HB 1069 — Child Abuse and Neglect – Required Reporting

Committee: House Judiciary

Position: Support

The Maryland Catholic Conference represents the mutual public policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses with territory in the state of Maryland, including the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington. We submit this testimony in SUPPORT of House Bill 1069, which adds ministers of the gospel, clergymen, and priests of an established church of any denomination to the list of workers who must provide notice or make a written report of suspected child abuse and neglect while acting in a professional capacity.

All Catholic parishes, diocesan schools, and youth programs observe stringent child protection measures beyond what is required by the State. Our institutions conduct mandatory criminal background checks on all employees and on volunteers who work with children, provide comprehensive awareness training to educate adults and children on how to recognize predatory behaviors, and promptly report all suspected incidents of child sexual abuse. House Bill 1069 is consistent with these procedures and would reiterate to our employees the priority of protecting the children entrusted to our care.

House Bill 1069 will broaden the professions required to report suspected child abuse and ensures that they will be prompt and diligent in their responsibility. Early reporting of child abuse is critical to the safety of victims, not only those involved in current investigations, but also for those who might be potentially abused by an undiscovered perpetrator.

The Catholic Church in Maryland will continue to be fully supportive of any efforts by the General Assembly to better safeguard and protect the children of Maryland.

We respectfully urge a favorable report on House Bill 1069.