Bill introduced in Kansas to require religious leaders to report child abuse

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 1:52 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Kansas Senator has introduced a bill in the 2023 session that would require those in positions of religious power to report child abuse and neglect.

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, Kansas Senator Tom Holland (D-Baldwin City) introduced Senate Bill 87 to require ordained ministers to report certain abuse and neglect of children.

“Our children are taught to trust in certain authority figures in their communities because adults are supposed to speak up for children when they’ve been harmed,” Senator Holland said. “Far too many of our faith leaders – those who are foundational to the development of our sense of self and spirituality – have violated that trust, and Kansas kids have suffered as a result of their silence.”

The law would require those in a religious position of power to report to law enforcement if they suspect a child has been harmed as a result of physical, mental or emotional abuse, neglect or sexual abuse.

The State of Kansas already requires those in the medical field, therapists and counselors, educators, emergency personnel and not-for-profit volunteers that work with children to report such cases.

Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate in 2022, however, it died in Committee.

“The Kansas Legislature has a duty to protect Kansas children but in past years has failed to act to address this horror,” said Senator Holland.  “Senate Bill 87, if enacted, would give Kansas law enforcement a tool critically needed to hold pedophile ministers and clergy accountable.”

On the final day of his term as Kansas Attorney General, Derek Schmidt released a Kansas Bureau of Investigation report that found more than 400 Kansas children have been abused by Catholic clergy since 1950. The Bureau initiated 125 criminal cases and identified 188 clergy members suspected of crimes including rape, aggravated criminal sodomy and more. No charges have been filed as a result of 30 affidavits under consideration by prosecutors statewide.

On Wednesday, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

To read the full text of the legislation, click HERE.