The Maryland Catholic Conference represents the three (arch)dioceses with territory in the state of Maryland, including the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington. We submit this testimony in support of House Bill 7.
House Bill 7 is an important measure for protecting the safety of children by allowing an extended period of time for maintaining records of a report of suspected child abuse or neglect.
Like many other institutions serving children, all Catholic parishes, diocesan schools and youth programs observe stringent child protection measures. Our institutions conduct mandatory criminal background checks on all employees and on certain volunteers who work with children, provide comprehensive awareness training to educate adults and children on how to recognize predatory behaviors, promptly report all suspected incidents of child sexual abuse, and widely publicize allegations of abuse to our communities.
House Bill 7 provides another tool for providing access to contextual information that could be critical in determining a potential pattern of abuse against a child. While the rights of those unjustly accused deserve consideration, the importance of maintaining rigorous measures for reducing the risk of harm to a child must be of paramount importance.
We urge a favorable report on House Bill 7.