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‘We’re having a huge effect’: Safe environment trainer shares experience from the frontlines of keeping kids safe

Kevin Davies hesitated every time he was asked to become a safe environment trainer – he was either too busy at work or the topic itself didn’t seem very exciting. It would take a few years and a clear need in his parish for Davies to finally give a facilitator in his parish a reluctant “yes.” 

Thirteen years later, he’s trained close to 1,000 people on how to protect children from abuse and neglect. 

“The Church has done so much to stop the abuse and neglect of children,” Davies said. “I believe that if we really looked at the statistics, we’d say we’re having a huge effect.” 

Davies, who is a parishioner at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Collins, has a degree in law enforcement and served as a deputy sheriff, an experience that has helped him appreciate the program even more. 

“It makes me very proud to be part of this effort of the Catholic Church… It’s one of the best programs I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot of training programs,” he said. “The Church really has gone through an extraordinary measure so that parishioners are well educated. There’s around three million people who have received this training.” 

Considering that a great portion of the people he has trained come from different parts of the country, Davies sees the that the impact of this training quickly extends to the national level. And throughout all these years, he has experienced in numerous occasions how meaningful this training has been for many people. 

“I’ve had many specific instances where people have shared a lot with me after class or by email,” he said. “For example, I had a very young lady come up to me and say, ‘I appreciate this so much – to know that I’m not alone. I never got help and I was abused and didn’t realize it.’ 

“I’ve also had people reach out to me regarding family members and neighbors with lots of situational questions and personal experiences they’ve had.” 

Davies has continued giving classes even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He was surprised to receive a call from the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the Archdiocese of Denver personally asking him to give virtual trainings.  

“COVID has been a challenge and a reward,” he said. “It brought a whole new level of challenge none of us ever anticipated. But what this situation has also done for me is to expand my classes beyond my parish to the whole Archdiocese of Denver.” 

This situation has only motivated him to reach more people with the important message of protecting minors from abuse and neglect. His passion becomes evident in person and during his recent virtual classes.  

“Each of you here have the power to change a child’s future, you can stop abuse form happening,” he tells the participants. “If a child is being abused, that abuse will stick with them for the rest of their lives.” 

But overall, as part of this effort by the Church to protect minors from abuse and neglect, Davies emphasized the difference that has already been achieved thanks to the hard work and determination of many people. 

“I think people need to know that the Church is very committed to providing a safe environment not only for our Church, but for our community, and making our world a better place,” he concluded. “I would add the invitation to come and listen to one of these sessions. Through knowledge, we have the power perhaps not to stop this terrible thing, but to stop it for a single child.” 

Vladimir Mauricio-Perez
Vladimir is the editor of El Pueblo Católico and a contributing writer for Denver Catholic.
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