by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
The phrase, “If you see something, say something,” has also made its way into safe environment training programs to encourage people to report suspected sexual abuse of minors. In fact, state law mandates some people who work with children to report suspected child abuse, such as teachers, school administrators, healthcare practitioners, law enforcement personnel, social service and child-care workers, as well as clergy (except when revealed in sacramental confession).
While reporting suspected abuse and suspicious activity can help prevent crimes, care must be taken to make sure that such suspicions are not spurious, given the harm to a person’s good name and reputation that can come from false accusations. Suspicious situations should also be brought to the attention of the proper authorities, lest the suspicions become simply the subject of idle chatter, habitual gossip, and rumor-mongering.