VIRTUS is a program created by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group in the United States with a “Protecting God’s Children” component that combats sexual abuse of children in the Church. It is currently in use in over 80 dioceses in the United States.
The goal of the VIRTUS program is primarily to be proactive instead of reactive when dealing with child sexual abuse. To prevent sexual abuse, VIRTUS advocates five steps:
- Knowing the warning signs of abuse
- Controlling access to children
- Monitoring programs involving children
- Being aware of how children behave
- Communicating concerns
VIRTUS focuses on educating teachers, parents, and other adults who interact with children about sexual abuse and providing them with information to help prevent abuse. This takes place in ‘awareness sessions’ led by trained facilitators. The awareness sessions consist of videos, worksheets, and discussions. The videos incorporate interviews with both victims and convicted perpetrators.
Protecting God's Children Online Training
- Go to http://www.virtusonline.org
- On the left-hand side of the page, click the yellow link label “Registration”
- Click “Begin the registration process”
- From the drop down list, choose “Lansing, MI (Diocese)”
- Create a user ID and a password you can easily remember. This is necessary for all participants. This establishes your account with our diocese and the VIRTUS program. Click “Continue” to proceed.
- Provide the personal contact information requested. Several fields are required and are marked with an “*”. If you do not have an email address, consider obtaining a free email account at mail.yahoo.com or any other free service.
- From the drop down list, select your parish
- If you also volunteer at another parish, click “Yes” and select the site at the next screen. Otherwise, click “No”.
- Select the role(s) that you serve within your organization and type in a specific volunteer duty, i.e., catechist, catechist aide, coach, assistant coach, classroom aid, field trip, chaperone, playground/lunchroom, scouts, etc., where it asks for an additional title.
- On the screen regarding additional roles, check any that apply and click “Continue”
- Answer the three yes/no questions . Then click “Continue”
- Read the Code of Conduct and click on “Yes, I understand” at the bottom of the screen (Note that the Code of Conduct is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese)
- Answer “No” to the question: Have you already attended a Protecting God’s Children session?
- You will be presented with a list of upcoming sessions. Mark the box “Protecting God’s Children for Adults (Online Training)”
- Answer “OK” to the question “Are you sure this is the session you wish to attend?”
- There will be a message on your screen confirming that you have completed the registration process. Click on “Go to VIRTUS Online”
- Login with your User ID and Password
- Click on the “Training” tab toward the top of the screen to access the online module
- Read each screen carefully. If you are unable to finish your training in one session, you can log out and return later by following steps 16 & 17 above.
- When your training is complete, print your completion certificate and log off.