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STANDARDS OF MINISTERIAL BEHAVIOR AND BOUNDARIES. For Priests, Deacons, Religious, Pastoral Ministers, Administrators, Teachers, Staff and Volunteers. Standards. There are guidelines for the boundaries of appropriate behavior in all interactions with children and young people.

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standards of ministerial behavior and boundaries


For Priests, Deacons, Religious, Pastoral Ministers, Administrators, Teachers, Staff and Volunteers

  • There are guidelines for the boundaries of appropriate behavior in all interactions with children and young people.
  • Responsibility for adherence to the Standards of Ministerial Behavior rests with the individual. Church Personnel who disregard the Standards will be subject to remedial action by the Archdiocese.
  • It is crucial to re-read the Standards for Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries at least once a year. Failure to be unfamiliar with these standards does not relieve the adult from culpability.
corrective actions
Corrective Actions
  • May take various forms, including but not limited to a verbal reproach, termination of employment, or removal from ministry, depending on the specific nature and circumstances of the offense and the extent of the harm.
reporters of child abuse



Social Workers

Day Care Center Workers

Mental Health Professionals

Persons supervising children

pennsylvania law
Pennsylvania Law
  • Pennsylvania law makes no distinction between paid and non-paid personnel. Accordingly, volunteers who come into contact with children in the course of their volunteer duties are mandated reporters.


Clergy Youth ministers Playground monitors

Parish and school personnel Child-care workers Foster-care workers

Teachers School nurses Social service workers

Catechists Athletic coaches School volunteers

Music ministers Classroom aides Administrators

how is a report made
How Is a Report Made?
  • Those in paid or volunteer staff positions in any Church-related institution are obligated to immediately notify the person in charge of the institution (e.g., pastor, lead administrator in the school (President or Principal), DRE when child abuse is suspected.
  • The person in charge will make the report. If the person in charge of the institution is the suspected abuser, the person with the information must make the report.
contact information
Contact Information
  • PA Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-932-0313
  • Archdiocesan Office for Children and Youth Protection 1-888-800-8780 (if the suspected abuser is a church official, employee or volunteer call both numbers)
  • Office of Catholic Education 215-587-3700
penalties for failure to report
Penalties for Failure to Report
  • A person or official required to report a case of suspected child abuse who willfully fails to do so commits a summary offense for the first violation and a misdemeanor of the third degree for a second or subsequent violation.
  • Summary offense: fine and possible jail time
all school personnel and volunteers
All School Personnel and Volunteers
  • Re-read the Standards for Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries ~ pages 5 through 8
  • A copy of the Standards can be downloaded from website
  • Double check your original copies:
          • Police Check (updated every five years)
          • Child Abuse Clearance (updated every five years)
          • FBI check (if not a PA resident) or hired after 4/1/07 (updated every five years)
          • Signature sheet from attendance at Child Abuse Prevention Training and acceptance of the Standards for Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries; employee must always retain a copy of proof of attendance at the training session

*Copies should be on file in the Rectory (elementary), OCE (secondary and special education) and in the teacher file in the secured files in the office of the principal in the school.

moral and ethical obligation
Moral and Ethical Obligation
  • Our Catholic teaching and tradition calls us to be advocates for those who are powerless and most vulnerable. We have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to report suspected or actual child abuse.
  • If, in the course of your service in a parish or school you encounter anyone who has experienced sexual abuse by a representative of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, please encourage them to contact the Victims’ Assistance Coordinator at 1-888-800-8780. Thank you!


all God's children.

reporting abuse
Reporting Abuse
  • Please call the Office of Catholic Education to report the steps you are taking and to seek further guidance throughout the process:
  • Elementary 215-587-3743
  • Secondary 215-587-2415
  • Special Ed. 215-587-3586
  • Child Line 1-800-932-0313
  • Office of Child and Youth Protection:


Complete the Incident Report prescribed by the OCE within 24 hours of the report.

professional boundaries
Professional Boundaries
  • The relationship between an adult representing the school in any position and a student attending the school is
    • Friendly but professional
    • Frank but considerate
    • Helpful but non-invasive
  • Regardless of the age of students, adults representing the school in any position are in a position of trust and should never cross professional boundaries.
unacceptable behaviors
Unacceptable Behaviors
  • Too personally involved with students – friend, confidant, surrogate parent
  • Seeing students in private or non-school settings
  • Writing or exchanging notes, letters, emails
  • Serving as confidant with regard to student’s decision about personal issues
  • Giving gifts or money to students
  • Inviting students to your home or vacation home
  • Having students overnight in your home or vacation home
  • Driving individual students to and from school
  • Giving one student unique attention
  • Being alone with a student
  • Sharing personal problems or information with a student
  • Initiating physical contact or accepting physical contact
  • Intimidating, harassing or “picking on” a student for any reason

*This list is to establish examples and is not to be considered exhaustive

protective strategies
Protective Strategies
  • Learn about the law and your liability as an adult working with students
  • Keep the door open to a room you are in and NEVER have the classroom door windows covered with material of any kind
  • Compliment or commend a student but do not hug or touch
  • Be aware of boundary violations and report any reasonable suspiciion of child abuse to proper authorities
  • Clarify procedures with your school leadership but do not be afraid to correct inappropriate behavior
  • Get parents and principals approval for all activities off school property
  • Let students know when they are overstepping personal boundaries
  • Seek input form colleagues or other professionals if you are unsure of the appropriateness of your actions or plans
uses of technology
Uses of Technology
  • Respecting boundaries is an important part of the Safe Environment Program, both in face to face interactions and when using technology. Respect for boundaries shows a child:
    • how a trustworthy adult interacts with them
    • what a healthy relationship with an adult is supposed to look like
    • the adult leader’s commitment to the child’s psychological, emotional and physical well-being
uses of technology1
Uses of Technology
  • Adult leaders must obtain the permission of a parent or guardian to contact children by email and social network sites, etc.
  • Text messaging to students is FORBIDDEN in our schools
uses of technology2
Uses of Technology
  • Using the “blind copy” option when sending a message to a group helps to protect the privacy of children by:
    • not sharing their contact information with others who are receiving the same message
use of technology
Use of Technology
  • When using a social networking site to communicate with minors, what is an important consideration:
    • obtaining permission from the pastor, administrator or immediate supervisor to establish a social networking account/group related to the parish, school or organization
    • changing the privacy setting on the account to insure maximum privacy for anyone who has access to the page
    • not allowing minors access to the personal information that you share with your family and friends
uses of technology3
Uses of Technology
  • If a minor sends an adult leader an inappropriate message, the adult leader should copy the communication and show it to their supervisor (pastor, principal, DRE)
  • The owner of a blog should set it up so that all comments are reviewed and approved before they are posted. This practice prevents inappropriate or hurtful comments. (i.e cyber-bullying)
uses of technology4
Uses of Technology
  • An adult leader may post pictures and videos of minors only when:
    • a parent or guardian provides permission
    • all personal information has been edited for safety/privacy purposes
    • the activity is related to the parish or school ministry
uses of technology5
Uses of Technology
  • FALSE…

There are different criteria for reporting the suspected abuse of a child learned through the use of technology.