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What happens when I report child abuse?

Reporting process chart (pdf)

What happens when I tell?

  • When you tell a child protection worker of suspected child abuse, and when you call the Helpline, you are making a report.
  • If you call the Helpline to report child abuse, you will immediately talk to a child protection worker.
  • The worker will ask a lot of questions to make sure that he understands what is going on.
  • The worker will decide if an investigation is required.
  • If the worker does thinks that it is not abuse or neglect, but there are problems that need to be fixed, he may telephone your parents or go out to meet the family and offer services in the community or through the Ministry to try to fix the problems.
  • If the worker thinks that there may be abuse or neglect, he or another worker will investigate.

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

Do I have to tell?

If you have a reason to believe that you or friend is being hurt, you have a responsibility to report it to the Helpline or 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 know that child protection worker is already involved. All new incidents must be reported as well.
  • The legal duty to report overrides any duty of confidentiality.
  • Time is very important in ensuring the safety and well-being of children. Report immediately.
  • If you suspect that a child has been or is likely to be abused or neglected, you are responsible for making a report.
  • Do not contact the alleged perpetrator. This is the responsibility of the police, or the child protection worker.

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How to report

If you are in immediate danger, call the police!

You can report to a child protection worker in a Ministry for Children and Families office, a Child and Family Authorities 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 will be happy to receive any information you have. They’ll also ask for your name, address and phone number, and, if you calling about someone else, how you know the child. Your name will be kept confidential.

You do not have to give your name if you don't want to.

You will be asked for the following information, whether you are calling about yourself or someone else:

  • 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 what language they speak or their religion.

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After you make a report

  • If it appears the child or youth 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 chart for an overview of the reporting and investigating process.


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