Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect - Tennessee

Date: April 2019

The Requirement for Clergy to Report 

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 37-1-403(a); 37-1-605(a)

Any person who has knowledge of or is called upon to render aid to any child who is suffering from or has sustained any wound, injury, disability, or physical or mental condition shall report such harm immediately if the harm is of such a nature as to reasonably indicate that it has been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect or that, on the basis of available information, reasonably appears to have been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect.

Privileged Communications

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 24-1-206; 37-1-614

No minister of the gospel, priest of the Catholic Church, rector of the Episcopal Church, ordained rabbi, or regular minister of religion of any religious organization or denomination usually referred to as a church shall be allowed or required while giving testimony as a witness in any litigation to disclose any information communicated to that person in a confidential manner if the following apply:

  • The information was properly entrusted to that person in that person's professional capacity.
  • Confidentiality is necessary to enable that person to discharge the functions of such office according to the usual course of that person's practice or discipline.
  • The person communicating such information about themself or another person is seeking spiritual counsel and advice relative to and growing out of the information so imparted.

The privileged quality of communication between spouses and between any professional person and the professional person's patient or client, and any other privileged communication, except that between attorney and client, as such communication relates both to the competency of the witness and to the exclusion of confidential communications, shall not apply to any situation involving known or suspected child sexual abuse and shall not constitute grounds for failure to report as required by this part, failure to cooperate with the Department of Children's Services in its activities pursuant to this part, or failure to give evidence in any judicial proceeding relating to child sexual abuse.