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Barriere Bits, Issue #010 Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse
March 18, 2008

Welcome to Barriere Bits, the child abuse information e-zine that will provide you with international child abuse information.

In this issue, you'll find child abuse news from:


Many librarians in the state were unaware they had become state-mandated reporters of known or suspected child abuse and neglect. Legislation was passed in May of 2007, but the librarians were not advised of the change until the end of December 2007. Training for the librarians has now been complete.

Changes to the law require that anyone coming into contact with children through their career or profession must report known or suspected child abuse or neglect. Among the list are all social services agencies, law enforcement officials, physicians, education professionals, church and religious institutions, dentists, coroners, as well as others.

My Comments: Disturbing oversight, but at least they've rectified it by providing the librarians with the necessary training to spot the signs and symptoms of child abuse.

The Senate passed the Child Abuse Reporting Bill (35 to 10) which will make failure to report suspicions of child abuse a misdemeanour for teachers, health care workers, law enforcement officers, and other professionals. Currently, forty-five states have mandatory reporting laws in place. In thirty-eight of those states, failure to report would be a misdemeanour that carries jail terms of 10 days to five years and fines up to $5000.

My Comments: Many community members are outraged at this Bill, citing that teachers already have enough to do, that they shouldn't have to also police what goes on in the home. Very narrow thinking. If teachers turn their backs on the signs and symptoms of child abuse, they enable it. Indeed, ANYONE who turns their back on suspected or known child abuse enables it. The law doesn't go far enough; EVERYONE should be a mandatory reporter.

A reminder that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States. Learn to recognize the signs of abuse. Four children die each and every day of child abuse in the United States. Report known or suspected child abuse and neglect to the authorities; don't make it a matter for a mandatory reporter. Preventing child abuse is everybody's responsibility.

Check your local newspapers and community events calendars for ongoing activities in your community.

United Kingdom:

Scotland has officially announced a national telephone hotline for victims of child abuse and for those who want to report suspected or known child abuse, including those who believe that parents are neglecting their children due to alcohol or drug abuse--it is estimated that up to 60,000 Scottish children are currently living with a parent who abuses drugs. The hotline (0800 022 3222) provides access to Child Protection Services.

My Comments: I have now updated my Stories pages to include this national hotline number.


In Victoria, mandatory reporting laws that were adopted by the Kennett government after the tragic death by child abuse of two-year-old Daniel Valerio in September 1990 DO NOT include social workers, child care workers, church and religious ministers, youth workers, psychologists and parole officers. The law stopped at doctors, police, teachers and nurses. Subsequent governments have taken no action to remedy this inconsistency. Add the fact that in Victoria, mandatory reporters are only required to notify the authorities about physical child abuse and child sexual abuse. The law does not cover neglect or emotional abuse.

Each state and territory in Australia has adopted different child abuse reporting laws:

Tasmania and the Northern Territory:
All adults are legally obligated to report.

Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales:
Only specific professional groups are mandated reporters.

Western Australia:
Recently commenced only limited mandatory reporting.

My Comments: These varied reporting laws mean there is no reliable national data on the child abuse situation in Australia. Without reliable data, appropriate resources will never be made available to children and families; over the past 18 months, Australia has been in the news almost every day over the deplorable child abuse situation in many areas. If there is any hope of truly protecting the children of Australia, the government must introduce uniform national standards regarding mandatory reporting laws and the investigation of child abuse. Anything less is a further affront to the children of this country.


A survey revealed Japanese children who died from abuse or neglect climbed 46 percent in 2006 from 2005. Of the 126 children who died, 65 died in murder-suicides, which is more than double the cases that were reported in 2005. Another 23 children died of various forms of neglect. Fifty-five percent of the children who died were 3 years or younger. In 83 of the cases, child counseling centers, local governments or hospitals had been alerted to pre-existing abuse and made contact with the families.

My Comments: What the results of this survey don't show is what type of contact was made with the families and whether or not there was any follow up. But even without this knowledge, clearly the system is not working when 66% of these families had been contacted by support services. Troubling.

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Author Bio

Darlene Barriere is a child abuse survivor, a violence and abuse prevention educator and author of On My Own Terms, A Memoir. She lives in semi-arid Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada with her husband, John.

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