My sister-in-law, Kelly Stetzer, shares important information about child abuse and what churches need to know.
Ed Stetzer: What is your experience in dealing with child sexual abuse cases?
Kelly Stetzer: I have been a prosecutor in North Carolina for over fourteen years. For over ten of those years, I have prosecuted child sexual and physical abuse cases exclusively. I have worked with hundreds of families who have been affected by child sexual abuse.
Many of the cases in which I have handled or prosecuted have dealt with child sexual abuse that has either occurred or been disclosed in a school or church setting. In this area of law, prosecutors work closely with experts in this field as part of a multi-disciplinary team, which includes law enforcement, social services, child advocacy centers, medical and mental health providers, the school system and many other partner agencies.
ES: Are there legal requirements that mandate the reporting of child abuse?
KS: Yes. These legal requirements are enacted in each State and they do vary between different states. For example, some states specifically mention clergy in the category of those who must report child abuse, while other states exempt clergy from a duty to report child abuse if the information about the abuse was gathered during the course of a privileged communication. For example, the statute in North Carolina requires “any person or institution” to report child abuse to the Department of Social Services if they have “cause to suspect” child abuse. Church leaders should familiarize themselves with the specifics of the reporting law in their particular state. For an overview of each state’s reporting law, visit ChildWelfare.gov.
ES: What should churches know about child sexual abuse in general?
KS: Much research has been conducted in the area of child ...