We all have a duty to protect children from abuse. Failure to report child abuse amounts to complicity and allows the abuse to continue. All state statutes identify specific people who interact regularly with children who are required by law to report abuse. States exempting clergy from this list should remove this dangerous loophole that allows abuse to continue unseen and unheard.

While the confidentiality of pastoral communications is important, it is not absolute. Due to the uniquely vulnerable position of children and the recent history of abuse of this pastoral privilege, all clergy in all 50 states and the District of Columbia should be required by law to report child abuse and neglect. Here’s the current state by state breakdown for mandatory child abuse reporting laws:

  • In 23 states and the District of Columbia, the law is unclear or absent in relation to whether clergy are mandated to report child abuse and maltreatment.
  • In 18 states, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report it.
  • In 27 states, members of the clergy are among the professionals specifically mandated by law to report known or suspected instances of child abuse or neglect.
  • In 8 states and the District of Columbia clergy are not required to report known or suspected instances of child abuse or neglect.

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