Mandated reporters

Mandated reporters

A few days ago I mentioned that the Archdiocese of Boston is implementing a sex abuse program for pre-Kindergarten on up. This program will not allow any kid in parochial schools or religious education to opt out. Yet it contains values and teachings that are at odds with the Church’s teachings and values.

I also learned recently that there is a mandatory training program for adult church volunteers. Anyone involved in any ministry in the Church—whether you’re a religious ed teacher or lector or usher—must take this course. A little know fact is that the recent changes in Massachusetts law that expanded the list of mandated reporters (people required to report any sign of abuse to police) to include clergy uses a very loose definition of “clergy.” I have been told by those who have gone through the program that it includes anyone, volunteer or paid, lay or ordained, involved in any ministry in the Church. And I’m pretty sure that when you’re mandated, you’re mandated even when you’re off property.

In other words, if you’re a lector at your parish, and the guy who lives next door to you is arrested for molesting kids, and the cops show up to ask you why you didn’t tell anyone that kids were going in an out of there all the time, you could be held criminally negligent. And civilly liable. You could be sued and/or go to jail! All because you wanted to read the Word of God at Mass. Or bring the Eucharist to the sick. Or belong to the Altar Guild.

I can’t think of anything more likely to drive people away from service in the Church. Satan sure is a tricky bastard, isn’t he?

  • No Joe, you’re obviously not reading me correctly. I know that the training for adults is different from the training for children. I’m not talking about the program you refer to, except that is where you learn that you are a mandated reporter.

    We have become mandated reporters by state law, not by the archdiocese’s order.

  • Don’t tell anybody you don’t trust, but…

    You can avoid this by:

    A.) ignoring any archdiocesan “training” programs AT ALL (an easy thing to do at my parish since you have to pay for them and most of us are cheapskates). Since my parish paid for it, I once went to one for lectors…what a joke. While the whole point was to let us know that we are delivering “Jesus, in the Word of God,” the thing was held in a suburban (I don’t want to mention any parish by name, but the church was in Newton, Massachusetts) chapel, where participants gayly held forth, drinking coffee, apparently not noticing that they were in the Real Presence of Christ. I’m not making this up. The whole chattering throng was filled with folks lounging around, ignoring the lighted Tabernacle.

    B.) using your lack o’ training via the archdiocese to avoid volunteering for any “ministry” in your parish (an easy thing to do at my parish since we’re mostly interested in worshipping and not parading around doing useless “ministry aka “work”)

    C.) ignoring the entire “mandate” when pressed into stuff you really outta do. This, I have found, is the very best course of action, except for…

    D.) telling the devil to go to Hell.

    Note no smiley faces here. This “mandate” was photocopied and “distributed” (read: it was on the usher’s table along with all the other free stuff…take it or leave it) months ago and nobody I know of has actually taken any “seminars.” Smart choice.

    And by gum, we’re still lectoring, ushering (read: taking other people’s money and making sure they don’t trip leaving their pews) and, goodness gracious, prepping kids for the sacraments.

    In the immortal words of the rector of my parish: “screw.” (Don’t quote him, he’ll be ticked off.)

    Kelly <———whose motto is, make the “mistake” first and “apologize” after, if necessary…in other words, Dom o’ mine—don’t worry about it.

  • A poorly worded law as this seems to be from the accounts here, can be forced to change by strictly following it by the letter and reporting EVERYthing that one believes is an offense by the letter of the law. A few hundred open cases over things like “M so and so was looking in the direction of the child for a few minutes, I am not sure of their focus, but I don’t want to be held liable so I am reporting it. Or the child and M. So and so had bodily contact as the child was running down the bus aisle.  So and so hugged the child after the child fell. I want to report this as it violates the letter of the law and I do not want to be held liable.  If enough people did this it would force a well-worded, reasonable and practical law that serves its intended purpose (identifying real sex offenders). The problem is that with poorly worded laws everyone wants to assume in good faith that common sense will prevail. Sadly, the letter of the law will prevail if the right lawyer with enough money to win or anti-catholic with an ax to grind forces the system to uphold the letter.  The worst thing is that the law then becomes a joke and its original intent is lost. 

  • Virtus will now also be bringing their program into the religious ed classes for kindergarten through 10 grades with a program called Touching Safety.  This program has just finished its development stage and will be in many dioceses as early as fall 2004.  Check out the site for a small run down on this new part of the program.