Session IV. Reporting Abuse

Who Reports?

The California Penal Code spells identifies mandated reporters. Individuals working in the church who meet one of the following definitions are considered mandated reporters by civil law and diocesan policy.

  •  A teacher
  • A teacher’s aide or teacher’s assistant employed by any public or private school
  • An administrative officer or supervisor of child welfare and attendance, or certificated pupil personnel employee of a public or private school
  • An administrator of a public or private day camp
  •  An administrator or employee of a public or private youth center, youth recreation program, or youth organization
  • An administrator or employee of a public or private organization whose duties require direct contact and supervision of children
  • Any person who is an administrator or presenter of, or a counselor in, a child abuse prevention program in any public or private school
  •  Clergy member, as specified in subdivision (d) of Penal Code Section 11166. As used in this article, “clergy member” means a priest, minister, rabbi, religious practitioner, or similar functionary of a church, temple, or recognized denomination or organization.

Section 11166 subdivision (d) states: (1) a clergy member who acquires knowledge or a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect during a penitential communication is not subject to subdivision (a). For the purposes of this subdivision, “penitential communication” means a communication intended to be in confidence, including, but not limited to, a sacramental confession, made to a clergy member who, in the course of the discipline or practice of his or her church, denomination, or organization, is authorized or accustomed to hear those communications, and under the discipline, tenets, customs, or practices of his or her church, denomination, or organization, has a duty to keep those communications secret.

 

More about the penitential exemption 

When a child tells a particular person who is an individual required to report child abuse, the communication is not privileged.  That individual, by law, must report what the child has related to him or her.  An exception is when the information is relayed during “penitential communication.”  A clergy member who acquires knowledge or reasonable suspicion of child abuse during penitential communication is not required to report abuse or neglect.

Penitential communication is the communication, intended to be in confidence, including but not limited to, a sacramental confession, made to a clergy member who, in the course of the discipline or practice of his or her church, denomination, or organization, is authorized or accustomed to hear those communication, and under the discipline, tenets, customs, or practices of his or her church, denomination, or organization, has a duty to keep those communications secret.  Mandated reporters who report suspected child abuse cases have absolute immunity, both civilly and criminally, for making reports.

Clergy members are exempt from their mandated reporting responsibilities only if the knowledge or reasonable suspicion of child abuse was obtained during a “penitential communication.” A communication that occurred during the Reconciliation of a Penitent would be considered a sacramental confession in the ECUSA and therefore be considered a penitential exemption.

For more on Clergy and Mandated reporting click here.

To continue with the course click on Volunteers and Reporting

 

 

 

 

One Response to Session IV. Reporting Abuse

  1. Alvern Townsend says:

    I think everyone should read the following material about child neglect and abuse.

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