appears there are a few misconceptions when it comes to the reporting
of child abuse. Some have taken statements I have made out
of context to make it appear there is a contradiction in how silentlambs
views the issue of reporting child molestation. Whether this
is an attempt out of ignorance or being done intentionally remains
to be seen. The point is that in all fifty States it is MANDATORY
to report child molestation. What does MANDATORY mean? Webster’s
defines it as:
by or as if by mandate or command: obligatory.”
the question remains is it MANDATORY in all fifty states for clergy
to report child molestation? The answer is no. Only
sixteen States require mandatory cleric reporting of child molestation.
So when I make comments that relate to NON-MANDATORY reporting
I refer to the State law that allows clergy to not report child
The next question that would arise, are parents MANDATED to report
child abuse. The answer is YES! Each State has certain
laws and penalties that are defined locally for parental
non-reporting of child molestation. These penalties can range
from being charged with a misdemeanor and facing some type of fine
or jail time to loss of custodial care due to negligence.
federal law Child Abuse Prevention
and Treatment Act (CAPTA)(Jan. 1996 version), 42 U.S.C.
5101, et seq.. requires all fifty States to
comply with MANDATORY reporting or lose federal funding, no State
is not receiving Federal funding due to non-compliance.
the point remains, the 2-15-02 BOE letter is out
of harmony with Federal guidelines regarding the MANDATORY reporting
of child abuse. The BOE letter states that reporting is optional
with the statement:
“If you are asked, make it clear that whether to report
the matter to the authorities or not is a personal decision for
each individual to make and that there are no congregation sanctions
for either decision.”
is if PARENTS choose to not report they will not
be reported to authorities and will remain as good examples within
the congregation. This is in violation of MANDATORY reporting
laws in all fifty states and is also in violation of JW doctrine
that requires all JW”S to be in subjection to the “superior
authorities” in all legal matters unless man’s law
conflicts with God’s law. In this instance WT is condoning
the defiance of MANDATORY reporting laws on child molestation and
leaving it a personal decision.
those of you who wish to split hairs with supposed concern for “timid” victims
or going to the nth degree to find a basis to not report, you
are simply dead wrong, the LAW argues otherwise.
am including below the link and comments from a website that goes
into all details of this subject. I encourage any who have
further questions to educate yourself on this topic. This
website has been posted on silentlambs for over one year as are
many other resources on the “assistance” page. For
those who wish to make broad sweeping remarks on this topic many
would be better served to read before they speak out and thus have
a better grasp of why WT Policy is vastly deficient and must change
to protect children.
Mandatory Reporting Facts
· All 50 states have passed
some form of a mandatory child abuse and neglect reporting law in order
to qualify for funding under the Child Abuse Prevention
and Treatment Act (CAPTA)(Jan. 1996 version), 42 U.S.C. 5101, et seq.. The Act was originally passed
in 1974, has been amended several times and was most recently amended
and reauthorized on October 3, 1996, by the Child Abuse Prevention
and Treatment and Adoption Act Amendments of 1996 (P.L. 104-235). CAPTA's Legislative history.
mandates "minimum definitions" for child abuse and
sexual abuse. Child abuse or neglect is any recent act
or failure to act:
in imminent risk of serious harm, death, serious physical or emotional
harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation
a child (usually a person under the age of 18, but a younger age may
be specified in cases not involving sexual abuse)
a parent or caretaker who is responsible for the child's welfare
Sexual abuse is defined as
use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to
engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit
conduct or any simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing
any visual depiction of such conduct; or
and in cases of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory
rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation
of children, or incest with children.
· Link to a more
detailed discussion of what constitutes abuse and neglect.
states have modeled their laws after the Model Child Protection Act.
Federal DHS, Children's Bureau has published a "how to" site
including hot line phone numbers for the 50 states. How to Report
Suspected Abuse and Neglect.
states require certain professionals and institutions to report suspected
child abuse, including health care providers and facilities of all
types, mental health care providers of all types, teachers and other
school personnel, social workers, day care providers and law enforcement
personnel. Many states require film developers to report.
number of states have broad statutes requiring "any person" to report.
The National Clearinghouse
on Child Abuse and Neglect Information is legislatively
mandated to maintain information on line about mandatory
reporting statutes. The NCCA site contains an extensive
library of PDF documents summarizing and comparing state
child abuse protection and reporting laws. The statutes-at-a-glance
reports and have information on reporting issues in all
50 states. The Clearinghouse keeps its statutory compilations
up to date and puts them in concise plain-language format.
Actual statutory language (where easily viewed) and other state resources
are listed in the table
of the knowledge triggering the duty to report varies. Some statutes
call for reporting upon a mere "reasonable cause to believe" or
a "reasonable suspicion." Other statutes require the reporter
to "know or suspect," which is a higher degree of knowledge.
to report suspected child abuse can result in criminal liability, although
the liability is typically a misdemeanor punishable by a fine.
to report can result in civil liability.
· Immunity. CAPTA
requires states to enact legislation that provides for immunity from
prosecution arising out of the reporting abuse or neglect. In most
states, a person who reports suspected child abuse in "good faith" is absolutely
immune from criminal and civil
liability. For that reason, most healthcare attorneys will advise a client "that it is far better, in theory,
to be faced with defending a civil action for reporting suspected abuse
rather than the bleak alternative of defending a civil action . . .
if a child is injured or killed as a result of failing to make a report
of suspected child abuse.
Reporting. The 1993 CAPTA amendments require states
to enact legislation providing for prosecution in false reporting
cases (reports made without having a reasonable belief that the
report is true.) The false reporting laws must be read together
with the immunity statutes and case law, however; persons who report
in "good faith" are immune from civil and criminal liability.
As a matter of public policy, prosecutors should be extremely selective
in initiating false reporting prosecutions so that reporting is
and Privileges. Some statutes expressly provide
that all confidential privileges are abrogated. Some states provide
an exemption for clergyman who receive information in the context
of a sacred communication or confession. The clergy/penitent
exception, however, is strictly defined and will not apply if
a clergyman is acting in another role, i.e. a health practitioner.
This raises the issue of whether pastoral counselors in private
practice can assert the privilege.
· Attorneys. An
attorney is prohibited by ethical constraints from reporting if the
information is obtained from a perpetrator or other responsible party
exposed to criminal or civil liability via an attorney/client communication.
In addition, no statute can abrogate the attorney/client privilege
in the context of the defense of a person accused of a crime because
such a prohibition would violate the accused person's Constitutional
right to counsel. When attorneys represent children or adults in other
settings however, there are competing considerations and reporting
may be mandatory or permissible. American Bar Association Standards
of Practice For Lawyers Representing a Child in Abuse and Neglect Cases.
states require the report to be made to some type of law enforcement
authority or child protection agency. Reporting to a parent or relative
will not satisfy the reporter's legal duty under the statutes.
now have similar statutes requiring the reporting of elder abuse.