Should I Report It?

Sometimes people are uncertain about specifics of reporting. 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 uncertain 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, if a pastor from South Carolina contacted me and asked if their church must report suspected child sexual abuse by a member of their congregation, telling me that he doesn’t think he needs to because the information was only second hand, I can direct him to the actual South Carolina information for pastors. This makes it clear that even second hand 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institution does not relieve a mandated reporter of his or her individual duty to report,and the duty to report is not superseded by an internal investigation within an institution.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)

https://dss.sc.gov/media/1899/dss-brochure-1951-jan-19.pdf

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

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

https://dss.sc.gov/media/1899/dss-brochure-1951-jan-19.pdf

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.

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