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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Appendix 4: Child Abuse Reporting Laws

Volume 1 . Chapter 4

Application of Child Abuse Reporting Laws to Ministers and Lay Church Workers-50 State Survey

Before using the table, review the following notes:

  • Most states classify persons as mandatory or permissive reporters of child abuse. Mandatory reporters are legally required to report known or reasonably suspected cases of child abuse, and they face criminal penalties (normally a misdemeanor) for failing to do so. Permissive reporters are persons who are not mandatory reporters. They are permitted to report, but are not legally required to do so.
  • Most states do not list "ministers" as mandatory reporters. However, this does not mean that ministers are not mandatory reporters. Ministers are mandatory reporters in any state that makes "any person" a mandatory reporter of child abuse. In other states, ministers may be mandatory reporters if they perform the duties of one of the specified categories of mandatory reporter. For example, a minister may be a mandatory reporter because he or she is a teacher or administrator at a church-operated school, or serves as a counselor.

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