The clarifications provided by Agudath Israel of America and the Rabbinical Council of America regarding their positions on reporting suspected child abuse (“Groups clarify positions on reporting child abuse,” July 28) confuse the issue, endanger children, and may contradict New Jersey’s reporting laws.
In New Jersey, all residents are legally obligated to report suspected child abuse by calling 877-NJ-ABUSE (877-652-2873). Agudath Israel includes a “threshold of evidence” which must be met before a report is made. The Rabbinical Council advises its members to consult with “lay and rabbinic experts” when the facts are “uncertain.” In New Jersey, the Division of Youth and Family Services is considered the expert authority on child abuse. The state’s reporting laws make no mention of “thresholds of evidence” or consulting with “experts.” In fact, the law clearly states that only a reasonable suspicion of abuse triggers our legal responsibility to report.
We keep children safe by following this law rather than by consulting with individuals who probably do not have a specialized knowledge of child abuse. Following this law is especially important for families who live in insular communities where authority is exercised primarily by men because the best interests of children are frequently ignored to protect the community.
Hudson County Child Abuse Prevention Center