The IICSA Considers Mandatory Reporting Of Child Sexual Abuse

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) was established in 2014 to investigate how institutions, across society and including charities, have failed and continue to fail in protecting children from sexual abuse.

As part of its work the IICSA recently held two seminars at the end of April on the idea of introducing a legal requirement to report knowledge or suspicions of child sexual abuse for certain professional groups that work closely with children, such as teachers and medical staff.

These are preliminary discussions, which will inform the final report and recommendations mandated in the IICSA's terms of reference. However the transcripts will also make very interesting reading for those in the third sector who work with children.

In particular, if these proposals are taken forward they would transform the current landscape of 'safeguarding' regulation for charities, and offer much for charities working with children to consider now.

The arguments for and against Mandatory reporting legislation

Many countries already have mandatory reporting legislation - including Ireland, France, Canada and certain states in Australia - and studies in such countries show that the legislation increased the number of reports of suspected and known child sexual abuse.

In Western Australia for example, the mean number of reports of child sexual abuse per annum increased from 662 to 2,448 after introducing mandatory reporting laws.

The participants at the IICSA's seminars commented that, under the current regime for reporting, many people are unsure of their reporting duties and the steps they need to take if they only have slight suspicions or have noticed something is "off" for a child.

A law that requires reporting in cases of knowledge and suspicion of abuse would clarify requirements and, hopefully, lead to earlier and more frequent identification of abuse.

The crucial benefit delivered by mandatory reporting is therefore the opportunity to increase the chance of abuse being reported.

This could potentially prevent years of perpetual abuse as well as reducing the trauma and other negative by-products that victims face as adults, including depression, anxiety, self-harm and PTSD.

However, the discussion at the seminar included consideration of whether mandatory reporting legislation was the best means to achieve that vital goal.

In particular the IICSA has also noted the risk of an increase in premature and false reporting and that...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT