As soon as once more members of the state Legislature are confronted with a dilemma: tips on how to defend kids from abuse and neglect but respect the sacrament of sure non secular faiths.

Final 12 months, a bill sponsored by state Sen. Noel Frame, D-Seattle, that might have made clergy members obligatory reporters of kid abuse and neglect, did not get sufficient help. This 12 months, Body is again together with different lawmakers whose purpose is to guard kids, with Senate Invoice 6298. 

Body’s new bill would make licensed clergy mandated reporters, however contains an exemption for when that data of abuse is discovered throughout non-public non secular confessions, a significant tenet within the Catholic religion. Nonetheless, the invoice carves out an exception to that exemption. Clergy would “have an obligation to warn” regulation enforcement or social companies if there’s cheap perception {that a} little one is in imminent hazard of abuse or neglect, even when that perception is knowledgeable by info obtained “partially on account of a penitential communication,” however corroborated with info obtained outdoors of confession.

Although The Occasions editorial board supported final 12 months’s invoice that provided no such exemption, SB 6298 is an affordable compromise that respects the non secular beliefs and practices of clergy members whereas defending the well being and security of kids. The Washington State Catholic Convention additionally helps the invoice with the exemption.

Baby abuse and neglect can have devastating results on survivors, even into maturity. 

For many years dad and mom have drilled into their kids the distinction between acceptable and inappropriate touching, and to report conditions the place they could really feel uncomfortable. Oftentimes conflicts come up when the abuser is the father or mother, trainer or coach or some other trusted grownup, similar to a clergy member.

“Children must know that in the event that they ask a trusted grownup like a religion chief for assist, they’ll get assist,” stated Body, herself a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. “Necessary reporters play an important function in defending kids, and lengthening this accountability to the clergy who’re so essential in our lives as mentors and neighborhood leaders is the correct factor to do.”

Pastors, preachers and monks, who say they worth the life of a kid, certainly have a accountability to follow what they preach. That’s a selection for every clergyperson to make.

State lawmakers have a option to make, too. A vote for SB 6298 is a vote for the protection and welfare of Washington’s kids.


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