New Minister

Continuing education for ministry leaders
New Minister
Weekly Lessons, created and written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA, give you a basic legal overview of essential topics based on staff or volunteer positions within a church.

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This Week's LessonWeek of November 10

Am I Required to Report Child Abuse?

Introduction

This lesson examines what new ministers need to know about child abuse reporting. The Executive Summary provides a concise review of the key points. Before we get started, test your knowledge by completing the following quiz.

Quiz

Executive Summary

It is essential for new ministers to be familiar with child abuse reporting requirements under state law. Unfamiliarity with these requirements can lead to criminal and civil liability. This lesson provides an overview of this important topic.

Lesson

It is common for ministers to learn that a minor is being abused. This can occur in a number of ways, including a disclosure by the victim or a friend or relative of the victim, or a confession by the perpetrator. Often, ministers assume that they can resolve such matters by counseling with the victim or the alleged offender, without contacting civil authorities. Such a response can have serious legal consequences, including the following: (1) Ministers who are mandatory reporters under state law face possible criminal prosecution for failing to comply with their state's child abuse reporting law; (2) some state legislatures have enacted laws permitting child abuse victims to sue ministers for failing to report child abuse; and (3) some courts have permitted child abuse victims to sue ministers for failing to report child abuse.

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