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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 186907 Find in a Library
Title: Duty To Report Child Abuse
Author(s): Ronda Bessner
Date Published: 1999
Page Count: 62
Sponsoring Agency: Canada Department of Justice
Ottawa ON K1A 0H8, Canada
Sale Source: Canada Department of Justice
Justice Bldg. Kent St., at Wellington St.
Ottawa ON K1A 0H8,
Document: HTML
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: In examining the civil reporting legislation in Canadian Provinces and Territories, this study contacted an array of persons and organizations involved in child protection to determine their views and perceptions regarding their statutory duty to report suspected acts of child abuse.
Abstract: The interviews solicited the reasons why the interviewees might fail to report a suspected act of child abuse and questioned them regarding the extent to which legal action has been initiated against them in the event of such a failure. The involvement of child welfare authorities, children's aid societies, and police forces in the reporting duty was also examined. The final section of this paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of enacting in the Criminal Code a duty to report suspected cases of child abuse. It considers possible persons on whom this duty may be imposed, the elements of the offense, possible penalties for violating the reporting duty, and ways in which a criminal provision may have an impact on information-sharing and child-abuse investigations. The study found that a significant number of those interviewed perceived that a significant number of Canadians were not fulfilling their statutory duty to report suspected cases of child abuse. Some of the reasons cited for this failure to report were fear of reprisals from the abuser, concern about breaching a confidential relationship, lack of an understanding of the civil reporting laws, and a belief that government intervention would not benefit the child. According to those interviewed, few persons were being prosecuted for failing to report suspected child abuse. Making the failure to report a suspected case of child abuse a criminal offense for strategic persons may be an incentive for professionals and lay persons to report child abuse; it will provide a national standard for reporting; police and the justice system may become involved earlier in the process; serious penalties may be imposed for failure to report; and a hybrid offense will obviate limitation problems. Many of those interviewed, however, were opposed to imposing penal sanctions on otherwise law-abiding citizens who, for various reasons, may not report a suspected case of child abuse. 33 references and 26 cited court cases
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Child abuse investigations; Child abuse prevention; Child abuse reporting; Child abuse reporting statutes; Foreign laws
Note: This paper was presented at the Department of Justice Canada Conference "Working Together for Children: Protection and Prevention," Ottawa, September 1999. Accesses 02/06/2001
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