Mandatory Report Of Child Abuse

Any person who has a reasonable suspicion that a child is in need of protection needs to report that suspicion to the local Children's Aid Society. While everyone has this duty, it is an offence for a dietitian not to make a report when the information is obtained in the course of practising dietetics. 

For a report under the Child and Family Services Act, only reasonable grounds to "suspect", not "believe", is needed. This means that the degree of information suggesting that a child is in need of protection can be quite low. As the definition of a child in need of protection, under the Child and Family Services Act , is quite lengthy and complex, when faced with potential child abuse where the health or safety of a child is threatened, dietitians are urged to get advice on reporting. You may get advice either from the Practice Advisor at the College, legal counsel or your organization's risk manager. 

Many of the mandatory reporting criteria refer to "reasonable grounds to believe". That phrase has two components:

  1. Reasonable grounds refer to objective information, not personal belief. If the facts are present, a report must be made even though you might not believe the facts to be true. A dietitian does not have to make a detailed evaluation of whether the person providing the information is credible - - so long as there is some objective basis for making the report. 
  2. Reasonable grounds describe the type of information needed to make a report. Mere rumour or gossip does not constitute reasonable grounds; for example, a nurse saying over coffee that everyone knows that a certain doctor in the hospital sleeps with his patients. However, hard evidence or clear proof is not needed either. Information from someone who did not personally observe the event is fine, so long as it contains some specifics.