Hawaii Confession Mandatory Reporting
Title: Child abuse bill advances
Author: John Burnett
Publisher: Hawaii Tribune-Herald
The state Senate Committee on Human Services on Tuesday recommended passage, with amendments, of a House measure that would require the clergy, commercial film and print image processors, and commercial computer technicians to report suspected child abuse and neglect.
House Bill 1942 was introduced by Rep. Linda Ichiyama, an Oahu Democrat. The measure notes the state’s Child Welfare Services received 3,702 reports of child abuse and that half were made by people required to report it.
It also points out Hawaii “is one of only a handful of states that do not include members of the clergy as mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect.”
The version of the bill presented to the committee by Puna Sen. Russell Ruderman, the committee chairman, was one proposed by the state Department of Human Services that removed a provision that would exempt clergy from reporting information about suspected abuse acquired during confessions.
The vote was 3-2, with Ruderman and Vice Chairman Karl Rhoads voting aye, and Sen. Les Ihara voting aye with reservations. Sens. Kurt Fevella and Gil Riviere voted nay.
“I believe the top concern here is protecting children from abuse. I realize there are competing concerns,” said Ruderman, who chaired the meeting on Zoom from his Puna home while the others were at the state Capitol in Honolulu. “… There are many who are concerned with protecting our clergy and the religious processes, and I share that concern, but that concern does not rise to the point of hiding child abuse.”
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