Resources: Taking Action
Why People Don’t Take Action
There are a number of reasons why responsible adults fail to take action in situations where a child may be at risk or when they observe something that makes them feel uncomfortable:
- The action is ignored or minimized.
- It’s blamed on the child.
- The action is explained away as accidental, unintended/mistake, or a misunderstanding.
- Thinking “this is none of my business.”
- Being afraid of the consequences of reporting.
Why Should You Report?
It’s a normal reaction to avoid something that makes you feel uncomfortable, but, keep in mind, there is a child that needs your protection. Remember:
- You don’t have to prove that a child has been abused in order to report abuse. Trust your instincts and say something.
- Child protection is everyone’s business. In fact, due to mandatory reporting laws in most provinces and territories, it IS your business to report.
- Trust your instincts and don’t hope that someone else will speak up.
Reporting Concerning Behaviour
While obvious sexual acts are easier to identify and address, concerning behaviour that doesn’t meet the threshold of abuse still needs to be reported. Be mindful:
- If you observe or hear about concerning behaviour or an inappropriate situation between an adult and your child or another child within an organization, such as a school, daycare, or sports program, report your concerns to the organization. Flagging the concerning behaviour to the organization should trigger a review in an effort to correct and stop the possible misconduct.
- If you have contact with the child outside the organization (e.g., you know the child’s parents), you should still report to the organization and also report your concerns to the child’s parents. Flagging concerning behaviour to a parent may help the parent address the issue with the organization and discuss it with their child if appropriate.
- In some circumstances, particularly if your concerns are not addressed or you become aware of more information, you may wish to consider involving the appropriate authorities such as law enforcement or child welfare.
Remember, questioning concerning behaviour does not mean you’re making an allegation of sexual abuse.
Reporting Concerns of Child Sexual Abuse
When a person becomes aware that a child may be or has been abused, there is a legal and ethical responsibility to take action. The legal responsibility comes from child welfare legislation within each province and territory and may also be a duty of a person’s profession or workplace.
The responsibility to report means that a person who has knowledge or information that a child is being or is at risk of being abused must report it to someone:
- If the information relates to potential abuse of a child by the child’s parent or guardian, the person must report it to child welfare or police.
- If the concern involves potential abuse by any other person, the individual should report it to the child’s parent or guardian and may also be obligated to report it to child welfare and/or police if the person is aware that the child’s parent/guardian has not or will not take action to protect the child.
If a person learns about past child sexual abuse that is no longer occurring, it’s still important to report the abuse. The offender may still have access to other children and those children may be at risk.
Reporting Instances of Sextortion, Self/Peer Exploitation, and Other Concerns
The Canadian Centre offers resources to help families report and take steps to manage instances that involve tweens/teens:
- Sextortion — Visit Cybertip.ca to learn more about dealing with instances of sextortion.
- Self/Peer Exploitation (Sexting) — Visit NeedHelpNow.ca for help managing instances of self/peer exploitation. Also available to download: A Resource Guide for Families: Addressing Self/Peer Exploitation.
- More information and guidance — Download Parenting Tweens and Teens in the Digital World.