Everyone has a duty to report child maltreatment. If you know or suspect a child is being maltreated, you have a duty to report it to the Children's Aid Society. Everyone, including professionals, has a responsibility to protect children by reporting actual or suspected maltreatment.
The CYFSA is clear on the civic responsibilities of ordinary citizens and their duty to report any concerns of abuse and neglect to Children’s Aid Societies. There is a special responsibility on the part of professionals who work with children such as teachers, child care workers and doctors to report concerns of abuse and neglect to Children’s Aid Societies.
The role of TBCAS is to investigate the calls made by the public using a professional and standardized process. The person making the report should bring forward their concerns and TBCAS will determine if there is a sufficient basis to warrant further assessment of the concerns about the child.
Who Should Call Us?
Members of the Public & Professionals:
We all share a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of children, and to protect them from harm. Whether you are a parent, friend, neighbour, or a professional who comes in contact with children, it's your legal Duty to Report child abuse and neglect. We receive calls from teachers, school social workers and principals who contact us with concerns about their students. Police officers, neighbours, daycare staff, doctors, nurses and family members also contact us when there are concerns.
Children and Youth:
If you are a child or a youth who has been hurt by a grown-up, and you do not feel safe at home, we are here to help you. If a grown-up has done something to hurt you, or scare you, you can call us and talk to one of our workers. If you have a friend that you think is hurt or scared, you can call us and we will help. Even if the person who hurt you told you not to tell, you should call us.
We are here to help you.
Did You Know?
- We accept anonymous calls from non-professionals, such as neighbours or friends.
- You do not have to be certain that abuse or neglect has taken place. You can also call us if you have a gut feeling or suspicion that something is not right.
- When you call us with a question or concern, a trained social worker will answer your call, and listen carefully to your concerns so that we can be of help.
- Many calls are resolved over the telephone because it is determined that there is a low level of risk to the child. We can often help such families through referrals to a community partner/agency.
Reporting Child Maltreatment
We all share a responsibility to protect children from harm – a responsibility that extends to those situations where children suffer maltreatment in their own homes. The Child & Family Services Act provides for the protection of these children. The Act recognizes that each of us has a responsibility for the welfare of children. It states clearly that members of the public, including professionals who work with children, have an obligation to report promptly to a children’s aid society if they suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection. Section 125(1) of The Act defines the term “child in need of protection” as a child who is or who appears to be suffering from maltreatment, and sets out what must be reported to a children’s aid society.
Responsibility to Report a Child in Need of Protection
If a person has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection, the person must promptly report the suspicion and the information upon which it is based on a children’s aid society. Section 125(1) describes the specific circumstances that must be reported. It is not necessary for you to be certain a child is or may be in need of protection to make a report. “Reasonable grounds” refers to the information that an average person, exercising normal and honest judgment, would need in order to make a decision to report.
Ongoing duty to report (CYFSA s.125(2))
The duty to report is an ongoing obligation. If a person has made a previous report about a child, and has additional reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection, that person must make a further report to a children’s aid society.
Persons must report directly (CYFSA s. 125(3))
The person who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection must make the report directly to a children’s aid society. The person must not rely on anyone else to report on his or her behalf.
Special responsibilities of professionals and officials, and a penalty for failure to report (CYFSA s.125(4), (6.2))
Professional persons and officials have the same duty as any member of the public to report a suspicion that a child is in need of protection. The Act recognizes, however, that persons working closely with children have a special awareness of the signs of child maltreatment, and a particular responsibility to report their suspicions, and so makes it an offence to fail to report.
Any professional or official who fails to report a suspicion that a child is or may be in need of protection where the information on which that suspicion is based was obtained in the course of his or her professional or official duties, is liable on conviction to a fine of up to $1,000.
Professionals affected (CYFSA s. 125(5))
Persons who perform professional or official duties with respect to children include the following:
- Health care professionals, including physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and psychologists;
- Teachers, and school principals
- Social workers and family counsellors;
- Priests, rabbis and other members of the clergy;
- Operators or employees of day nurseries;
- Youth and recreation workers (not volunteers);
- Peace officers and coroners;
- Service providers and employees of service providers; and
- Any other person who performs professional or official duties with respect to a child.
This list sets out examples only. If your work involves children but is not listed above, you may still be considered to be a professional for purposes of the duty to report. If you are not sure whether you may be considered to be a professional for purposes of the duty to report, you should contact your local children’s aid society, professional association or regulatory body.
Professional Confidentiality (CYFSA s. 125(7),(8))
A professional must report that a child is or may be in need of protection, even when the information is otherwise confidential or privileged. This duty overrides the provisions of any other provincial statute, and specifically overrides any provisions that would otherwise prohibit someone from making a disclosure. Only solicitors may not divulge “privileged” information about their clients.
Protection from liability (CYFSA s. 125(7))
If a civil action is brought against a person who made a report, that person will be protected unless he or she acted maliciously or without reasonable grounds for his or her suspicion.
How to Contact the Children’s Aid Society
If you have concerns about a child, please contact the Children’s Aid Society. The Children’s Aid Society has an emergency service 24 hours a day.