Dove's Nest: Faith Communities Keeping Children & Youth Safe

Protecting the Least of These: Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse

By Katherine Burkey Wiens

Recently, I visited with a pastor who needed counsel about how to handle a situation of possible abuse. The pastor’s struggle was whether they should make a report to the state or simply talk with the family about what had happened. Adding to the complexity, clergy are not mandated reporters in the pastor’s state, therefore they are not required by law to report suspected child abuse. The question I posed to this pastor was “Who are you trying to protect in this situation?” 

 What are church leaders to do when they suspect a child may be in danger? Some church leaders may seek direction from Scripture. Matthew 18 has a lot to say about how we care for and value children. Verse 5 states, “And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Verse 6 says, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Finally, Matthew 18:10 says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” 

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Dove's Nest's mission is to empower and equip faith communities to keep children and youth safe in their homes, churches, and communities. "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children"  (Luke 18:16 NLT).