Family Safety Resources
“Let us work together, then, so that we will always have the right, the courage and
the joy to be able to look into the eyes of the children of our world.” – Pope Francis
The Diocese of San José is devoted to the protection of children both within our Church and our communities. As we work to ensure safe environments in our parishes and schools, we also understand the importance of empowering families with information and resources that support children’s safety in their home and social life as well. In recognizing the power of prevention, we hope to support families as parents and caregivers juggle the demanding challenges of raising children, now more so than ever.
We know that clergy, diocesan personnel, volunteers, parents, and youth all play a critical role in child safety and prevention. Unfortunately, we also know that research and experts alike have highlighted that children are at a greater risk for abuse and neglect amid the challenges presented during the current health pandemic due to the dangers of isolation, inadequate or non-existent childcare, increased stress and surmounting fears triggered by growing economic instability and housing insecurity, which will continue to be exasperated under the circumstances. While this is alarming, we must remember that we are all in this together, and the Office for the Protection of Children & Vulnerable Adults wants to support families during this unprecedented time of shifting social norms that we are all trying to comprehend and navigate.
It is important to recognize that with school closures and distanced learning, the reality is that children are spending more unsupervised time online which puts them at an increased risk for exploitation. Please explore the “Online Safety Information for Parents & Activities for Youth” tab below for helpful tools and resources on how to have open and honest conversations with your children.
Services critical to children’s safety, and family support, will continue to be made available despite the challenges presented by the health crisis. Our intent is to share resources and services with you, as we all play a vital role in the protection and well-being of children within our local communities. We hope this information will be helpful to you and your family. Remember, there is no way to be a perfect parent but millions of ways to be a good one – so give yourself and your children an extra dose of compassion and care during the unprecedented times we are all living in.
As always, please feel free to contact our office without hesitation with your questions or concerns. Please be assured of our continued prayers for you and your family during these trying times.
Tips for Parents & Caregivers:
Child Abuse Prevention Month Toolkit
All types of abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self, their future relationships, and ability to function at home, work and school.
Though we work tirelessly year-round in the Lord’s vineyard to create safe environments for our children, let us put a special emphasis this April to promote child abuse prevention in our community. To assist you in this effort, we have enclosed a Child Abuse Prevention Month Toolkit. The toolkit is rich in ideas and resources – but don’t panic! – just pick as few or as many as will work within your resources. Even if you only do one homily or one media post, that single act may reach a person who needs to hear it or be the catalyst for helping a child in need: Diocese of San José Child Abuse Prevention Month Toolkit
Help Prevent Child Abuse (Safe Environment Training)
Protecting God’s Children for Adults: This training program is mandatory for diocesan clergy, employees and individuals working with minors. The VIRTUS® online training course – Protecting God’s Children (PGC) – teaches participants to be aware of the signs of child sexual abuse, the methods and means by which offenders commit abuse, and five easy steps one can use to prevent child sexual abuse. The course is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean languages.
Training Website: www.virtusonline.org
Registration Instructions: English | Spanish
Grooming, Red Flag Behavior, Personal Boundaries & Touching Safety (Multilingual)
(NEW) Helping children understand that they have the right to “Tell people ‘NO’!’” if anyone tries to hurt them or touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable is an important, though sometimes difficult, task. But establishing boundaries around touch is integral to keeping kids safe. Use these tips to help guide children and other adults when setting the norms and boundaries. Tips for Setting Physical Boundaries in English and Spanish
Grooming & Red Flag Behaviors: Grooming allows offenders to slowly overcome natural boundaries long before abuse occurs. On the surface, grooming a child can look like a close relationship between the offending adult, the targeted child and potentially the child’s caregivers. The grooming process is often misleading because the offender may be well-known or highly regarded in the community. As a result, it’s easy to trust them. Learn more about the grooming and how you can intervene if you see red flag behaviors or if your gut is telling you something is wrong. Multilingual Options
The Many Stages of Grooming: An essential goal of the Protecting God’s Children® Program for adults is the identification of potentially inappropriate behaviors exhibited by adults that could be grooming. The “grooming process” is the means for the offender to gain control over a child and the persons surrounding the child, to obtain access to the type of abusive relationship the offender seeks. Read More: English | Spanish
Teaching Boundaries and Safety Guide: These lessons focus on an age-appropriate discussion of touching safety, relative to the specific roles that different people play in a child’s life. All of the lessons stress the importance of keeping private body parts “private.” Download Available in English | Spanish
Ongoing Conversations: One of the best protections for our children is our relationship with them. We need to have on-going age-appropriate open and honest conversations with them about their bodies, healthy boundaries, and personal body safety. For many adults this can be very uncomfortable to do. Here are a few tips to help families with proactive conversations: English
Online Safety Information for Parents & Educational Activities for Youth (Trilingual)
(New) Internet Safety at Home: Today’s digital safety routine requires a different approach. Check out these easy-to-implement tips and practices for keeping kids and teens safe while they spend more time online. English | Spanish
Virtual Boundaries & Appropriate Online Safety Measures: Never has the concept of “virtual boundaries” been more important than today, as more people are signing on to various virtual platforms to connect with others. As a result, we find ourselves increasingly needing to delineate boundaries more clearly, so that our online behavior is just as appropriate as it should be in-person, and so that children are safe. Regardless of your role or position in the life of a child, the focus of this article is to provide a context of appropriate boundaries and best practices to help keep online interaction and discussion with youth appropriate and with proper oversight. English | Spanish
✅ Interactive Online Resources from VIRTUS, in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)
NetSmartz is NCMEC’s online safety education program. It provides age-appropriate videos and activities to help teach children how to be safer online with the goal of helping children to become more aware of potential online risks and empowering them to help prevent victimization by making safer choices on- and offline. Available in English and Spanish Language: English Language Website | Spanish Language Website
KidSmartz is NCMEC’s child safety program that educates families about interpersonal safety and empowers kids in grades K-5 to practice safer behaviors. This program offers resources to help parents, caregivers, and teachers protect kids by teaching and practicing the four (4) Rules of Personal Safety using tips, printable activities, quizzes, articles, music, videos, and more. Available in English and Spanish Language: English Language Website | Spanish Language Website
✅ 5 Ways You Can Help Keep Children Safe Online – Multilingual Website
✅ Technology Safety Through the Eyes of Faith: www.faithandsafety.org. A resource guide brought to you by a collaboration between The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
✅ Research-Based Online Safety Tips, Parent Guidebooks, & Advice: www.connectsafely.org. ConnectSafely.org is a Silicon Valley based nonprofit organization dedicated to educating users of connected technology about safety, privacy and security.
WHO & CDC Parenting Tips During COVID-19 Shelter-At-Home (Trilingual)
Parenting tips from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to help promote healthy quality time with our children during COVID-19 Shelter-At-Home.
Caring Questions & Reminders:
- Do ask your child daily: “What was the best part (high point) and worst part (low point) of your day today?”
- Do ask your child: “Do you know the difference between a good/right touch & a bad/wrong touch?”
- Do ask your child: “Which (3) safe adults would you tell if somebody was harming you or pressuring you to do something risky?”
- Do pay attention to non-verbal hints your child’s might be trying to communicate, because “Behavior IS Language”. So, ask your children often: “How are you feeling?”
- Do pay attention to how you as a parent communicate. As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher in life. So, HOW you communicate is often more impactful than WHAT you communicate verbally.
- Do pay attention on how you treat others in your home. Witnessing Domestic Violence is a form of emotional and psychological abuse with long-term negative impacts.
- Do talk to your child and other family members about a plan and meeting places in case of emergencies.
- Do talk to your child about a “Safety Word” in case somebody (stranger or family) tells them: “Your mommy or daddy asked me to give you a ride home.”
- Do teach your child to look for potential injury hazards at home or during play.
COVID-19: Helpful Information & Santa Clara County Resources (Multilingual)
The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) may be stressful for families. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. The emotional impact of an emergency on a person can depend on the person’s characteristics and experiences, the social and economic circumstances of the person and their community, and the availability of local resources. The following is helpful information for parents and caregivers, in addition to local resources.
✅ Santa Clara County Community Resources Directory During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: (Multilingual Website in English, Spanish, Vietnamese & More): Resources include family resource centers, developmental and behavioral health services, intimate partner and family violence, free access to internet and Wi-Fi, emergency childcare, financial assistance, housing and temporary shelters, food assistance, family activities, immigration and legal services and support, emergency oral health/dental services, pharmacy services (may be eligible for free medication), and assistance with utilities. Services are available by county or zip code. If you need help accessing resources, please call 2-1-1.
✅ Prevent Child Abuse America (Multilingual Website): Coronavirus Resources & Tips for Parents, Children & Others. This resource provides information about the impact of COVID-19 on families and children, ways to communicate with children about the epidemic, activities during shelter in place, and ways for parents and caregivers to reduce stress and practice self-care.
✅ End Violence Against Children: Protecting Children During the COVID-19 Outbreak & Positive Parenting in COVID-19 Isolation. As we continue to navigate this rapidly evolving situation, it is essential to stay informed on the latest news, updates and resources around the virus and its effect on children. As a global partnership, End Violence Against Children is here to share the latest evidence based data and information to protect children from COVID-19 and the related risk of violence.
✅ First 5 Santa Clara County (Multilingual Website): first5kids.org/covid19 & www.first5kids.org/resources/. Provides resources and advice about child abuse in general and COVID-19 specifically along with local community resources. Information is offered in multiple languages.*
✅ UNICEF (Multilingual Website): How to Talk to Your Children About Coronoavirus (COVID-19). 8 tips to help comfort and protect children.
✅ Silicon Valley Strong (Trilingual Website): siliconvalleystrong.org/go-virtual/family-resources. Provides resources for families and emotional support tools for all ages. Has specific resources regarding COVID-19. Information is offered in English, Spanish, & Vietnamese.*
✅ Parent hotline (Multilingual Website): Bay Area TALK (415) 441-5437. Provides 24-hour support for parents and caregivers in the Bay Area. Multilingual Website with Hotline Information.*
✅ 211 United Bay Area (Bilingual Website): 211bayarea.org/santaclara. Provides information about available health and human services in the Bay Area.*
✅ Santa Clara County Child Abuse and Neglect Center: 1-822-722-5437. This is a 24-hour toll free hotline to report suspected child abuse and neglect.
✅ Parents Helping Parents: php.com. Offers support and inspiration to parents and caregivers.*
✅ Parenting During an Epidemic, Dr. Damon Korb, M.D.*
✅ Working, Parenting, and Sheltering in Place, Dr. Damon Korb, M.D.*
✅ Santa Clara County Office of Education: sccoe.org. For information about education and home-based learning.*
*Resources & Information Provided by Child Abuse Prevention Council of Santa Clara County & the Department of Family & Children Services
Darkness To Light: Advocacy, Awareness & Statistics (Multilingual)
Darkness to Light empowers adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse through awareness, education, and stigma reduction. Resources are multilingual on the Darkness to Light website: www.d2l.org
✅ Darkness to Light: Protecting Children During a Crisis – Free 30 Minute Training. The Protecting Children During a Crisis online training is designed to help us navigate through the unusual circumstances we might face during times of crisis. This change is any situation where we may need to modify the steps we take to protect our children because of a situation that is out of our control. This training will help us consider current family strategies, help us identify potentially new or usual situations, and help us meet these change as needed for our family.
✅ These 5 Steps to Protecting Children are key factors in preventing child sexual abuse. The 5 steps framework can help guide us on how we can increase our awareness of the scope of the issue, take actionable steps towards both preventing and responding to abuse, and create safer environments for the children in our lives. These steps act as a guide for developing protective behaviors against abuse.
Step 1: Learn the Facts – If we don’t understand child sexual abuse, we can’t end it. It is highly likely that you know a child who has been or is being abused.
Step 2: Minimize Opportunity – Safe environments can help reduce the risk for abuse. More than 80% of sexual abuse cases occur in isolated, one-on-one situations.
Step 3: Talk About It – Talking openly breaks down barriers and reduces stigma. By talking openly about our bodies, sex, & boundaries we can encourage children to share.
Step 4: Recognize the Signs – Signs of abuse aren’t always obvious, but they are often there. Emotional or behavioral changes are often the most common signs.
Step 5: React Responsibly – It’s our responsibility to react appropriately to suspicion, disclosure, or discovery of abuse. Only 4% to 8% of reports of all sexual abuse are false.
✅ Learning the facts is the first step to preventing child sexual abuse. The statistics and facts below can help us understand what child sexual abuse is, the risk factors and consequences for survivors, and how to identify and report suspected abuse. For all statistics and references, download the full statistics PDF.
The Magnitude of the Problem – Child sexual abuse is far more prevalent than people realize. Find out how big the problem really is.
Signs of Abuse – Do you know what to do if you suspect or discover child sexual abuse? Learn the facts about signs of abuse that will help you identify when to report.
Offender Statistics – Those who molest children look and act just like everyone else. Abusers can be neighbors, friends, and family members.
Circumstances of Abuse – Child sexual abuse takes place under specific, often surprising circumstances.
Risk Factors – While no child is immune, there are child and family characteristics that can heighten the risk of sexual abuse.
Consequences of Abuse – Emotional and mental health problems are often the first consequence and sign of child sexual abuse.
Facts on Reporting – Only about one-third of child sexual abuse incidents are identified and even fewer are reported – HELP REPORT ABUSE! Please note that this is a general statistic and not based on the diocese’s reporting procedures, which follow State and Federal Mandated Reporter laws.
Santa Clara County Child Abuse and Neglect Center: 1-822-722-5437
This is a 24-hour toll free hotline to report suspected child abuse and neglect.
Cyber Bullying: What to Know & Do (Bilingual)
✅ StopBullying.gov: English Language Website | Spanish Language Website. Managed by the US Department of Health and Human Services this site has a number of resources on cyberbullying, who is at risk, how to respond, and how to get help immediately.
✅ What to Know:
- Cyber bullying is a form of violence that can do lasting harm.
- Posting or texting mean messages to another person or about another person is cyber bullying.
- Spreading rumors through posts, texts, or burn sites.
- Trashing a persons’ web page or social network site.
- Pretending to be someone else online to cause harm.
- Taking unflattering pictures of someone then texting or posting them online.
- Sexting suggestive pictures or messages about a person, even yourself.
- Cyber bullying can lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicide.
- Once things are online, they never disappear, resurfacing later to renew the pain of cyber bullying.
- Many cyber bullies think that bullying others online is funny.
- What is posted online now may reflect badly later when applying for schools or a job.
- Cyber bullies and their parents may face legal charges for cyber bullying.
- If cyber bullying is sexual or sexting, the results can include being registered as a sex offender.
- There are many ways to track some one who is cyber bullying, fake names are traceable.
- Over 50% of youth have engaged in cyber bullying. As the bully, the victim, or both.
- One in three young people have experienced cyber-threats online.
- 50% of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs.
- 20% of young people have posted/sent sexual or nude pictures of themselves to others.
- Cyber bullying is often not reported.
- Most youth are embarrassed, scared, ashamed of their behavior or actions
✅ What Can You Can Do:
- Print the evidence. Print blogs, emails, posts, polls, texts, etc for proof.
- STOP. Put the bully on notice that you want the treatment to stop.
- Teach your kids to tell you and other trusted adults.
- Block the bully from all sites. Avoid retaliation!
- REPORT the cyber bully to the web master or use REPORT buttons.
- Make a plan, with your family, about what is acceptable behavior.
- Never to share personal information online. 8. Keep the computer in a shared space like the family room.
- Do not “friend” a stranger on line or accept texts from numbers you do not know.
- DO NOT forward any hate messages.
- DO NOT forward any sexting messages or pictures.
- Cyber Bullying is against the law – call the police and REPORT the bully.
- Sexting is against the law – REPORT the sext to the police.
- Avoid reacting to the cyber bully – they want you to be affected.
- Change or delete your online profile and start over or wait a few months.
- Unfriend the cyber bully on your social network sites.
- Tell a school staff is cyber bullying is taking place during school hours.
- We can STOP cyber bullies when we STICK UP for one another.
- Encourage your children to be ROLE MODELS!