HB 787— Crimes- Child Abuse and Neglect – Failure to Report

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 787, which makes it a misdemeanor for health care practitioners, police officers, educators, and human service workers who are acting in a professional capacity to knowingly fail to provide a required notice or make a required report of suspected child abuse or neglect if the worker has knowledge of the abuse or neglect, and establishes penalties.

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 787 is consistent with these procedures and would reiterate to our employees the priority of protecting the children entrusted to our care.

House Bill 787 will help to ensure that all members of professions required to report suspected child abuse 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 787.