Introduction Page 3

California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act was amended in 1997 to add members of the clergy to the list of mandated reporters. The Act further mandates that “any custodian of records of a clergy member” must report suspected child abuse. The reporting requirements and protections for clergy members are identical to the requirements and protections for other mandated reporters, except for the provision exempting suspicions of child maltreatment acquired during a “penitential communication” from the mandate to report. However, “Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to modify or limit a clergy member's duty to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect when the clergy member is acting in some other capacity that would otherwise make the clergy member a mandated reporter.” (PC 11166 (d)(2)).

As a clergy member, you may be the trusted adult to whom a child makes an initial disclosure of abuse. In addition, perpetrators of child abuse and/or family members may come to you for advice when abuse has been discovered. Clergy members have both a moral and a legal obligation to report when there is the possibility that a child has been harmed. It is important to be knowledgeable about what to look for and how to respond when these situations arise.

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