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Reporting abuse or suspected abuse

See also:

Duty to report

Everyone who has a reason to believe that a child has been or is likely to be physically harmed, sexually abused or sexually exploited, or needs protection is legally responsible to report the matter to a child protection worker.

The duty to report applies to anyone who has reason to believe that a child has been or is likely to be abused or neglected, or may need protection, to promptly report the matter to a child protection worker.

  • It doesn't matter if you believe someone else is reporting the situation, you still have to report.
  • It doesn't matter if you're aware that a child protection worker is already involved with the child, you still have to report the matter. All new incidents must be reported as well.
  • The legal duty to report overrides any duty of confidentiality, except a solicitor-client relationship.
  • Time is of the essence in ensuring the safety and well-being of children. Report immediately.
  • If you have reason to believe that a child has been or is likely to be abused or neglected, then the responsibility for making a report to a child protection worker legally rests with you.
  • Do not contact the alleged perpetrator. This is the responsibility of the police, or the child protection worker.

If you need to contact the alleged perpetrator in order to protect children under their authority, this should be coordinated with the police and child protection worker.

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How to report

Report to a child protection worker in either a Ministry for Children and Families office, or a First Nations child welfare agency that provides child protection services.

  • Anytime, call the Helpline for Children. Dial 310-1234 (no area code needed).
  • Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., call your local district office (listed in the blue pages of your phone book).

The child protection worker will:

  • determine if the child needs protection
  • contact the police if a criminal investigation is required
  • coordinate a response with other agencies, if necessary

If a child is in immediate danger, police should be called to intervene and a child protection worker should be contacted to determine whether the child is in need of protection.

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What to report

Don’t wait until you have all this information before calling. Just tell the child protection worker as much as you know. They’ll also ask for your name, address and phone number and how you know the child. Your name will be kept confidential.

The report should include the following:

  • your name
  • your number
  • the child's name
  • the child's age
  • the location of the child
  • your relationship to the child
  • any immediate concerns about the child's safety
  • information on the situation including all physical and behavioural indicators observed
  • information about the family, parents and alleged offenders
  • the nature of the child's disabilities, if any
  • the name of a key support person
  • other child(ren) who may be affected
  • information about other persons or agencies closely involved with the child and/or family
  • any other relevant information concerning the child and/or family such as language and culture

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After you make a report

  • If it appears the child may, indeed, need protection, a child protection worker will start an investigation.
  • Depending on the kind of abuse or neglect involved, the child protection worker may contact other agencies such as the police, the Superintendent of Schools, or the local Medical Health Officer.
  • Investigations may involve interviews with the child and people who know the child, such as their parents, extended family, teacher, family doctor or child care worker.
  • If the child is Aboriginal, their band or community will also be involved. Or, the information may be turned over to an aboriginal child welfare agency.

See the diagram that provides an overview of the reporting and investigating process.


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