It’s Not that Hard to Know What to Do

As advocates, it’s important that we direct those seeking help to the actual laws of their state, while encouraging everyone to be a moral reporter.

At A Better Way, we often get asked for information about how to report suspected child abuse, or when to report or where to report. Or who are mandatory reporters. Sometimes people are unclear about specifics of reporting.

First of all, A Better Way’s position is that we should all be moral reporters of child abuse. No one should want to hide child abuse, or do anything that enables it or allows it to continue. But in addition to that, some people are mandatory reporters, and there are requirements they must follow by law.

When I am asked for information, I don’t have to just grope around and hope I’m providing accurate information. The age of the internet has allowed me to quickly track down and find the relevant information.

For instance, let’s say that a pastor from South Carolina contacts me and asks if their church must report suspected child sexual abuse by a member of their congregation. Let’s say that he doesn’t think he needs to report because the information was only secondhand. I can direct him to the actual South Carolina information for pastors. This makes it clear that even secondhand reports fall into the category that must be reported.

As mandated reporters, clergy members must report when in their professional capacity they have received information which gives them reason to believe a child has been or may be abused or neglected as defined in S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-20.

The mandate to report child abuse or neglect does not require the reporter to know for certain that a child has been abused or neglected. The duty to report is triggered when the mandated reporter has the reasonable belief that a child has been or may be abused or neglected. Reporting to a supervisor or person in charge of an institution does not relieve a mandated reporter of his or her individual duty to report, and the duty to report is not superseded by an internal investigation within an institution. S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-310(C)

Further, I can also show them the clear stand South Carolina (wisely) takes about clergy failure to report:

A clergy member who knowingly fails to report, in an effort to resolve the matter internally with the parties involved, could face criminal and civil liability. A mandated reporter who knowingly fails to report is guilty of a misdemeanor and if convicted, may be fined up to $500, or imprisoned for up to six months, or both. S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-410

As advocates, it’s important that we direct those seeking help to the actual laws of their state, while encouraging everyone to be a moral reporter.

Please see the “Brochures” page for more information on reporting abuse.

One reply on “It’s Not that Hard to Know What to Do”

What about the grey areas? As a confidant, what is my role with very limited access to the internet/online laws? Examples- A friend confides that her dad sexually abused her before she moved out. Now she sees him abusing her nieces and nephews. Or a boy that leaves home and shares that his sisters are all being violated by their father and uncle. All live in a church community that is extremely tight and they know they could pay with their life (not an exaggeration) if they report.
What advice would you give in these situations?

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