Reporting Suspected or Disclosed Child Abuse
The following steps should be taken in reporting child abuse to the statutory authorities:
- Observe and note dates, times, locations and contexts in which the incident occurred or suspicion was aroused, together with any other relevant information.
- Report the matter as soon as possible to the designated person with responsibility for reporting abuse within the Irish Amateur Archery Association. If the Designated Person has reasonable grounds for believing that the child has been abused or is at risk of abuse, he or she will make a report to the Health Service Executive or Social Services who have statutory responsibility to investigate and assess suspected or actual child abuse.
- In cases of emergency, where a child appears to be at immediate and serious risk and the Designated Person is unable to contact a duty social worker, the Gardai or police authorities should be contacted. Under no circumstances should a child be left in a dangerous situation pending intervention by the Statutory Authorities
- If the Designated Person is unsure whether reasonable grounds for concern exist he or she can informally consult with the local health board or social services. The Designated Officer of will be advised whether or not the matter requires a formal report.
- A Designated Person reporting suspected or actual child abuse to the Statutory Authorities will first inform the family of their intention to make such a report, unless doing so would endanger the child or undermine an investigation.
- The Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998 provides immunity from civil liability to persons who report child abuse ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to the Health Service Executive or the Gardai. The act also covers the offence of ‘false reporting’.
The main provisions of the Act are:
- The provision of immunity from civil liability to any person who reports child abuse “reasonably and in good faith” to designated officers of Health Service Executive or any member of An Garda Siochána;
- The provision of significant protections for employees who report child abuse. These protections cover all employees and all forms of discrimination up to and including, dismissal;
- The creation of a new offence of false reporting of child abuse where a person makes a report of child abuse to the appropriate authorities “knowing that statement to be false”.
This is a new criminal offence designed to protect innocent persons from malicious reports.
This law does not exist in Northern Ireland, but an individual who reports concerns in ‘good faith’ is not deliberately attempting to slander another person’s name. In Northern Ireland there is legislation, the Criminal Law Act (NI) 1967 which places the responsibility on everyone to report offences or to forward information to the police by emphasizing the, ‘duty of every other person, who knows or believes
- (a) that the offence or some other arrestable offences has been committed, and
- (b) that he has information which is likely to secure, or to be material assistance insecuring, the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of any person for that offence.
Allegations against Sports Leaders
The Irish Amateur Archery Association has agreed procedures to be followed in cases of alleged child abuse against Sports Leaders. If such an allegation is made against a Leader working within the club, two procedures should be followed:
- The reporting procedure in respect of suspected child abuse (reported by the designated person), see previous
- The procedure for dealing with the Sports Leader (carried by out by the club Chair or senior officer, or a person not already involved with the child protection concern)
The safety of the child making the allegation and any others who are or may be at risk should be ensured and this should take precedence over any other consideration. In this regard, the club should take any steps which may be immediately necessary to protect the child.
The issue of confidentiality is important. Information is on a need to know basis and the Archery Leader should be treated with respect and fairness.