What Would You Do?

Monday, October 28th, 2019

Imagine this scenario: As a lifelong member of your church, you are also a dedicated volunteer. You pretty much know everyone in your congregation, including Bill, who has also been a member of the church for decades. When a child comes to you and says that Bill did something inappropriate, you are torn. You’ve known him and his wife, Patty, for years. They have three children of their own! But you also know that your state requires anyone working or volunteering with children and youth to report suspected abuse. Do you report the disclosure immediately, or do you wait and see if anyone else comes forward? What do you do?

You report it. First, you are required by law to report this disclosure. It is not your job as a mandatory reporter to determine credibility, testify against Bill, or get involved in any other capacity. Your job is to report the facts as you know them (in this case, you are reporting the disclosure) to the proper agency.

This is not to say it is an easy situation. Your relationship with Bill and his family has been built over years, and like many people, you can’t imagine that someone you know personally would do something like this. Nevertheless, statistically it is rare for a child to lie about abuse. After reporting, it is in the hands of law enforcement. You can feel confident knowing you did the right thing.