First Baptist Church, Huntsville, AL
Thursday, November 26, 2015

Reporting Obligations of Abuse

What do I do if I suspect that a preschooler, child, or youth is being abused?

Abusive situations often continue if they go unnoticed and unreported.  All employees and volunteers in ministries involving preschoolers, children, and youth must know what constitutes an occasion for reporting, the reporting channels they should use, and their legal obligations to make a report.

Alabamas child abuse reporting statute (ALA. CODE § 26-14-13) makes it mandatory to report child abuse cases for physicians, nurses, other health care officials, law enforcement officials, school teachers and officials, social workers, day care workers, mental health professionals, members of the clergy and any other person called upon to render aid or medical assistance to any child, when such child is known or suspected to be a victim of child abuse or neglect.  These persons are required by law to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect under a penalty of a misdemeanor fine or sentence.  The Alabama statute grants a privilege to those making such reports.  (ALA. CODE § 26-14-9).

It is the policy of FBC, Huntsville, to encourage immediate reporting of all incidents or suspected incidents of child abuse.  The volunteer or employee making the report shall immediately notify his/her supervisor who shall in turn immediately report orally to the Pastor or other minister of FBC. In consultation with the Pastor and/or Executive Pastor and upon advice from the Legal Committee, a decision will be made as soon as possible as to whether to report the incident or suspected incident to the proper authorities.  If determined to be a suspected incident of child abuse or neglect, the Pastor or Executive Pastor shall immediately report the incident to the appropriate authorities both orally and in writing.  All reasonable steps shall be taken immediately to ensure that the alleged wrongdoer has no further contact with the alleged victim and has no further contact with children or youth in the church pending completion of an investigation.  Nothing in these policies and procedures should be construed as a limitation on a person required by law to report child abuse to fulfill their obligation pursuant to AL Code 26-14-13.