Jump directly to the content
2013 Child Abuse Reporting Laws for Churches

2013 Child Abuse Reporting Laws for Churches

Annual 50-State Review
Key point 4-08. Every state has a child abuse reporting law that requires persons designated as mandatory reporters to report known or reasonably suspected incidents of child abuse. Ministers are mandatory reporters in many states. Some states exempt ministers from reporting child abuse if they learned of the abuse in the course of a conversation protected by the clergy-penitent privilege. Ministers may face criminal and civil liability for failing to report child abuse.

It is common for ministers to learn that a minor is being abused. This can occur in a number of ways, including a confession by the perpetrator, or a disclosure by a friend or relative of the victim or perpetrator. Often, ministers want to resolve such matters internally through counseling with the victim or the alleged offender, without contacting civil authorities. Such a response can have serious legal consequences, including the following:

ministers who are mandatory reporters under state law face possible criminal prosecution for failing to comply with their state's child abuse reporting law;
some state legislatures have enacted laws permitting child abuse victims to sue ministers for failing to report child abuse; and
some courts have permitted child abuse victims to sue ministers for failing to report child abuse.

As a result, it is imperative for ministers to be able to answer the following questions: (1) What is the definition of reportable "child abuse" under my state child abuse reporting law? (2) Am I a mandatory reporter of child abuse? (3) What if I learn of child abuse in the course of a conversation that is protected by the clergy-penitent privilege? Am I still required to report? (4) How do I report child abuse? Each of these questions is answered in the table that accompanies this article, based on the current child abuse reporting laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Article Preview

This article is currently available to ChurchLawAndTax.com subscribers only. To continue reading:

LoginorSubscribe

Related Resources

See All
from our store
Integrating Sex Offenders into Faith Communities

Integrating Sex Offenders into Faith Communities

Best practices to both welcome the offender and protect the vulnerable
Creating Child Protection Policies

Creating Child Protection Policies

Create solid policies and procedures that will properly screen your staff and keep your kids safe.
Safe Mentoring Relationships

Safe Mentoring Relationships

Examine risks involved in youth ministy and learn ways to safeguard your ministry.
Confronting Peer Abuse in Your Church

Confronting Peer Abuse in Your Church

Learn how to watch and protect the children under your care from peer abuse at church.
browse
Follow us:Church Law & Tax on FacebookChurch Law & Tax on TwitterChurch Law & Tax RSS FeedsChurch Law & Tax on Youtube