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Support for mandatory reporting

In the last year the headlines have been dominated by the sexual abuse of young children. Such cases have led to a national debate on how we treat those who report sexual abuse and have led to an increase in those speaking out. Historically children have been warned about ‘stranger danger’ but recent figures from the NSPCC show over 90% of child victims are sexually abused by someone they know, such as teachers. More often than not we at Bolt Burdon Kemp are approached by people who were abused by individuals who were well known to them and their family.

Former Director of Public Prosecutions, Kier Starmer, who left his role last week, has become the most senior official to call for the introduction of mandatory reporting of sexual abuse. In last night’s Panorama Starmer stated that the UK should bring itself in to line with other countries such as the US, Canada and Australia where it is a criminal offence for professionals not to report abuse to the authorities.

Whilst the Department of Education continues to resist the proposed change it is clear that something must be done. Guidelines are not being followed as employees and volunteers of institutions continue to turn a blind eye to abuse. Time and again victims of child abuse often learn at the steps of the criminal court that they are not the only victim of an abuser. Time and again they wonder if they may have been saved from the abuse they suffered if someone with suspicions had spoken out. Indeed, the Catholic Church and the Church of England have stated that they would welcome mandatory reporting. It is time that the Government gave proper consideration to the proposals put forward by the former Director of Public Prosecutions which are supported by institutions and ultimately put the child before the establishment.

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