REPORT CHILD ABUSE. GEORGIA LAW REQUIRES IT. Georgia law requires that persons with responsibility for a child or children shall report child abuse when there is reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused. Churches all over Georgia and the United States have participated in SAFE SANCTUARIES training. All of us know that making timely and appropriate reports, according to your Safe Sanctuaries policies and the state’s law will save and protect the children in our congregations and communities. You can find the full statute at O.C.G.A.§19-7-5. If you don’t already know the law, then please by all means look it up. Every state has a similar law. Every state allows us to call 911 to report child abuse.
Child abuse happens every minute of every day. In fact, we know that it happens every ten seconds. We have seen some very shocking reports in the past few weeks of child abuse and even children dying. I’ve worked for the prevention of child abuse for many years and the fact that children are dying at the hands of those with responsibility for their care doesn’t surprise me anymore. What still does surprise me, and appall me, is that witnesses who have reasonable cause to know that a child is being harmed, do nothing. Heads are turned, eyes closed, and excuses are made. “Oh, I don’t think it’s really abuse. I’m sure I don’t know the whole story.” The result? The child is injured, the perpetrator is not identified, much less punished, and then the perpetrator is free to hurt the child again.
Georgia law requires child abuse reports to be made within 24 hours of when you have reasonable cause to believe that abuse has or is occurring. You may report by telephone. Simply dial 911 and you’ll be connected to the local police. Your report will be taken and an investigation begins. If you don’t want to call 911, call the police department or the sheriff’s department.
Churches are involved with children and youth all the time. Volunteers, workers, teachers, counselors, and others involved at the church are not excused from making reports. Don’t let yourself believe that someone else will call. Do what is necessary to protect that child in front of you. Call 911. Report to the police. Tell the pastor. Your church is a Safe Sanctuaries church and you know what to do. Make the report. Protect the child.
I’m sure I sound angry. I won’t deny it. In our world, I think it is horrible that children are abused and injured by those who are legally and morally obligated to love and care for them. Right now, I think it is horrible that so many cases are making news in Georgia, North Carolina, and other states, not just because children have been abused but because witnesses knew and failed to report. How can it possibly be reasonable to say that we were aware the child was being starved, or the child was being chained up, or the child was being withheld from school, but we didn’t know what to do??!!
When you have reasonable cause to believe that child abuse has occurred, REPORT IT. CALL 911. In Georgia and every other state, when you make that call, you’ve done a right and good thing. For more information go to www.SafeSanctuariesConsulting.com.