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ACT NO. 43


Mandatory Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect

This act adds members of the clergy to the list of mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect. In addition to the $500.00 penalty for failure to report, a penalty of six months’ imprisonment or a fine of $1,000.00, or both, is created for failure to report with the intent of concealing the abuse or neglect of a child.

A member of the clergy is not required to make a report if the report would be based upon information received in a communication which is:

(1) made to a member of the clergy acting in his or her capacity as spiritual advisor;

(2) intended by the parties to be confidential at the time the communication is made;

(3) intended by the communicant to be an act of contrition or a matter of conscience; and

(4) required to be confidential by religious law, doctrine, or tenet.

The act directs the department of social and rehabilitation services (SRS) to develop model protocols and a comprehensive and uniform program of information, education, and training for mandatory reporters. The program shall include elements designed for use in organizations whose staff includes some personnel who are mandatory reporters and others who are not. On or before January 15, 2004, SRS shall report to the general assembly on the protocols and programs developed pursuant to the act. The report shall include a proposal for implementation of an improved statewide training program to effectively and frequently reach all mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect.

Effective Date: From passage, May 27, 2003.