April 13, 2019 // Diocese

Diocesan policy on reporting incidents of child abuse or neglect

FORT WAYNE — The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend shares the conviction of Indiana legal authorities, all concerned adults and the Church that every effort should and must be made to report child abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities. Incidents of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect of children, unfortunately, occur with regularity throughout our society.

Very often the victims of this abuse are too young to relate to others the fact of occurrence or are too frightened or ashamed to reveal the identities of those responsible for the abuse or neglect. Therefore, only when concerned individuals report those facts that give them reason to believe an incident of child abuse or neglect has occurred can this distressing problem be brought forward for legal redress as well as psychological assistance and spiritual rehabilitation. This diocesan policy on reporting child abuse or neglect is intended to promote awareness of the laws of the State of Indiana already in effect for all, and thus enhance pastoral awareness of, and response to, this grave problem.

Indiana law requires that all persons, without exception, make an immediate oral report to a local law enforcement agency or Department of Child Services if that person has “reason to believe” that a child may be a victim of child abuse or neglect (unless that person knows a report of the incident has already been made). The obligation to report exists regardless of who the accused may be. This duty applies to all diocesan personnel:

• All priests, deacons, candidates for ordination and the religious life, and other religious personnel,

• All school and parish personnel, paid and volunteer (including counselors)

• All other employees and volunteers of the diocese or any of its affiliated organizations.

The diocese expects and requires that all its priests, deacons, candidates for ordination and the religious life, paid personnel (lay and religious) and volunteers, especially those who work in diocesan programs that are directly and immediately involved with children, recognize and report child abuse and neglect in accordance with Indiana law. The diocese expects and requires that the report be made regardless of when the suspected abuse or neglect is claimed to have occurred.

Where a person suspects that a child may be a victim of abuse or neglect but is unsure whether he or she has sufficient “reason to believe” to make a report, that person should always err on the side of caution and report. The key is to report rather than not report.

For the full policy, see: 

https://bit.ly/2VlVkpD (English)

https://bit.ly/2OPx1he (Spanish)

For more information and resources, visit www.d2l.org.

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