What Is Child Abuse?
According to the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA), child abuse and neglect is defined as the following: "Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation" or "An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm."
Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse and Neglect.
For the first time in Mennonite Church USA history, we have data regarding the incidence of sexual abuse or violation experienced by church members. According to the 2006 Church Member Profile, Mennonite Church USA church members report experiencing sexual abuse or violation in the following percentages:
|Yes, as a Child||11.9%||3.5%|
|Yes, as a Teen||7.8%||2.0%|
|Yes, as an Adult||4.2%||0.5%|
This means that more than 1 in 5 women in MC USA congregations have experienced sexual abuse or violation, most while they were children or teens. For men, the incidence of abuse experienced before the age of 20 is 5.5%. For society at large, the figures range from 17–25% for women and 3–16% for men, depending on the study and how people define sexual abuse or assault.*
In 2013, 679,000 children were victims of maltreatment in the U.S.; that is 9.1 per 1,000 children. An estimated 6.4 million children received a CPS investigation, meaning they were likely at-risk for abuse or neglect. Children of all ages are abused and neglected. Tragically, young children are disproportionately represented among the victims. In 2013, almost half (47%) of all victims of child abuse were five years old or younger.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau. (2015). http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/research-data-technology/statistics-research/child-maltreatment.
How Do I Report?
Call either Child Protective Services (CPS) or your local police (911).
VIRTUS online offers this site with a link to information on how to report child abuse in each state. For most states, they provide the name of the responsible state agency, the corresponding state statutes, plus agency websites and phone numbers as available.
You could also call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) and they will direct you.
Here is a summary of state laws regarding clergy as mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect.