Church lists banned touches
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s new Decree on Child Protection includes the most detailed rules yet for how priests, employees and volunteers should interact with children.
The latest version of the decree, which is updated every five years, lists for the first time examples of physical contact that would be appropriate or inappropriate under church rules.
Church officials say the list should help eliminate any confusion staff members or volunteers might have about contact with kids.
The latest revision of the decree was released last week with about eight more pages of new or expanded rules.
Other changes include a requirement that contractors who have contact with kids get background checks, and a policy that urges staff and volunteers to avoid using “suggestive or inappropriate” communications with children.
The decree also would bar people from entering the seminary or becoming deacons if their names appear on a new civil registry that lists anyone with a declaratory judgment – not necessarily a criminal conviction – for assault or battery.
The registry, created last year, allows Ohio judges to use a declaratory judgment to put someone accused of abuse on the registry if they believe the allegations have merit, but the case is too old to prosecute. So far, no one has been placed on the registry.
Victims’ advocates have criticized the archdiocese for its handling of past abuse cases, but they support the rules in the decree.
What’s appropriate, what isn’t
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Decree on Child Protection contains examples of appropriate and inappropriate contact with children.
Appropriate: Side hugs; shoulder-to-shoulder hugs; pats on the head, shoulder or back when “culturally appropriate”; handshakes; high-fives and hand slapping; holding hands during prayer or when a child is upset; holding hands while walking with small children; kneeling or bending down for hugs with small children.
Inappropriate: Any form of unwanted affection; inappropriate, forceful or lengthy embraces, and/or bear hugs; kisses; lap-sitting; touching buttocks, chest, knees, thighs or genital areas; placing hands in the pockets of a child; showing affection in isolated areas such as bedrooms, closets or other private rooms; lying down, cuddling or sleeping near a child; being in bed with a child; wrestling; tickling; piggyback rides; massage given by an adult to a child, or by a child to an adult.