Welcome to another week.
The Law Society has come out against mandatory reporting of child abuse, a duty which if made into law, would require child welfare professionals to report suspected child abuse to police and other officials.
Arguing that a duty to report suspected abuse would be counter-productive, the Law Society has suggested that mandatory reporting would be overly intrusive for families involved, lead to a sharp increase in reports which would cripple an already backlogged family justice system and lead to further delays, as child welfare professionals would become “overly preoccupied” with the need to report abuse.
But emerging research paints a different picture. Although some evidence in the US suggests that criminal sanctions for failure to report suspected abuse can lead to professionals turning a blind eye to abuse over fears that this could cause the child in question more harm, much of the research to date highlights positive outcomes. Other US research implies that a larger number of abused children go on to be identified without causing additional strain to child protection platforms, and data from Western Australia shows that twice as many sexually abused children went on to be identified after the introduction of the law, there.
Our question this week then, is this: Do you think mandatory reporting of child abuse is a good or a bad thing?