Have you been sexually abused by a trusted leader in your church or a community organization? Millions of children per year are sexually abused in places that are considered “safe” such as in local religious facilities (churches), camps, groups who specialize in the care of children, schools, foster homes, orphan facilities and the like. The abuse can last for years and go unmentioned even when it is well known in the organization by staff. Facilities that tout the safe keeping of children have legal responsibilities to protect and nurture those in their care; however, these institutions often fall grievously short. Even worse, very often abusive perpetrators are drawn to work at these organizations because they offer a pool of children to groom and victimize while staff ignores suspicious activities of abuse behind the scenes. Most child victims of sexual abuse know and trust their abusers.
Sexually Abused? All States Require Child Abuse Reporting from Mandatory Reporters
Those in the care of children are considered Mandatory Reporters. They are required by law to report any suspicious activity regarding sexually abused children. Having reasonable suspicion of a sexually abused child requires a duty to report yet, most often mandatory reporters do not report abuse. Why?
- Fear of losing your job
- Fear of others finding out that you are the one that reported the incident;
- Fear that you may not have enough evidence that a child was sexually abused and inadvertently implicate an innocent person
Who is a Mandatory Reporter of a Sexually Abused Child?
In general, doctors, teachers, clergy, childcare workers and the like are considered mandatory reporters. However, many states require everyone to be a mandatory reporter with legal responsibilities regarding the same. It is important to know if you are considered a mandatory reporter in your state and what your duties are. If your state considers you a mandatory reporter, reporting an incident of a sexually abused child to clergy or other leaders does not relieve you of your legal responsibilities. You must report abuse to law enforcement officials and directly to the state you live in. Failing to report child sexual abuse will expose you to a criminal penalty and possible civil liability which could include a public reputation exposure.
In Some Cases Members of the General Public Are Considered Mandatory Reporters
Learn your state’s requirements at www.childwelfare.gov.
For ministers: Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect.
For all other individuals: Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Call the child abuse hotline in your state. Find your state’s hotline here.