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Professional Advisory – Duty to Report Child Abuse – Backgrounder

September 18 2015

Why is the College issuing this advisory?

The Ontario College of Teachers regulates Ontario’s teaching profession in the public interest. Professional Advisories are intended to guide members in their professional practice. We have a legal duty and an ethical obligation to the public to provide such advice to our 239,000 members.

The advisory provides clear and consistent advice, which helps to support members’ professional judgment to report to a children’s aid society when they suspect a child is a victim of abuse or neglect. In 2014, the jury in a provincial coroner’s inquest into the death of Jeffrey Baldwin – a five-year old Toronto boy who suffered years of mistreatment by his grandparents – recommended that regulatory bodies like the College promote the duty to report to their membership.

To whom does this advisory apply?

This advisory applies to all 239,000 Ontario Certified Teachers (OCTs) including teachers, vice-principals, principals, consultants, supervisory officers and directors of education. It also affects members working in public, private, independent schools, and elsewhere.

What happens if teachers don’t follow this advice?

It is a teacher’s legal and ethical duty to report abuse. Failure to report can lead to conviction of a

provincial offence under the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) and fines. The Ontario College of

Teachers can also find members guilty of professional misconduct if they fail to comply with their

duties under the CFSA.

What specific advice is the College providing?

We want teachers to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect, report suspicions immediately, and reflect to ensure that they have done all they can to protect children.

The advisory also answers such questions as: what prompts a duty to report; to whom to report a suspected case of child abuse; and what are the consequences of not reporting.

What happens if a teacher reports suspected abuse and is wrong?

Teachers cannot be held liable for making a report as long as they have reasonable grounds and are not acting maliciously.

Who was involved in the development of the advisory?

Teachers, College Council and staff, experts and critical readers, education stakeholders, the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS), and police services were involved in the development of this advisory.

Where will it be available?

The advisory is available on the College website at www.oct.ca. It was mailed to all 239,000 members at the beginning of the current school year.

Where can teachers go for additional information on this topic?

Teachers can consult their local children’s aid societies, their employers, teacher federation or professional association, or visit the College website at www.oct.ca.

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