Child Abuse Prevention and Reporting

Title: Child Abuse Prevention and Reporting
Category: Church Policy Issues
Subject: Child Abuse
Child Abuse Prevention and Reporting

This information did not come from the Editor, but rather the Editor serves as a contact person. The information was provided by the office of Keith Hamilton with the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Each new worker should be given the legal definition of child abuse in writing, as well as the policy of the church on the reporting of child abuse. New workers should also be required to view child abuse prevention video(s) and read the written materials available on this subject to help them gain an appreciation for the reality of the concern. This should help workers identify child abuse in the future if they see signs of it.

Worker Supervision

1. The ministry should adopt the "two adult" rule, which requires a reasonable number of adult workers to be maintained in each situation involving the supervision of the children, but with a minimum of two workers at all times.
2. The staff should supervise on an ongoing basis and make unannounced visits into classes or other program sites from time to time.
3. An identification system should be adopted so that the adults who drop off a child are the same adults who pick up the child, to reduce the possibility of kidnapping.
4. In counseling sessions with minors, parental permission should be obtained prior to a worker meeting privately with a minor, or the two adult rule should be used even in that instance.

Child Abuse Prevention Reporting Policy

Any person having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect shall report the person's belief in accordance with this procedure. Nonaccusatory reports (reports that identify the victim of abuse or neglect whether or not the person responsible for the abuse or neglect is known) shall be made to one of the following:

Local Law Enforcement Agency and the Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS)

The report shall be made as follows:

1. An oral report shall be made immediately on learning of the abuse or neglect.
2. If requested, a written report shall be made within five (5) days to the same agencies or departments.
3. All reports must contain the name and address of the child, the name and address of the person responsible for the care of the child, if available, and any other pertinent information.

At the time you first learn of an instance of suspected abuse or neglect, you must advise the ministry leadership of the same information you are required to report to authorities in the above paragraph. This is to ensure that proper steps will be taken by the ministry.

Reporting Guidelines

The ministry should have an express provision in its policy for the reporting of instances of suspected child abuse by anyone in the ministry, including all workers. All workers should be made to be familiar with the reporting procedure. The child abuse reporting statute in the state of Georgia may require the reporting of suspected instances of child abuse to governmental agencies.

1. Fully comply with the child abuse reporting statute.
2. Upon the first suspicion of an instance of child abuse, the following steps should be taken immediately:

a. Do not treat any suspicion as frivolous.
b. Commence the investigation immediately, and conclude it as soon as possible.
c. Maintain confidentiality of the investigation as much as possible. Emphasize confidentiality of the victim and any accused.
d. Cooperate fully with law enforcement officials.
e. Suspend any accused from the performance of duties involving children until the investigation has been completed.
f. Inform the victim and the victim's family of the steps that are being taken, and continue to keep them advised of the status of the investigation. If the child abuse is confirmed, ask the victim and the victim''s family what action they would like to take in the matter, and fully cooperate to address their request within the bounds of a legal and prudent response (church legal counsel should assist in this determination).
g. In instances where child abuse is confirmed, the ministry should immediately dismiss the worker from that position. Consideration of member termination should be considered, as appropriate in the circumstances.
h. In instances where the evidence is inconclusive, the ministry must take action depending on the strength of the evidence available and after consideration of the victim's and the victim's family's request.
i. Keep the leadership informed of the investigation with respect to matters which are not confidential, so that the leadership will hear about the investigation from within the ministry rather than from the news media.

If you would like additional information about Church Financial Services, please contact the Georgia Baptist Convention at or 1-800-746-4422. This document is intended to provide churches, pastors, and staff with current and accurate information about the subjects covered. However, such information is not intended to be sufficient for dealing with a particular legal problem, and the authors and distributors do not warrant or represent its suitability for such purpose. The reader should not rely upon this document as a substitute for independent legal consultation.