Friday, July 22, 2011

Agudah Clarification on Reporting Abuse

The Agudah has put out a statement clarifying its position on reporting abuse to the authorities. Read it in full please.

Personally, it is extremely non-compelling and somewhat distressing. The Agudah is saying that one should report abuse if they are reasonably sure, but not in a case of mere suspicion, and instead talk it over with someone. However, because people are not experts in what would qualify as knowledge/assurance vs. what would qualify as a mere suspicion, they should first discuss that with a Rabbi knowledgeable in the matter.

That essentially boils down to saying that a person should talk it over with a Rav regardless of what they think, to make sure that they are making the right call in reporting to the authorities. That seems to be a huge error, as this again means it is solely up to the Rav involved to determine if the authorities should be contacted, which was exactly the problem previously. This comes off more as a protective clarification where the Agudah is saying "of course abuse must be reported", but in practice it will come down to the personal discretion of the Rabbonim who are asked.

It is also disingenuous for the Agudah to claim that telling all people to report to the authorities is 'further than the law', which only requires mandated reporters; the law certainly feels everyone should report abuse as well, but adds an additional level to mandated reporters that by law they are required to do so or they can face punishment for failing to.