Child Abuse can be referred to as doing, or failing to do, something that results in harm to a child or puts a child at risk of harm.
Child Abuse can happen to any boy or girl and it is, therefore, our duty as a society to protect them.
One way of protecting children from abuse and neglect is by reporting.
Within our society, there are certain professional groups who are legally required to report actual and suspected cases of child abuse and neglect to the relevant authorities. They are called Mandated Reporters.
To learn more about the duties of a Mandated Reporter, keep on reading this article.
Who is a Mandated Reporter?
Section 27 of the Child Protection and Adoption Act, 2010, designates the following professionals as Mandated Reporters:
- Medical Practitioners, Nurses, Dentists and other health/mental health practitioners;
- Hospital Administrators;
- School Principals, Teachers and other teaching professionals;
- Social Workers and other social service professionals;
- Owners, operators and employees of childcare services;
- Guidance Counsellors; and
- Any other person who by virtue of his/her employment or occupation has a responsibility to care for a child.
What are Mandated Reporters required to do?
Section 27 further states that Mandated Reporters must notify the proper authorities in any case in which they have reason to believe that a child is being abused or neglected or that conditions exist in a child’s environment that may result in abuse or neglect. The report must be made immediately, or as soon as reasonably possible.
Who do Mandated Reporters contact?
Information regarding actual or suspected cases child abuse and neglect must be reported to the Child Protection Authority (CPA), or to a police officer who is to report the information to the CPA.
The CPA is responsible for all investigations of a child protection nature, and the Police Department is responsible for all investigations of child abuse that are of a criminal nature. However, joint investigations involving both the police and the CPA is advisable in almost all cases of child abuse and neglect.
Types of abuse that must be reported include:
- Verbal abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional/ psychological abuse
- Neglect and abandonment
- Exposure to domestic violence
Responsibilities of Mandated Reporters
Mandated Reporters are required only to report cases, and not investigate them. The correct course of action is to report to the relevant authorities so that trained personnel can investigate the matter and take the steps necessary.
The report should include:
- The child’s name
- The child’s age
- The child’s home address or address where the child can be reached
- The child’s parents’ names, phone numbers, and addresses, if known
- The type of suspected abuse
- The alleged perpetrator, if known
- The specific physical and behavioural signs or indicators of the maltreatment
Please Note: You can report anonymously. You do not have to disclose your identity if you do not wish to.
Why does Mandatory Reporting exist?
Mandatory Reporting is in place to prevent children from being further abused and to end any possible abuse or neglect at the earliest possible stage.
About Failure to Report
A mandated reporter who fails to comply commits an offence. The penalty for failing to report is a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months.
Can a person who is not a Mandated Reporter make a report?
Certainly! Even if you are not considered a mandated reporter, you are still encouraged to report child abuse. Consider it your social responsibility as your report can contribute to the end of abuse in a child’s life. Please note that the CPA cannot effectively perform its role when there is failure to report.
A famous African proverb says “It takes a village to raise a child”, but it also takes a village to look out for a child, and part of looking out children is reporting actual and suspected cases of child abuse.
Reporting may be hard to do, but it is necessary.
We look forward to your wholehearted support as we join forces to steer Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique in the direction of zero tolerance for child abuse and neglect.
For more information on reporting Child Abuse and Neglect, feel free to contact the Child Protection Authority on 440-6980 or 435-0293.
Child Protection Authority
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