Over the past few years, we have seen the Roman Catholic Church suffer great condemnation because her priests have not only abused young men, and at times young women, but that others priests covered-it up. Molestation is a heinous crime, but the cover-up is infinitely more serious.
In the United States, in the individual states, laws have been enacted to order certain people – and in some states, all people – to report instances of abuse of any variety.
A few years ago, I was given information about severe abuse on two precious little girls. As a minister, then, I was bound by law to report what I knew. In no time, we were in court, on the witness stand, staring down months of threats and harassment, torment and near torture, but I told the truth and I did my duty. The harassment didn’t stop – Child Services were called on my family – but I was proud to do my duty then, because in the end, the little bit that I knew, was only the small tip of a very large iceberg.
That’s the way with child abuse, of any kind – it’s not just a slap here, but something more serious. It’s not just inappropriate touching of one child, but more often than not, it involves other children. What you see, believe it or not, is generally only a small portion of what is going on. That is why it is important for those required by law – which is supported by Scripture – to do their duty.
If I had not reported what I knew, I believe that I would have been just as guilt as those parents who abused those two precious little girls.
Tennessee for instance, requires
Any wound, injury, disability, or physical or mental condition which is of a nature as to reasonably indicate that it has been caused by brutality, abuse, or neglect; also includes sexual abuse (37-1-401, et seq.)
Be reported by,
Physician, chiropractor, hospital personnel, any other health or mental health professional, spiritual healing practitioner, school teacher/personnel, judge, social worker, day care center worker, foster care worker, law enforcement officer, neighbor, relative, friend, or any other person
Having knowledge or being called on to render aid to any child suffering from or sustaining a wound or injury which is of such a nature as to reasonably indicate or which on the basis of available information appears to indicate have been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect
And if you fail to report?
Class A misdemeanor – Possible Jail Sentence of 11 months and 29 days, with a maximum fine of $2,500
Most states have a mandatory reporting requirement for clergy; frankly, I believe that all states should be like Tennessee. In studying the laws in my home state, I found that child abuse laws actually grew from the laws afforded to animals.
As members of the ministry, you not only take upon yourselfs the solomn duty of God, but you must respect the laws of Caesar as well.
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