A free seminar on how to recognize and report suspected child abuse is planned for Wednesday in LaGrange.
The seminar is being sponsored by the Troup Baptist Association but is open to churches of all denominations.
“Now even a minister is required to report suspected child abuse,” said Aaron McCollough, associational missionary.
The clergy formerly were not required to report such incidents, similar to information protected under doctor-patient privilege or attorney-client privilege.
On July 1, new laws took effect in Georgia that change who is a “mandated reporter” in Georgia. A mandated reporter means, a person who, by law, must report suspected child abuse to police or child services.
“The new laws are aimed at volunteer organizations, such as churches, and making the volunteers that staff these organizations mandated reporters,” McCollough said.
The seminar is at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Rosemont Baptist Church. Ray Newman, Georgia Baptist Convention’s moral and civic concerns specialist and president of GCAP (Georgia Citizens Action Project) will lead this seminar.
“Every pastor, children’s director, youth director, and any volunteer who works with children in any church needs to attend this seminar,” McCollough said. “This is not a Baptist thing.”
The seminar will go over what the law requires and how to recognize suspected abuse.
“The bottom line is we need to be aware of and in compliance with these new laws,” McCollough said. “The protection of our children is paramount. Unfortunately, this is not the same day we grew up in.”