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Should clergy report child abuse revealed in confession?

Also teachers, doctors, psychiatrists and other professionals?

A_man_called_CHIOG  Male  South East London 8-Nov-2019 17:33 Message #4761894
Is it too serious to keep quiet?
Orson  Male  Tayside 8-Nov-2019 18:13 Message #4761901
That's a lot people for a confined space.
wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 8-Nov-2019 18:47 Message #4761905
I think medical staff, teachers and the like have to report it if they see evidence of abuse, but I think thats not what you meant, I think you meant if they hear about it from an abuser? I think thats a much more difficult question, on the face of it of course they should, but what if it puts someone off getting help for what they recognise is a problem? Hopefully whichever professional became aware of it would be able to persuade the person to give themselves up if they're really remorseful, but I do fear that some would see it as a place to park their guilt whilst never really dealing with it. It would be a horrible position to be in as a professional, you're sort of damned if you do and dammed if you don't, if a person tells you somethiing as their GP or solicitor or priest, then you have a professional duty of confidentiality, you become the place to park guilt or maybe you're being taunted by your own powerlessness to act? I'm sure many such professionals will make it known in an anonymous fashion so as police action can be taken, but some will choose to live with keeping the confidence and torture themselves over it.
JustLyn  Female  Cheshire 8-Nov-2019 19:06 Message #4761906
No confidentiality when it comes to abuse. The "confidant" has to inform the person that anything they say that amounts to abuse will be reported if to do with a minor.

If the abused is an adult, then before reporting it, the abused has to give consent as you need consent to investigate it.

At work I have the phone number for perpetrators to get help as well.
Nigel_In_Devon  Male  Devon 8-Nov-2019 19:27 Message #4761910
As a teacher, I cannot promise a student that I will keep anything they tell me to myself and that I may have to report it to the appropriate Head of House.
terry  Male  West Yorkshire 8-Nov-2019 20:43 Message #4761917
It is a really difficult question, and as has been said, it's one of those where the 'confidant' is damned whether they do or damned whether they don't. And yes, people do torture themselves, when such information is passed to them.

My personal opinion is if you agree to keep a confidence, you should keep it, though I accept many would disagree in such cases.
JustLyn  Female  Cheshire 8-Nov-2019 21:22 Message #4761924

I don't think it's a choice if you are nurse or teacher etc. It's part of the training and obligation. You'd be struck off if found to not have reported it. You only have to see the consequence of Jimmy Saville.
HotOrWot  Male  Lancashire 8-Nov-2019 22:06 Message #4761930
If you were in a position of trust and had promised not to betray a confidence when you believe doing so could do more harm than good. Personal belief or not wanting to betray another could often outweigh fear of losing a job.
terry  Male  West Yorkshire 8-Nov-2019 22:40 Message #4761934
Yes JustLyn, I accept that and am aware people in a professional capacity have as you've described no real choice in the matter.
Declan  Male  Cheshire 9-Nov-2019 00:55 Message #4761941
I don't think it is a difficult question - it is a clear yes.

Confidentiality cannot take priority to disclosure.
tumbleweed  Male  Gloucestershire 9-Nov-2019 06:37 Message #4761944
Not being a Religious nutjob, I've never understood how these confession things are meant to work...

So, the way I see it, you commit a sin....and then go to confession....and the Priest listens...and then forgives you...and tells you to say 10 hairy Mary's...and then everything is ok again....and you go off sin again....and then repeat the process...

You'd have to be an extra large nutjob to commit any really bad sins anyway, but a Giant nutjob to then go and tell the priest....'Father I have sinned...I've just robbed the bank...murdered a few people....raped a few....and then dropped some litter on the way home'........oh that's ok, but make it 20 hairy Mary's this time....
AQuietLife  Male  North Yorkshire 9-Nov-2019 07:03 Message #4761946
I believe the religious confession is to God not to the priest and is more about repentance than making confessions.
I’m not religious either but take a passing interest. .
JustLyn  Female  Cheshire 9-Nov-2019 07:18 Message #4761949

It isn't to do with fear of losing a job, though other factors can to the stress of doing the right thing if one does not get support.

Your comment about your personal belief feeling able to judge which is more harm than good should not is not counted when undergone professional training to know the consequences in people's lives of not doing the right thing.

To feel one is above what is advocated after things like the "ME TOO" campaign re treatment of women, abuse, the
horrific background of non disclosure resulting in the murder of Victoria Climbié and then Baby P, means it would be very arrogant to think that personal choice in disclosure is an option.
AQuietLife  Male  North Yorkshire 9-Nov-2019 07:26 Message #4761955
Professionals are just like everyone else with human feelings and will be just as likely to make decisions which are their own. Professional training may show them what they should do but not necessarily affect what they actually do.

Nigel_In_Devon  Male  Devon 9-Nov-2019 10:18 Message #4761980
HoW..."If you were in a position of trust and had promised not to betray a confidence when you believe doing so could do more harm than good. Personal belief or not wanting to betray another could often outweigh fear of losing a job."

But the key thing is that you don't make such promises in the first place. You warn them that you may have to share this with someone higher up the pastoral ladder.
wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 9-Nov-2019 11:16 Message #4761991
You also have the problem as a professional of what do you do when you become aware of something with serious learning difficulties for example who hasn't the capacity to understand that they're being abusive? Its an uncomfortable area to deal with, someone with the body of an adult with all an adults urges, needs etc, but with the emotional understanding of a small child. Its one a collegue had to deal with and it ended up putting her and several of her female co-workers in danger, although we knew what this person was potentially capable of, he'd not done anything, what do you do in that situation? You can't lock them up for a crime they may commit, they don't come under the mental health act for detention and that something thats been used to often in the past to deal with people society finds uncomfortable.
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire 9-Nov-2019 11:23 Message #4761994
Surely the "damned if you do or don't" thing also applies to the perpetrator. If they don't seek treatment, their offending is likely to continue. And if they do seek treatment, then they will most likely go to prison, on the basis that you cannot treat without full disclosure.

I think the Jimmy Saville situation is slightly different. He used his celebrity status and being a jolly good chap on the face of it as a cover and consequently anyone who complained were not believed. Plus, you have to take into account the social climate when most of it happened. It was at a time when that kind of thing was still swept under the carpet, like anything else that was considered socially distasteful. And, even if people did make a complaint, there was very little in the way of due process to ensure that concerns were acted upon.
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire 9-Nov-2019 11:28 Message #4761995
In that situation, I would think that safeguards need to be put in place, wh. Not specifically relating to the young person in particular, but the working environment should make sure that there are clear protocols in place to protect workers in a potentially vulnerable situation. Those kind of processes are either in place, or should be, right across all industries. It is part of workplace risk assessment.
wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 9-Nov-2019 17:49 Message #4762012
Protocols swung into action the momment the problem was identified, trouble is though they only protect you in the work place and not if you happen see the person in the street.
Colonel_Blink  Male  Buckinghamshire 9-Nov-2019 23:35 Message #4762043
Each case would be different and would have to be judged individually. If I was in a position of trust and as such was told a secret by a person who placed their trust, maybe their life, in my hands then it would be a very serious consideration whatever I decided. My decision would definitely not be made due to common law or professional rules.
Using murder as an example.
If I was told of a murder which the person had committed 20 years ago and had lived a law abiding life since then would probably keep the secret.
If I was told of a murder committed a short time ago then I would be torn.
If I was told of a couple of murders and that they felt they would commit more murders then I wouldn’t hesitate to involve the authorities.

I’m not in that position so I’m only guessing how I would react.
HotOrWot  Male  Lancashire 10-Nov-2019 18:53 Message #4762098
Good post Colonel.
MrQuiet  Male  Northamptonshire 11-Nov-2019 07:39 Message #4762121
It’s usually easy to give advice or say how you would react in hypothetical situations. It’s much different when you have to make a personal decision of significant importance.

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