How employees are made actionable

How employees are made actionable

The sexual abuse scandal has shaken the Catholic Church. But she is doing something about it: Well over 220.000 people have already been trained on the topic in NRW alone and thus made aware of the ie.

The thirty-year-old employee talks to the twelve-year-old girl. Both seem cheerful, laughing. But then the woman starts playing with the girl's hair, which makes her uncomfortable. The 12-year-old becomes quiet and rigid, but the woman smiles pensively. Was this already a form of sexual violence, of crossing boundaries??

The case is an example of the kind used in prevention training by the Catholic Church to raise awareness among employees. At the latest with the MHG abuse study of the Bishops' Conference from last September, the extent of sexual violence in the church became clear: 1.670 clerics have been accused of committing around 3.677 children and young people sexually abused in different ways.

Church has addressed the problem

The church addressed the problem, even before the study was published. In all dioceses, training has been taking place for several years, aimed at clergy, but also at kindergarten teachers, teachers or office workers. The focus is on sexual violence and transgressive behavior, such as unwanted touching.

This is often the beginning, says family therapist Ruth Habeland, who gives training courses in the Archdiocese of Cologne. "We want to sensitize people through prevention training," says the prevention officer in the Archdiocese of Cologne, Manuela Rottgen.

The NRW bishoprics of Aachen, Essen, Cologne, Munster and Paderborn have coordinated their training measures. This was done on the basis of the prevention regulations, which are identical in the NRW dioceses. There, the development of a uniform, binding protection standard is anchored.

For example, the dioceses require the presentation of an extended certificate of good conduct as well as participation in prevention training every five years. Depending on how much the people to be trained are in contact with children, they are taught over hours or days.

Already committed to basic training at an earlier stage

Already more than five years ago, all employees were obliged to attend the basic training course. At the time, many felt under general suspicion. When the in-depth training sessions were due, no one in the dioceses voiced any more concerns, as many employees asked about specific ies that they are confronted with particularly frequently in everyday life.

"How can I recognize whether a child is affected by sexual violence??", is one of the most frequently asked questions, Habeland explains. She doesn't have a clear answer to that question, but there are signs: speech or contact disorders, depression, low self-esteem and some more. An information booklet on prevention in the Archdiocese of Cologne provides information on this subject.

The booklet does not have an all-purpose solution either, but at least it offers hints and advice. Age-appropriate and appreciative language should be chosen, physical contact must be consensual, appropriate and age-appropriate, he said. And above all: listen and be attentive.

An abused child has to turn to an average of seven people before he or she meets someone who listens, believes or helps him or her. Some give up before they find a sympathetic ear.

Victim initiative pays tribute

Recognition for the training courses comes from the spokesman for the "Eckiger Tisch" victims' initiative, Matthias Katsch. The efforts of employees in Catholic Church institutions to reduce the risks of sexual violence against children are "enormous and exemplary," says Katsch.

"However, there are at least indications that this is not true to the same extent for the group of clergy, at least not in all dioceses."It criticizes the sluggish processing. Without it, prevention "threatens to get stuck at the purely formal level".

Training participants understood the importance. "Many people have become more confident in taking action," Habeland summed up after one of the events. Aachen prevention officer Almuth Gruner also reports that many participants were ultimately surprised by how much they took away with them.

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