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Reporting Child Abuse in Obscure Contexts

sad-child-park-benchIf your organization is in the United States or other countries with well-established child abuse reporting laws, then reporting is simple. If the alleged abuse happened in a country where reporting protocol is not established—or you have a multijurisdictional nightmare—or abuse that is historic—it may not be clear whether and how to report.

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Practical Ways for Your Church to Respond to an Allegation of Child Abuse

church buildingOne of the hardest things your church may ever deal with is an allegation of child sexual abuse. These allegations create responsibilities for reporting to law enforcement, for ministering to people who are hurt, evaluating child safety procedures that are in place, interacting with media, dealing with offenders, considering legal issues, and other tough challenges.

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Initial Concerns in Setting up an Investigation

InvestigatorA good investigation requires many complex skills that include managing the investigation, doing interviews, and making credibility determinations. A credibility determination requires the investigative team to analyze the facts and decide the truth of the matter, sometimes with conflicting evidence. The investigation must be done skillfully and must consider legal issues.

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Part 6: What Reports or Observations Trigger an Investigation

investigationsIn our hypothetical, Tom and Sally reached out and made allegations to the mission leader. It seems fairly obvious this should have triggered an investigation. But we probably want to spend more time thinking about how investigations get started. When should you investigate? A number of situations may call for an investigation. 

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Goals of Therapy Versus Goals of Investigation

Therapeutic processes and legal processes are different. Certain things are appropriate in the therapeutic process that are not acceptable in a legal process. Absolute factual accuracy is not the primary goal of therapy. In the world of an investigation, with livelihood and organizational survival on the line, impartial factual accuracy is very important.  

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