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Clergy become mandatory child abuse reporters in bill, with big exception

The Washington Senate approved a compromise Wednesday that makes clergy and faith leaders mandatory reporters of child abuse with one big exception.

If the information about the abuse is obtained solely in the context of penitential communication, otherwise known as confession in the Catholic Church, then the clergy member is not required to report it.

The compromise can be seen in Senate Bill 6298’s language that says “a member of the clergy has a duty to warn” state officials or law enforcement that there is “a reasonable cause to believe a child is at imminent risk of being abused or neglected.” (A PDF of the bill can be viewed here.)


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