it. Our actions show it. Our children receive participation trophies. We go through the express line with more than 10 items because they can surely make an exception for us. Then we stand in line to buy Powerball and Mega Millions tickets even though we know the odds are crazy against us.
For a recent Powerball winning ticket, the odds were 292 million to 1! You are more likely to die from an asteroid strike (nearly 75 million to 1) or get struck by lightning (1.1 million to 1) or even become a movie star (1.5 million to 1). Still, we spend our hard-earned money on the gazillion to one chance, because we think we could be that special one who wins.
So, what’s the harm? After all, we are uniquely made. Well, sometimes we forget that we are all uniquely made and special. There’s no pedestal to preen from. The real gift is in rejoicing in everyone’s unique kind of special. To celebrate it and do everything we can to let it flourish in each other.
When it comes to children, this means doing all we can to protect them, so they can grow and learn and flourish in safety. The Safe Environment Policy of the Archdiocese of Miami was created to do just that. In keeping with the U.S. bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the policy requires, among other things, that all clergy, religious and employees in any capacity, and all volunteers with access to children and/or vulnerable adults, be cleared through fingerprinting in our data base, have an active and up-to-date Virtus account, and sign a Pledge to Promote Safe Environment.
These are best-practices solutions to ensure that those who have access to the most vulnerable among us are suitable, qualified, and have the best interest of the child at heart. It is an enormous undertaking in scope, resources, finances, commitment, and emotions but not doing so is so much more costly. If the results are saving just one child, it is worth it.
The Safe Environment Office has undergone an independent yearly audit – to see how well we are following the policies – since the Charter’s inception in 2002. The Archdiocese of Miami has passed the audit every year. Through this process, we know the program works and we’ve seen many helped and saved from terrible torment.
Then there are those we may never know about who were able to change their circumstances because of the information they received in their training or the training of children through the Virtus Teaching Boundary Safety lessons.
A key component of the success of the policy is that there are no exceptions —no matter how special we may be. Some groups of people may feel they do not need to comply because of their professional training and/or status. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, law enforcement officers, and politicians may feel their training is already sufficient — exceptional even.
However, we need these people to comply and set the example for others. We need these people to know what information is being disseminated for everyone else and to recognize when an action or activity is not acceptable as per the archdiocesan policy. We need these people to share their knowledge in Virtus training session discussions. We need these people to join us in our efforts. We are called in baptism to look out for each other. I can’t think of a more special calling.