27 Dec 2010

Summary of US State legislation on the issue of clergy as mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect



Child Welfare Information Gateway

Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Laws


Current Through April 2010


This brief introduction summarizes how States address this topic in statute. To access the statutes for a specific State or territory, visit the State Statutes Search.

Every State, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have statutes that identify persons who are required to report child maltreatment under specific circumstances.1 Approximately 26 States currently include members of the clergy among those professionals specifically mandated by law to report known or suspected instances of child abuse or neglect.2 In approximately 18 States and Puerto Rico, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report.3 This inclusive language appears to include clergy but may be interpreted otherwise.

Privileged Communications

As a doctrine of some faiths, clergy must maintain the confidentiality of pastoral communications. Mandatory reporting statutes in some States specify the circumstances under which a communication is "privileged" or allowed to remain confidential. Privileged communications may be exempt from the requirement to report suspected abuse or neglect. The privilege of maintaining this confidentiality under State law must be provided by statute. Most States do provide the privilege, typically in rules of evidence or civil procedure.4 If the issue of privilege is not addressed in the reporting laws, it does not mean that privilege is not granted; it may be granted in other parts of State statutes.

This privilege, however, is not absolute. While clergy-penitent privilege is frequently recognized within the reporting laws, it is typically interpreted narrowly in the context of child abuse or neglect. The circumstances under which it is allowed vary from State to State, and in some States it is denied altogether. For example, among the States that list clergy as mandated reporters, New Hampshire and West Virginia deny the clergy-penitent privilege in cases of child abuse or neglect. Four of the States that enumerate "any person" as a mandated reporter (North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Texas) also deny clergy-penitent privilege in child abuse cases.

In States where neither clergy members nor "any person" are enumerated as mandated reporters, it is less clear whether clergy are included as mandated reporters within other broad categories of professionals who work with children. For example, in Virginia and Washington, clergy are not enumerated as mandated reporters, but the clergy-penitent privilege is affirmed within the reporting laws.

Many States and territories include Christian Science practitioners or religious healers among professionals who are mandated to report suspected child maltreatment. In most instances, they appear to be regarded as a type of health-care provider. Only nine States (Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, South Carolina, and Vermont) explicitly include Christian Science practitioners among classes of clergy required to report. In those States the clergy-penitent privilege is also extended to those practitioners by statute.

The chart below summarizes how States have or have not addressed the issue of clergy as mandated reporters (either specifically or as part of a broad category) and/or clergy-penitent privilege (either limiting or denying the privilege) within their reporting laws. 
 





Privilege granted but limited to pastoral communicationsPrivilege denied in cases of suspected child abuse or neglectPrivilege not addressed in the reporting laws
Clergy enumerated as mandated reporters





Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Wisconsin New Hampshire, West Virginia Connecticut, Mississippi
Clergy not enumerated as mandated reporters but may be included with "any person" designation





Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Utah, Wyoming North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas Indiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, Puerto Rico


Neither clergy nor "any person" enumerated as mandated reporters




Virginia, Washington5 Not applicable Alaska, American Samoa, District of Columbia, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, New York, Northern Mariana Islands, South Dakota, Virgin Islands

To access the statutes for a specific State or territory, visit the State Statutes Search.
 
1 For more information on mandated reporters, see Child Welfare Information Gateway's Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect
 
2 The word approximately is used to stress the fact that States frequently amend their laws. This information is current only through April 2010; States that include clergy as mandated reporters are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

3 Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Three of these States (Mississippi, New Hampshire, and New Mexico) also enumerate clergy as mandated reporters.

4 The issue of clergy-penitent privilege also may be addressed in case law, which this publication does not cover.

5 Clergy are not mandated reporters in Washington, but if they elect to report, their report and any testimony are provided statutory immunity from liability.

This publication is a product of the State Statutes Series prepared by Child Welfare Information Gateway. While every attempt has been made to be as complete as possible, additional information on these topics may be in other sections of a State's code as well as agency regulations, case law, and informal practices and procedures.

This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare Information Gateway.

This article was found at:

http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/clergymandated.cfm

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Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Law


Child Welfare Information Gateway

Current Through April 2010


This brief introduction summarizes how States address this topic in statute. To access the statutes for a specific State or territory, visit the State Statutes Search.

All States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have statutes identifying persons who are required to report child maltreatment under specific circumstances.

Professionals Required to Report

Approximately 48 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands designate professions whose members are mandated by law to report child maltreatment.1 Individuals designated as mandatory reporters typically have frequent contact with children. Such individuals may include:
  • Social workers
  • Teachers and other school personnel
  • Physicians and other health-care workers
  • Mental health professionals
  • Child care providers
  • Medical examiners or coroners
  • Law enforcement officers

Some other professions frequently mandated across the States include commercial film or photograph processors (in 11 States, Guam, and Puerto Rico), substance abuse counselors (in 14 States), and probation or parole officers (in 17 States).2 Seven States and the District of Columbia include domestic violence workers on the list of mandated reporters, while seven States and the District of Columbia include animal control or humane officers.3 Court-appointed special advocates are mandatory reporters in nine States.4 Members of the clergy now are required to report in 26 States.5

Reporting by Other Persons


In approximately 18 States and Puerto Rico, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report. Of these 18 States, 16 States and Puerto Rico specify certain professionals who must report but also require all persons to report suspected abuse or neglect, regardless of profession.6 New Jersey and Wyoming require all persons to report without specifying any professions. In all other States, territories, and the District of Columbia, any person is permitted to report. These voluntary reporters of abuse are often referred to as "permissive reporters."

Standards for Making a Report

The circumstances under which a mandatory reporter must make a report vary from State to State. Typically, a report must be made when the reporter, in his or her official capacity, suspects or has reasons to believe that a child has been abused or neglected. Another standard frequently used is when the reporter has knowledge of, or observes a child being subjected to, conditions that would reasonably result in harm to the child. Permissive reporters follow the same standards when electing to make a report.

Privileged Communications

Mandatory reporting statutes also may specify when a communication is privileged. "Privileged communications" is the statutory recognition of the right to maintain confidential communications between professionals and their clients, patients, or congregants. To enable States to provide protection to maltreated children, the reporting laws in most States and territories restrict this privilege for mandated reporters. All but three States and Puerto Rico currently address the issue of privileged communications within their reporting laws, either affirming the privilege or denying it (i.e., not allowing privilege to be grounds for failing to report).7 For instance:
  • The physician-patient and husband-wife privileges are the most common to be denied by States.
  • The attorney-client privilege is most commonly affirmed.
  • The clergy-penitent privilege is also widely affirmed, although that privilege usually is limited to confessional communications and, in some States, denied altogether.8
Inclusion of the Reporter's Name in the Report

Most States maintain toll-free telephone numbers for receiving reports of abuse or neglect.9 Reports may be made anonymously to most of these reporting numbers, but States find it helpful to their investigations to know the identity of reporters. Approximately 18 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands currently require mandatory reporters to provide their names and contact information, either at the time of the initial oral report or as part of a written report.10 The laws in Connecticut, Delaware, and Washington allow child protection workers to request the name of the reporter. In Wyoming, the reporter does not have to provide his or her identity as part of the written report, but if the person takes and submits photographs or x rays of the child, his or her name must be provided.

Disclosure of the Reporter's Identity

All jurisdictions have provisions in statute to maintain the confidentiality of abuse and neglect records. The identity of the reporter is specifically protected from disclosure to the alleged perpetrator in 39 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands.11 This protection is maintained even when other information from the report may be disclosed.

Release of the reporter's identity is allowed in some jurisdictions under specific circumstances or to specific departments or officials. For example, disclosure of the reporter's identity can be ordered by the court when there is a compelling reason to disclose (in California, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Guam) or upon a finding that the reporter knowingly made a false report (in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia). In some jurisdictions (California, Florida, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and Guam), the reporter can waive confidentiality and give consent to the release of his or her name.

To access the statutes for a specific State or territory, visit the State Statutes Search.
 
 
1 The word approximately is used to stress the fact that States frequently amend their laws. This information is current only through April 2010. At that time, New Jersey and Wyoming were the only two States that did not enumerate specific professional groups as mandated reporters but required all persons to report.

2 Film processors are mandated reporters in Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. Substance abuse counselors are required to report in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Probation or parole officers are mandated reporters in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. back

3 Domestic violence workers are mandated reporters in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, and South Dakota. Humane officers are mandated reporters in California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.

4 Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

5 Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. For more information, see Child Welfare Information Gateway's Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect at www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/clergymandated.cfm.

6 Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

7 Connecticut, Mississippi, and New Jersey do not currently address the issue of privileged communications within their reporting laws. The issue of privilege may be addressed elsewhere in the statutes of these States, such as rules of evidence.

8 New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia disallow the use of the clergy-penitent privilege as grounds for failing to report suspected child abuse or neglect. For a more complete discussion of the requirement for clergy to report child abuse and neglect, see the Information Gateway's Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect at www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/clergymandated.cfm.

9 For State-specific information about these hotlines, see Information Gateway's Child Abuse Reporting Numbers at www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/reslist/rl_dsp.cfm?rs_id=5&rate_chno=11-11172.

10 California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Vermont have this requirement.

11 The statutes in Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the Virgin Islands do not specifically protect reporter identity but do provide for confidentiality of records in general.

This publication is a product of the State Statutes Series prepared by Child Welfare Information Gateway. While every attempt has been made to be as complete as possible, additional information on these topics may be in other sections of a State's code as well as agency regulations, case law, and informal practices and procedures.
 
 
This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare Information Gateway.


This article was found at:

http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/manda.cfm


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3 comments:

  1. Prosecute professionals who stay silent on child abuse claims – Keir Starmer

    Former director of public prosecutions calls for change in law to prevent more victims slipping through net

    by Josh Halliday, The Guardian November 4, 2013

    Teachers and health workers should be prosecuted for failing to alert the police to allegations of child abuse, according to the former director of public prosecutions, who is calling for an overhaul of the law to prevent more victims from slipping through the net.

    Keir Starmer QC, who left his role as Britain's top prosecutor last week, becomes the most senior official to call for the introduction of mandatory reporting following a string of high-profile cases, including the Jimmy Savile scandal, in which victims of the TV and radio star were repeatedly failed by the social care system.

    In an interview with BBC1's Panorama programme to be aired on Monday, Starmer says: "I think the time has come to change the law and close a gap that's been there for a very long time. I think there should be a mandatory reporting provision."

    Starmer says Britain should be brought into step with countries such as the US, Canada and Australia, where it is a criminal offence for care professionals not to report child abuse allegations to the authorities.

    "The problem is, if you haven't got a central provision requiring people to report, then all you can do is fall back on other provisions that aren't really designed for that purpose and that usually means they run into difficulties. What you really need is a clear, direct law that everybody understands," he says.

    His intervention comes a year after it was revealed that Savile, who died in 2011, had abused hundreds of victims at schools, hospitals and BBC premises over five decades.

    Savile was never apprehended, despite high-level concerns over his behaviour and complaints to police and care workers.

    The debate over mandatory reporting was reignited in September following the death of Daniel Pelka, the four-year-old who was tortured and starved by his mother and stepfather at his home in Coventry.

    A damning serious case review found that Pelka was "invisible" to a vast number of professionals including his teachers, police officers and social workers, who missed dozens of chances to rescue the child before his death in March 2012.

    Starmer says: "I think this is a very real issue that has been with us for a very long time. You can go back to the 50s and probably earlier to find examples, but you can find many more recent examples, and it's a very simple proposition: if you're in a position of authority, and you have cause to believe that a child has been abused, you really ought to do something about it."

    continued below

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  2. The programme hears from two abuse victims, including a woman who says she was attacked at Stoke Mandeville hospital in 1977 when she was 12.

    She was allegedly raped by Savile while recovering from an operation to have her tonsils removed. Despite telling a nurse, she says she was told to keep quiet.

    The woman's solicitor, Liz Dux, said her client was "failed by people entrusted to keep her safe" and was speaking out for the first time to call for a mandatory reporting law.

    "If there had been a compulsion to report, these victims may have been spared," said Dux, of the law firm Slater & Gordon.

    "We call upon the government to take steps to introduce legislation where those in regulated activities who have direct knowledge of abuse and fail to report it could also face prosecution. This will better protect those in the future."

    The Catholic church and the Church of England, which have both faced a series of high-profile child abuse allegations in the past year, also tell the programme that they back mandatory reporting.

    The Right Rev Paul Butler, head of safeguarding at the Church of England, said: "We have to think of the child first, not ourselves, not the institution – what's best for the child."

    However, the Department for Education said mandatory reporting was "not the answer" and there were no plans to change the law.

    A spokesman for the department said: "Guidance is already crystal clear that professionals should refer immediately to social care when they are concerned about a child.

    "Other countries have tried mandatory reporting and there is no evidence to show that it is a better system for protecting children. In fact there is evidence to show it can make children less safe."

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/04/child-abuse-keir-starmer-prosecute-professionals

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  3. Top Anglican calls for lifting seal of confessional in child abuse cases

    byTrevor Grundy | Religion News Service October 23, 2014

    CANTERBURY, England (RNS) Anglican priests should no longer be bound by the centuries-old principle of confidentiality in confessions when they are told of sexual crimes committed against children, the Church of England’s No. 2 official said.

    Speaking at the end of an internal inquiry on whether senior church officials ignored abuse allegations involving children, Archbishop of York John Sentamu said that “what happened was shameful, terrible, bad, bad, bad.”

    He said that the Church of England must break the confidentiality of confession in cases where people disclosed the abuse of children. “If someone tells you a child has been abused, the confession doesn’t seem to me a cloak for hiding that business. How can you hear a confession about somebody abusing a child and the matter must be sealed up and you mustn’t talk about it?”

    The inquiry was commissioned by Uganda-born Sentamu after an investigation by The Times newspaper exposed an Anglican priest, Robert Waddington, as a serial sexual abuser of children in England and Australia for more than 50 years.

    Waddington, who died in 2007, was head of education for the Church of England, a dean of Manchester Cathedral in the English Midlands and governor of a music school where he was alleged to be responsible for mass abuse against children.

    In July, Anglicans in Australia backed a historic change that breaks the convention that the confidentiality of what a man or woman tells a priest during confession is inviolable.

    While more common among Roman Catholics, some traditionalist Anglicans also practice confession, referred to as the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    Existing church law demands that the confession of a crime is to be kept confidential unless the person making the confession consents to the priest disclosing it. The Roman Catholic Church insists that the seal of confession is inviolable — even when it involves a person confessing to sexual crimes committed against children.

    http://www.religionnews.com/2014/10/23/top-anglican-calls-lifting-seal-confessional-child-abuse-cases/

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