The full article as it appeared in the Times is here.
Here is the pre-edited draft sent to The Times which contains important additional facts and supporting data :
‘It’s all different now’ is the default refrain from those who today are responsible for safeguarding in institutional settings such as education, sport, healthcare and faith. The amount of time spent by children in these operationally complex places is second only to time spent with their families. But the assertion begs the question, how is it all different now when today there is still no statutory obligation on ‘professionals’ working in positions of trust to report known or suspected abuse of a child to the authorities for independent assessment? It seems governments are prepared to rely merely only on an ‘expectation’ that ‘professionals’ will refer such concerns. But this arrangement is demonstrably unreliable. Data shows that when mandatory reporting is introduced to these settings, almost double the number of children are placed into safety who would otherwise be left to an unknown fate.
The majority of jurisdictions on all four continents have some form of mandatory reporting law. For example 72% Asia, 77% Africa, 86% Europe and 90% of the Americas (Daro.D World Perspectives on Child Abuse 7th ed. International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect 2006. p26). What is the purpose of a statutory requirement to report suspicions that a child is being abused?
- To make professionals report suspicions in instances in which they would not normally do so.
- To protect those who do report suspicions made in good faith which are not then validated in law.
- To gain redress for injuries sustained after a professional had been made aware of suspicions or problems, but after they have chosen not to take the matter further.
You’ll notice how relevant these points are to the child abuse perpetrated at Celtic Boys Club and Chelsea FC. What possibility is there of holding anyone to account for failing to report concerns when shamefully there’s no law to prosecute those who remain silent? When law is introduced, the cultural approach to safeguarding changes quickly.
Following the extension of mandatory reporting to teachers in New South Wales, a research article by David Lamond was published in 1989 by Child Abuse and Neglect. It was titled ‘The Impact of Mandatory Reporting Legislation on Reporting Behaviour in New South Wales,’ and it revealed that on the introduction of law, alongside a rise in the percentage of referrals from teachers (11.1% of total to 15.8%), there was a decrease in referrals from the public (52% to 47%) suggesting the existence of a correlation between the two. However when teachers suspected abuse they accurately detected the type of abuse 54% of the time and detected the child was subject to some form of abuse 67% of the time. Members of the public had much lower substantiation rates 36-38% confirmed as type of abuse and 47-50% as some form of abuse. It indicates mandatory reporting by ‘professionals’ produces more referrals of greater accuracy. A good outcome for children and the agencies whose role it is to investigate.
More recent data from multiple jurisdictions reveals that well-designed mandatory reporting supports staff and benefits children in their care. It’s considered a vital component of functioning safeguarding. So what possesses Government to persist with ‘discretionary reporting’ in these complex settings for which there is a dearth of supporting evidence?
Signs the Government is increasingly panicked over calls for the introduction of Mandatory Reporting – #FAabuse
Child sexual abuse in football has certainly stirred interest in the absence of law to report known and suspected abuse. It seems likely to be because of the sheer numbers of adults now contacting the various helplines following Andy Woodward’s disclosure on Victoria Live. The scale seems to have galvanised the public.
As a result Mandate Now has been invited to comment on mandatory reporting. For balance the BBC invited the leading Conservative party advocate against it, the former Children’s Minister, Tim Loughton (2010 – 2012), a role from which he was sacked.
The first was on Friday 2/12/16 on the 10pm R4 programme The World Tonight
This was followed and 8am contribution on Saturday 2/12/16 to R5Live with Eleanor Oldroyd
Importantly in his final contribution Mr Loughton to the piece, he uses substantiation as measure of ‘failure’ of Mandatory Reporting in New South Wales. He is mistaken once more.
- The MR system in Australian states did not consolidate reports from multiple mandated reporters about the same child/ren leading leading exaggeration of reported numbers. This has now been addressed.
- Substantiations do not account for early reports prompted by mandatory reporting which arrive with triage before abuse/crimes have been committed and are registered therefore as an unsubstantiated case
- Some States only require sexual abuse to be reported, and it is only those reports which can be ‘substantiated’ while those unsubstantiated cases, which often reveal other concerns that require input from social services agencies are defined as ‘unsubstantiated’ cases.
- Misusing or not exploring the available empirical evidence, or doing so in an unsound way is happening increasingly with UK Government and this extends to its spokesperson Mr Loughton.
This misuse of ‘substantiations’ as a measure of success peppers the Home Office consultation. We can expect no better, the Government appears panicked it might have to do something about the dysfunctional child protection framework it stewards. Here is research that supports our assertions about its misuse of substantiations :
This research into reports of all forms of abuse and neglect taken as a whole, and their outcomes, has resulted in conclusions that the substantiation outcome is “a distinction without a difference” (Hussey et al., 2005), that it is “time to leave substantiation behind” (Kohl et al.,2009), and that “substantiation is a flawed measure of child maltreatment. . .policy and practice related to substantiation are due for a fresh appraisal” (Cross & Casanueva, 2009).
On 3/12/16 MN contributed to the Majiid Nawaz programme on LBC. As you will hear Majiid like so many in this country, including two Department for Education Ministers to my personal knowledge, was unaware of the non existence of law to report abuse. Goodness the website got busy after this contribution.
The public disclosure by Andy Woodward of child sexual abuse perpetrated on him by Barry Bennell when Andy was an 11 year old junior at Crewe Alexandra has had a dramatic effect on the public, and football. The exclusive story in The Guardian ‘It was the softer weaker boys he targeted‘ on the 16th November, combined with Andy’s appearance on VictoriaLIVE the following day is having a profound effect. Abuse in football, and sport generally, has finally emerged into the daylight. Mandate Now contributed to the programme and others on this important day. (more…)
An article appeared in the Observer on 4/09/16. The headline captures the thoughts of Baroness Walmsley whose amendment 43 in the Serious Crimes Bill secured the consultation.
Government delayed the start of the consultation by 631 days and then launched on the last day of parliament just as schools, the largest Regulated Activity, went on holiday. Furthermore the end of the consultation will be distracted by the political conference season just before the consultation closes on 13th October.
Child protection has not been liked by Government of any hue.
On 22.6.16 the Spectator published an article by Josie Appleton who does not appear to be a regular contributor. She is convener for a pressure group that writes against regulations in everyday life. She also periodically contributes to the Guardian. Clearly Mandatory Reporting seems to be considered a soft target to which, just like any other piece of proposed legislation, Ms Appleton can contribute using her adult logic without appreciating the first two rules of child protection are (i) suspend adult logic (ii) apply significant experience because it is a complex subject. The piece is available here
There are several points of interest in the article. Firstly that appeared in this Conservative magazine at this time at all. The Government has repeatedly deferred the consultation despite there being little need. We understand it was ready to begin in December 15 and that it might now be launched just before the recess, ideally timed for the ‘silly season.’ Let’s not forget Mr Cameron described child abuse as a ‘national threat.’
Within the article there is a thumb print that suggests Ms Appleton was briefed by the Department for Education media team. The idea that referrals from Mandated reporters are poor, while referrals from elsewhere are reliable is pure DfE fantasy spin.
The Spectator declined to publish a comment from a reader maybe because it was too long or perhaps because of embedded links to evidence. (more…)