Mandatory Reporting Info

Under WV Code §49-2-803, members of the clergy as well as any “employee, coach or volunteer of an entity that provides organized activities for children” are classified as mandatory reporters. That includes most church employees and volunteers. In fact, most people who work with children in any capacity — including religious healers, mental health professionals, camp counselors, and teachers — are considered mandatory reporters under WV law.

Being a mandatory reporter means that you are required by law to report all reasonable suspicions of child abuse or neglect to DHHR within 24 hours.

Reporting to a supervisor or school administrator DOES NOT fulfill your legal duty as a mandatory reporter. You MUST file a direct report by calling the WV Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 800-352-6513.

For cases of serious physical abuse or sexual abuse/assault, you must also contact contact State Police and any law enforcement agency having jurisdiction to investigate.

If you have questions about mandatory reporting requirements, please refer to our FAQ page about Reporting Child Abuse in WV.

Creating a Child Protection Policy

The most important thing a church can do in its efforts to prevent child abuse is to implement a strong child protection policy.

For guidance on creating or refining your church’s child protection policy, check out The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries by Basyle Tchividjian and Shira M. Berkovits.

We also highly recommend working with GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to make your church a safer place for children. Start by reviewing their list of common questions. Then read up on GRACE’s Safeguarding Initiative and consider pursuing Safeguarding Certification for your church.

If your church is currently dealing with abuse allegations, check out Diane Langberg’s article “Recommendations for Churches Dealing With Abuse.”

Finally, SHIELD offers a variety of trainings designed to educate church congregations, leadership, and volunteers. If you’d like to schedule a SHIELD training or event at your church, just fill out our event/training request form.

Trauma-Informed Ministry

GRACE offers an ever-expanding list of resources that will help your church minister to its members and the broader community in a trauma-informed way. The GRACE website also features a list of books that church members and ministry leaders will find especially helpful.

You may also want to consider hosting a webcast of Becoming Trauma-Informed: Helping Kids Feel Safe at Church training by Ryan and Kayla North.

For more information, check out our Resources for Teachers page as well as the following articles and videos:

Additionally, the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at TCU has posted a list of articles and online videos related to its Trauma-Based Relational Intervention (TRBI) model. TRBI an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. You can also buy digital or DVD copies of various TBRI lectures online.


National Helplines

Below are some helplines available for victims and people in crisis, organized by topic. Church pastors, volunteers, leaders, and members may need to call these hotlines themselves or pass them along to others in need of help.

Alcohol and Drugs

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration: 800-662-4357

Child Abuse

Childhelp: 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453)

Child Sexual Abuse

Darkness to Light: 866-FOR-LIGHT (866-367-5444)

Child Welfare

Child Welfare Information Gateway: 800-394-3366 or live chat on website 

Crime Victims

Crime Connect Hotline: 855-4-VICTIM (855-484-2846)

Crisis (Any Kind)

Crisis Text Line: Text “LISTEN” to 741-741

Domestic Violence

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800−799−7233

Human Trafficking

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888-373-7888 or text “Be Free” to 233733

Missing or Abducted Children

Child Find of America 800-I-AM-LOST (800-426-5678)

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: 800-THE-LOST (800-843-5678)


National Parent Helpline: 855-4-A-PARENT (855-427-2736)


National Capital Poison Control Center: 800-222-1222


American Pregnancy Helpline: 866-942-6466

Option Line: 800-712-HELP or text “HELPLINE” to 313131

Crisis Pregnancy Helpline: 800-672-2296

National Life Center: 800-848-LOVE


National Runaway Safeline: 800-786-2929

Sexual Assault

National Sexual Assault Hotline:  800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673)


Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)

Local Resources