Mandatory Reporting has popped again recently in that I am giving my opinion on the Moral Maze tonight on Radio 4 under the title “Turning a Blind Eye and the Law”. If you read the synopsis the debate will center around how the police are not stopping people for using a mobile phone in cars, and how landlords are objecting to checking up on immigration status of tenants, but my point is far more serious and concerns the need to impose a law forcing people to report child abuse when the witness or reasonably suspect it.
I also noticed a story in Yahoo News concerning the Jehovah’s Witness faith, and a campaign by a victim of one of their ministers for the introduction of Mandatory Reporting. To quote:-
“Currently, the so-called “two-witness rule” means Jehovah’s Witnesses deal with allegations of “sins” internally and only investigate themselves if the claim is corroborated by a second testimony – something lawyers say is unlikely given that many victims are abused on their own, in private.
Concern over the number of “hidden” victims has prompted campaigners to hand a letter to Downing Street calling on the government to take action.”
It is argued that if it were not for the 2 witness rule abuse which was carried out by a Jehovah Witness minister many years ago is more likely to have been prosecuted. The sect however denies that there is such a rule and that abuse is not tolerated, thus the rule may be a creature of history, the abuse in the reported case having taken place many years ago.
I have written on this subject many times before, so for a more in depth argument see my blogs,
‘Without Mandatory Reporting credible and reliable child protection is undeliverable.’ say charities., and Another institution ‘hoodwinked’ by manipulative Jimmy Savile. A quick search on this site and Google will find several others. In bullet point form
- It should be a criminal offence not to report child abuse which is either witnessed or reasonably suspected to have taken place.
- Whilst there are guidelines amongst some professionals but not others, failure to report cannot be acted on by the police even where a blind eye is turned, other than through the professional disciplinary routes. Evidence shows that guidelines are not working.
- It is the law in all states of America, Canada, and all but one state of Australia, as well as 10 other civilised countries. England Wales and Scotland stand alone as not having such a law.
- Where abuse occurs in institutions on a regular basis by a career paedophile, then an early report actioned properly could have prevented countless acts of abuse on children over many years.
- Far from criminalising professionals, mandatory reporting is designed to empower them to report their suspicions or evidence outside of any line of management directly to a 3rd party agency through a hotline facility which would be set up if the law changes.
- The government’s objection is centred around a fear that introducing such a law will create levels of reporting which will swamp agencies. Whilst there is bound to be a surge initially, limiting the reporting obligations to those working with children rather than the public at large should effectively temper any fears.
It will be interesting to see how the argument developes in the Moral Maze at 8pm tonight.