Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect - Massachusetts

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The Requirement for Clergy to Report 

Citation: Gen. Laws Ch. 119, § 21

Mandatory reporters include the following:

  • Priests, rabbis, clergy members, ordained or licensed ministers, leaders of any church or religious body, or accredited Christian Science practitioners
  • Persons performing official duties on behalf of a church or religious body that are recognized as the duties of a priest, rabbi, clergy, ordained or licensed minister, leader of any church or religious body, or accredited Christian Science practitioner
  • Persons employed by a church or religious body to supervise, educate, coach, train, or counsel a child on a regular basis

Privileged Communications

Citation: Gen. Laws Ch. 119, § 51A(j) 

Any privilege relating to confidential communications, established by §§ 135 to 135B, inclusive, of chapter 112 (pertaining to social worker-client privilege) or by §§ 20A (clergy-penitent privilege) and 20B (psychotherapist-patient privilege) of chapter 233, shall not prohibit the filing of a report under this section or a care and protection petition under § 24, except that a priest, rabbi, clergy member, ordained or licensed minister, leader of a church or religious body, or accredited Christian Science practitioner need not report information solely gained in a confession or similarly confidential communication in other religious faiths. 

Nothing in the general laws shall modify or limit the duty of a priest, rabbi, clergy member, ordained or licensed minister, leader of a church or religious body, or accredited Christian Science practitioner to report suspected child abuse or neglect under this section when the priest, rabbi, clergy member, ordained or licensed minister, leader of a church or religious body, or accredited Christian Science practitioner is acting in some other capacity that would otherwise make them a mandated reporter.