How to Report Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect
ALL clergy and many of our staff are required by Missouri Law to report suspicions of abuse or neglect to the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS)-Children’s Division. Regardless of the legal requirement, all of our clergy, employees and volunteers are encouraged to report suspicions of abuse or neglect both to the Children’s Division Child Abuse Hotline and their local law enforcement agency as our moral obligation to protect children.
What is abuse?
Abuse is defined by Missouri law as “any physical injury, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse inflicted on a child other than by accidental means by those responsible for the child's care, custody, and control, except that discipline including spanking, administered in a reasonable manner, shall not be construed to be abuse.” The Diocese also considers possession, manufacture or distribution of child pornography to be sexual abuse.
What is neglect?
Neglect is defined by Missouri law as “the failure to provide, by those responsible for the care, custody, and control of the child, the proper or necessary support, education as required by law, nutrition or medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for the child's well-being.”
Steps when you suspect abuse and/or neglect
Within 24 hours:
- You must make or ensure that a report is made to the Missouri Child Abuse Hotline at 1.800.392.3738; and
- You should also report the suspected abuse to your local law enforcement agency; and
- If you work at a school or a daycare/preschool facility, you should also report the suspected abuse to the person in charge. If you are the person in charge, you should report the suspected abuse to your supervisor (i.e., Superintendent of Schools, Vicar General, Pastor, etc.)
- The suspected abuse is sexual and involves or involved a minor, and
- The suspected abuser is or was an employee, clergy or volunteer in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, then
- You should also report the suspected abuse to the Diocese Ombudsman, Jenifer Valenti, at 816.812.2500 or JeniferValenti@att.net.
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