- CHILD ABUSE POLICY AND PROCEDURES
- REPORTING CHILD ABUSE - THE REPORTING LAW
- MAKING A REPORT
- DETECTION OF CHILD ABUSE
- WHO TO CALL
- INTERVIEWING A VICTIM AT SCHOOL WHEN THE MATTER PERTAINS TO CHILD ABUSE WITHIN THE CHILD'S HOME
- EMPLOYMENT REQUIREMENTS
- PREVENTION AND PREPARATION
- WHAT TO DO WHEN ABUSE OR NEGLECT IS SUSPECTED
- INDEPENDENT FACT FINDING COMMITTEE
- A FINAL NOTE
CHILD ABUSE POLICY AND PROCEDURES #
The terms “childhood” and “innocence” are synonymous in nature. That is why the pain runs so deep for all those of good will when we learn that the innocence of a child has been harmed, and in some cases destroyed, by the experience of childhood abuse. In the Gospel, Jesus says, “Let the little ones come unto me”, and “Woe to him who brings harm to the child”. Recognizing the particular beauty, innocence, and vulnerability of children, Jesus entrusted them to our special care. Therefore, these policies and procedures have been developed to provide prompt and objective investigations of claims of abuse of children and to provide effective pastoral assistance to those who have been harmed.
As a condition of employment, those who serve the Archdiocese of San Francisco are required to follow the Policies and Procedures set forth below.
REPORTING CHILD ABUSE – THE REPORTING LAW #
While everyone should report suspected child abuse and neglect, Article 2.5 of the State of California Penal Code provides that it is a crime for certain individuals who have contact with and supervision of children (e.g., school, parish and agency teachers and administrators, coaches, etc.) not to report suspected abuse to the proper authorities. The following are excerpts and summaries of sections from the State of California Child Abuse Reporting Laws:
… any child care custodian, health practitioner, or employee of a child protective agency who has knowledge of or observes a child in his/her professional capacity or within the scope of his/hef employment whom he/she knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse shall report the known or suspected instance of child abuse to a child protective agency immediately or as soon as practically possible by telephone and shall prepare and send a written report thereof within 36 hours of receiving the information concerning the incident. For the purposes of this article, “reasonable suspicion” means that it is objectively reasonable for a person to entertain such a suspicion, based upon facts that could cause a reasonable person in a like position, drawing when appropriate on his/her training and experience, to suspect abuse.” (Pen. Code, #11166)
Since January 1997, California law requires that clergy join childcare custodians, school personnel, health care practitioners, and other professional groups as mandated reporters of suspected child abuse. The law allows for exemptions from reporting by clergy in limited circumstances called a penitential communication, which is defined as “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”. For Catholic clergy, this limitation, however, is only available when there is a clear religious tradition, supported by the teachings, laws and practices of the Church, that would outweigh the reporting mandate. Clearly, this exemption includes the hearing of a penitent’s confession by a priest or bishop. In cases of confidential communication apart from confession, the duty to protect children by reporting the known or suspected child abuse may, and in some instances should, prevail over the presumption of confidentiality. This would be true where a member of the clergy determines that children are currently at risk of abuse. Should a clergy member have questions about whether he must report in a given instance, he should consult with the person designated by the Diocese to provide advice on and/or coordinate these issues.
- Failure to report by telephone immediately or as soon as practically possible, and then in writing within 36 hours, is a misdemeanor “punishable by confinement in the county jail; for a term not to exceed six months or by a fine of not more than $1000 or both”.
- Those required to report should be aware that mere reporting does not necessarily mean that a civil or criminal proceeding will be initiated against the suspected abuser.
- The written reports that mandated reporters must submit within 36 hours must be on a Department of Justice form.
- The reporting duties (and statutory penalties for failing to report) of a mandated reporter are individual, and cannot be delegated to another individual. Supervisors or administrators may not impede or inhibit reporting by a mandated reporter, nor may they take any actions against the reporter for making a report. However, it is appropriate to establish internal procedures to facilitate reporting and apprise supervisors and administrators of reports so long as these procedures are not inconsistent with the reporting law.
- Mandated reporters of child abuse are immune from civil or criminal liability. C. DEFINITIONS
is defined as a person under the age of 18 years.
includes sexual abuse, non-accidental physical injury, and neglect.
“Child care custodian”
includes school administrators, teachers, instructional aides, teacher aides, teacher assistants or extended care personnel employed by any public or private school. It also means an administrator or employee of a public or private youth center, youth recreation program, or youth organization, as well as administrators or employees of a public or private organization, whose duties require direct contact with, and supervision of, children. The law states that volunteers of such organizations are encouraged to obtain training in the identification and reporting of child abuse. The Archdiocese wholly endorses this principle.
California law defines clergy as “a priest, minister, rabbi, religious practitioner, or similar functionary of a church, temple, or recognized religious denomination or organization”. Roman Catholic tradition and Canonical definition indicate that this definition would include those who have received Holy Orders: a deacon priest or bishop.
includes suspicion based on circumstances that would cause a “reasonable person” in a like position, drawing when appropriate upon his/her training and experience, to suspect child abuse.
MAKING A REPORT #
The mandated reporter must provide his/her name and the following information when making the telephone report of suspected child abuse to the child protective agency:
- Name of child;
- Present location of the child;
- Nature and extent of the injury; and
- Any other information, including that which led the person to suspect child abuse, requested by the child protective agency.
Within 36 hours of making the telephone