As formation ministers we typically are brought into situations where youth may disclose some form of maltreatment or we may come into relationship with the youth and suspect that abuse or neglect is going on.
What are signs of abuse? Signs of abuse include Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, and neglect. See these outlined here https://ar.mandatedreporter.org/public/pdf/en/Signs-of-Child-Abuse-Neglect.pdf
If we do suspect any of this, then we must report this information to the proper authorities. Not only is it ethically the right thing to do, but in the state of Arkansas and most states it is legally something we must do under Mandated reporter statutes. These laws are created to discover child maltreatment as early as possible and bring the child into a safer situation.
There are two different lines of the Arkansas Child Maltreatment Act act that we fall under;
(40) An individual not otherwise identified in this subsection who is engaged in performing his or her employment duties with a nonprofit charitable organization other than a nonprofit hospital. A.C.A. § 12-18-402
As I read the statute regarding clergy lay ministers and volunteers fall under the 2nd half of that line.
(29) A clergy member, which includes a minister, priest, rabbi, accredited Christian Science practitioner, or other similar functionary of a religious organization, or an individual reasonably believed to be so by the person consulting him or her, A.C.A. § 12-18-402
What does this mean for you and your church if in Arkansas?
You are a mandated reporter. It is your legal obligation to report your suspicions to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline. It is not your role to investigate what the child has told you.
How do I report?
It is always important to let your supervising clergy or leader about the situation but you will fulfill your legal obligation as a Mandated Reporter when you call the DCFS Hotline:
or fax1-501-618-8952 fax*
If the report is a criminal matter, and if the information does not meet Child Maltreatment requirements, the Hotline will forward the report to Law Enforcement.
For more questions about this contact Randall Curtis in the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas office at email@example.com
You can also find a thorough free training site provided by the State of Arkansas at https://ar.mandatedreporter.org/.