Child Abuse or Neglect
As health care professionals, all naturopaths have a responsibility to help keep children safe, whether or not they are in your care. Below you will find details of your duty to report abuse or neglect.
Under the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA), any suspicions that a child may be in need of protection must promptly be reported directly to a children’s aid society. This is referred to as your “duty to report”.
The CFSA states that people working closely with children have a special awareness of the signs of child abuse or neglect, and a particular responsibility to report their suspicions. They include:
- health care professionals such as physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and psychologists;
- teachers and school principals;
- social workers and family counsellors;
- religious leaders, including priests, rabbis and members of the clergy;
- operators or employees of child care centres;
- youth and recreation workers (not volunteers);
- peace officers and coroners;
- child and youth service providers and employees of these service providers; and
- any other person who performs professional or official duties with respect to a child.
Professionals should never hesitate to report suspected child abuse or neglect. It is your legal duty to make a report to a children’s aid society if you suspect that a child may be in need of protection.
If you fail to report a suspicion of child abuse or neglect, you may be liable upon conviction to a fine of up to $1,000 if this information is obtained in the course of your professional duties.
The CFSA specifies that a person who acts in accordance with the duty to report is protected from civil actions, unless they act maliciously or without reasonable grounds for the suspicion.
For information on children’s aid societies in Ontario, please visit the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. You can also locate a children’s aid society in the local telephone listings or by dialing 411 where available.
For more information, please visit the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
The useful brochure “Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect: It’s Your Duty” can be found here.