Christians and the struggle to report child abuse
By Boz Tchividjian
February 07, 2014
I recently came across a legal alert from a Christian organization that directs pastors who learn of suspected child abuse to first conduct their own internal investigation “to decide whether the situation requires reporting to the authorities.” Yikes!
As I work with churches and other Christian institutions, I often encounter professing Christians who struggle with whether they should first report suspected child abuse to the civil authorities. As above, they are often directed to report abuse suspicions to leadership who then decide whether or not to involve the authorities. Double yikes!!
A church elder once told me that if he received a disclosure of child sexual abuse, his first response would be to interview the alleged victim. His rationale was that he wanted to “be sure that the allegations are legitimate before reporting to the police and ruining the man’s reputation”. When asked what training he had to conduct a child forensic interview, the man was silent. When asked whether he wanted the responsibility to determine the validity of a very serious felony, he started to shrink back in his chair. I then asked whether he was prepared to violate mandated reporting laws. Fortunately, the elder got my point, changed his opinion, and acknowledged his need to learn more about child sexual abuse. An issue often at the heart of this critical struggle is whether the Church is obligated to subject itself to the laws of man when it believes that it is capable to address the sin “in-house”.
Read the whole story here.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.