Child Abuse Reporting Law for Churches

Child Abuse Reporting Law for Churches


SITUATION #1 During 2 5th grade Sunday school class, a boy asks for prayer for his mother. He tells you his mother gets mad all the time, and yesterday she hit him on the arms and legs with a belt. He

pulls up his sleeves to show you fresh bruises on his arms. He seems very sad and embarrassed. He asks you to pray that his mother will stop hitting him. 3 QUESTION:

Must you report this to police or child protective services if you are a: Clergy member? Volunteer teacher? Paid teacher or paid youth leader? Elder or deacon? 4 ANSWERS:

Clergy member: YES. This is reportable child physical abuse. Volunteer teacher: NO. Even though this is physical abuse, volunteers are not required to report (but

may report). Paid teacher or paid youth leader: YES. Paid staff who work with children must report child abuse/neglect. Elder

or deacon: YES. Required by PCUSA. 5 WHY? Presentation Outline

6 Presentation Outline (continued) 7 What Is The Child Abuse Reporting Law?

8 9 What Does the Child Abuse Reporting Act Require? 10

What is Reasonable Suspicion? 11 Who Are Mandated Reporters? 12 What does Clergy Member

Include? 13 Other Mandated Reporters in a Church Context 14

15 What about Deacons and Elders? YES

16 Presbyterian Church Book of Order In the Presbyterian Church, mandated reporters of child abuse include: Pastors,

Elders, and Deacons (who are collectively referred to as ordered ministries in G-2.0102)

17 G-4.0302 Mandatory Reporting Any member of this church engaged in ordered ministry and any certified Christian educator employed by this

church or its congregations, shall report to ecclesiastical authorities and civil legal authorities knowledge of harm, related to the physical abuse, neglect, and/or sexual molestation or abuse of a minor or an adult who lacks mental capacity when (1) such information is gained outside of a confidential communication as defined in G-4.0301, (2) she or he is not bound by an obligation of privileged communication under law, or (3) she or he reasonably believes that there is a risk of future physical harm or abuse.

18 Caution California reporting law is STRICTER than Presbyterian reporting law. California

law requires a report of suspected child abuse even if the mandated reporter does not believe there is a risk of future harm. California law requires a report if there is

reasonable suspicion of child abuse, not necessarily actual knowledge. 19 What About Volunteers? 20

21 How to Report Suspected Child Abuse? NEW 22

What Liability for Failing to Report? 23 What Protection for Reporting? 24

What are the 4 types of reportable child maltreatment? 25 26 What About Spanking?

27 BUT SEE American Academy of Pediatrics Policy statement, December 2018 issue of Pediatrics

Corporal punishment and harsh verbal abuse may cause a child to be fearful in the short term but does not improve behavior over the long term and may cause more aggressive behaviors, according to the AAP. In one study, young children who were spanked more than twice a month at age 3 were more aggressive at age 5. Those same children at age 9 still exhibited negative behaviors and lower receptive vocabulary scores, according to the research.

Research has shown that striking a child, yelling at or shaming them can elevate stress hormones and lead to changes in the brain's architecture. 28 SITUATION #2

Same 29 5TH grade class, but instead of revealing physical abuse, the boy tells you that the night before his father got mad at his mother, and punched her in the face with his fist, causing her to bleed and lose consciousness. The boy tells

you he cannot concentrate in class today because he cannot get the images out of his mind. He asks you to pray that his father will stop hitting his mother. 30 QUESTION:

Must you report this as suspected child abuse to police/CPS if you are a clergy member or paid youth leader or paid teacher? 31 ANSWER: YES.

You must report domestic violence which caused serious physical injury to the child or created a risk of serious physical injury; OR, which caused serious emotional damage to the child or created a substantial risk of serious emotional damage. There is a compelling body of research which documents the serious harm to children caused by exposure to domestic violence.

What is Domestic Violence? 32 How Does Domestic Violence Affect Children? 33

34 This is why domestic violence is reportable as child abuse 35 Under what category of

child maltreatment does domestic violence fall? 36 37 What Causes Neglect?

38 Situation #3 After 39 your weekly worship service, the mother of a ninth grade girl informs you

that after last weekends senior high youth group beach retreat, the youth director began exchanging sexually explicit text messages and pictures with her daughter. 40 QUESTION:

Must the pastor report this to law enforcement or child protective services? 41 ANSWER: YES.

This is reportable sexual abuse. Sexual abuse includes any sexual touching or sexual exploitation, including child pornography. 42 43

But what causes some churches (and schools) to violate child abuse reporting law in cases involving alleged sexual abuse? Sanctions for IMPEDING

a Report of Suspected Abuse 44 How do church personnel policies affect the duty to report? 45

SITUATION #4 About 46 an hour before your weekly worship service is scheduled to begin, an unfamiliar family appears at your office door asking for money to buy gas and food. The

children are dirty and disheveled and say they are hungry. 47 QUESTION: Must you report this family to the police or CPS as suspected child

neglect? 48 ANSWER: NO. While you have apparent poverty, you dont have enough info to suspect

neglect causing serious harm. Question: Does your answer change if you smell strong odor of alcohol on the parents breath? Practical Tips 49

DFCS stopped this practice in 2018 50 51 CANRA TRAINING RESOURCES Child

52 Abuse Prevention Council for Santa Clara County: cac.aspx Free

training for all Santa Clara County mandated reporters: [email protected] Online training for California mandated reporters:

ELDER AND DEPENDENT ADULT ABUSE OR NEGLECT Reporting Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act - Welfare and Institutions Code

15600 15640 The purpose of the Act is to require health practitioners, care custodians, clergy members and employees of county adult protective services agencies and local law enforcement agencies to report known or suspected cases

of abuse of elders and to encourage community members to do so. 1. WHAT IS REPORTABLE? Any mandated reporter who, in his or her professional capacity, or within the scope of his or her employment, has observed or has knowledge of an incident that

reasonably appears to be physical abuse. . . abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial abuse, or neglect, or is told by an elder or dependent adult that he or she has experienced behavior, including an act or omission, constituting physical abuse . . . abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial abuse, or neglect, or reasonably suspects that abuse, shall report the known or suspected instance of abuse by telephone immediately or as soon as practicably possible, and by written report sent

within two working days, as follows: . . . Welfare and Institutions Code 15630(b)(1) 2. WHO IS A MANDATED REPORTER?

Any person who has assumed full or intermittent responsibility for the care or custody of an elder or dependent adult, whether or not he or she receives compensation, including administrators, supervisors, and any licensed staff of a public or private facility that provides care or services for elder or dependent adults, or any elder or dependent adult care custodian, health

practitioner, clergy member, or employee of a county adult protective services agency or a local law enforcement agency, is a mandated reporter. Welfare and Institutions Code 15630 3. WHO IS AN ELDER OR

DEPENDENT ADULT? ELDER: a person residing in California who is 65 years of age or older. DEPENDENT ADULT: a person between the ages of 18-64 who resides in California and who has physical or mental limitations that restrict his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her rights; or,

someone between the ages of 18-64 who has been admitted as an inpatient to 24 hour health facilities, including, but not limited to, general acute care hospitals, acute psychiatric hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities. Note: Unlike mandated child abuse

reporters, the list of mandated elder abuse reporters is fairly short. Note: Recall that Elders and Deacons are required to report both child abuse and elder abuse under the Book of Order. 4. HOW TO REPORT SUSPECTED ELDER ABUSE

You must report suspected elder abuse to your local law enforcement agency or to Adult Protective Services. In

Santa Clara County, the phone number for APS is 408-975-4900 or 1-800414-2002. Thank You For Protecting Our Children, Youth and Seniors! Slides prepared by L. Michael Clark

Superior Court Judge Santa Clara County Rev. 3/29 /201 9. 60

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