Having been busy moving house, I nearly missed some of the best news concerning child protection this year.
The Government has decided NOT to introduce Mandatory Reporting of child abuse and neglect in England. The response to the consultation concludes:
“Most fundamentally, the evidence and submissions received through the consultation has not demonstrated conclusively that the introduction of a mandatory reporting duty or a duty to act improves outcomes for children. This must be our guiding consideration when considering such a major reform of such a vital service.” (Paragraph 24).
I have long believed that Mandatory Reporting is a bad idea.
That’s not because I don’t think that practitioners should always report their concerns - I do - but because I think it is counter-productive to punish them if they fail to do so. Almost invariably practitioners fail to report abuse and neglect because they fail to recognise it, not because they recognise it and would prefer to do nothing about it!
Blaming people for making the wrong decision breeds defensive practice and creates a climate of fear in which people are unable to discuss their mistakes openly. That makes practice less safe.