California Temples Must Have Policy Addressing Suspected Child Sexual Abuse

As I mentioned in last month’s column, a new California law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, that deals with supervising children.

The main goal of the law is to try to identify people who have had convictions for child sexual abuse so that they are not in overseeing children’s activities. People who oversee children’s activities in our temples can include ministers, Dharma School teachers, Scout leaders, Young Buddhist Association (YBA) leaders, language school instructors, and youth sports activity directors.

The adults who are affected are called “mandatory reporters” for suspected child abuse. There are criteria for which mandatory reporters are affected based on the number of hours that an adult supervises children.

The mandatory reporters need to complete special training and need to undergo a background check. On January 11, there was a webinar put on by Church and Casualty Insurance Group that BCA informed California temple ministers and leaders about. If you missed that webinar, contact Gayle Noguchi at BCA headquarters and she can give you the information that was discussed.

Each affected temple organization needs to decide whether or not the requirements of the law apply to them. One of the best resources for information is your temple liability insurance carrier. The Federation of Dharma School Teachers League has information about their recommendations for Dharma School Teachers. Many Scout leaders have already undergone most of the training required and the necessary background checks.

Although the requirements can be cumbersome, temples need to have a policy in place that outlines what their mandatory reporters need to do and what to do if a child sexual predator is identified. We will be having a workshop on protection of children at our upcoming National Council Meeting next month. Terri Omori has been working on this issue for the past two years.

Although the workshop was planned before knowing that AB 506 was going to pass, we will help temples prepare for meeting the requirements of this new law. The law only applies to California, but leaders from other states may want to know how to deal with this issue.

At the end of January, Miles Hamada ended his job as assistant BCA facilities manager. Miles was tasked with helping to manage the Jodo Shinshu Center (JSC) and helped our Facilities Manager, Bob Matsueda.

Miles was in charge of keeping track of who was using every room in the JSC. All room reservations went through him. He was also helping us with maintaining the JSC during the pandemic and getting us ready for its reopening. We greatly appreciate all the work Miles did for us. Pam Matsuoka at BCA headquarters will now be in charge of scheduling events and room usage at the JSC.

At the end of December, Yumi Hatta retired as an assistant for the Center for Buddhist Education (CBE). Yumi started working for the CBE from its inception. For the past 13 years, she helped our CBE directors with all the programs that were conducted at the JSC and around the country. During the pandemic, she helped with our virtual events. She helped Judy Kono with preparing for each event and helped make them a great success. We wish her well in retirement.

Due to the pervasiveness and the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, the Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS) will be delaying its in-person classes at the JSC. Classes are currently taking place virtually. The BCA has purchased the necessary equipment so that the IBS students can take advantage of utilizing the “smart” classroom at the JSC when in-person classes resume.

Many of the events at next month’s virtual National Council Meeting will be open to all BCA members. In particular, we encourage BCA members to join us for the workshops and the BCA Eitaikyo Service on Sunday, March 13. Our workshops will be dealing with the BCA Music Committee, the Endowment Foundations’ custodial accounts, the Dharma Forward Campaign, and the protection of children.


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