Committee: Senate Judicial Proceedings
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 568, Establishing that certain persons who are required to provide certain notice or make certain reports of suspected child abuse or neglect may not knowingly fail to provide the notice or make the report and establishing a misdemeanor and penalties for knowingly failing to report child abuse or neglect.
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 486 is consistent with these procedures and would enhance the ability of our schools to protect the children entrusted to our care.
While most child-serving institutions likely observe similar procedures, SB 568 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.
We respectfully urge a favorable report on Senate Bill 568.