Clergy mandated to report child abuse

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas has signed a bill into law that adds members of the clergy to the state’s list of mandatory reporters of child abuse. The bill does exempt information gathered in a confessional.

The clergy now join health care professionals, teachers, day care workers and camp counselors as groups who must report suspicions of child abuse to Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. Douglas says Vermont is the thirty-sixth state to take this action:

(Douglas) “Our children are our most important resource. We must do everything in our power to protect them. So I’m pleased to be able to sign this very important legislation into law today.”

(Host) Attorney General Bill Sorrell sought information from the Catholic Church following allegations of child sexual abuse against several priests. Sorrell says the law should help protect children in the future:

(Sorrell) “This is an important bill. I have no question that if this was the law of this state 20 years ago there are a number of children in Vermont who would not have suffered trauma and heart ache at the hands of various religious personnel.”

(Host) The new law also calls for a uniform education and training program for all professions that fall under the mandatory reporting provisions of the state.

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