Report highlights concerns on reporting of child abuse

MANDATORY reporting of suspected child abuse may not lead to more cases being tackled, while inquiries into some child abuse cases are not sufficiently independent or transparent, according to a new report by the government-appointed Rapporteur on Child Protection.

The report from child law expert Geoffrey Shannon is due to be published this week and is the latest since he was appointed Special Rapporteur on Child Protection in 2006.

The Irish Examiner understands that in addition to raising concerns about a possible overloading of the system were mandatory reporting to be introduced, it also calls for legislative action to bind the state to delivering on its commitments on child protection, including measures outlined in the Ryan Report into clerical child abuse.

The report was brought before the Cabinet yesterday and will be presented before the Oireachtas and then published later this week.

It is understood it outlines a need for greater accountability and that the voice of the child be heard in proceedings, as well as a possible legal mechanism that would compel anyone involved in an inquiry into child abuse to co-operate.

Child welfare campaigners have complained that the 1999 Children First guidelines have not been fully or equally implemented and this has led to a lack of adequate safeguards or reporting mechanisms.

However, while many child welfare groups have called for mandatory reporting to be introduced on a statutory footing, it is understood the report highlights the possibility that existing structures would not be able to deal with the deluge of cases that could arise if it was introduced.

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