Duty to Report Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect

The provincial Child, Youth and Family Services Act (CYFSA) says that any person who performs professional or official duties for children, including health care professionals such as dentists, must promptly report to a children's aid society any suspicions that a child is or may be in need of protection. This is called a duty to report. 

Professionals should never hesitate to report suspected child abuse or neglect. It is your legal duty to report to a children’s aid society when you have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection. Examples of concerns include signs of:

  • neglect;
  • sexual abuse or exploitation;
  • physical harm; and
  • emotional harm. 

The CYFSA specifies that a person who acts in accordance with the duty to report is protected from liability, and that no action for making the report will be taken unless the person acts maliciously or without reasonable grounds for the suspicion.

Any professional, such as dentists, nurses, physicians, pharmacists or psychologists, who fails to report a suspicion of child abuse or neglect is liable upon conviction to a fine of up to $5,000 if this information is obtained in the course of their professional or official duties. Failure to comply with the duty to report required by the CYFSA may also constitute professional misconduct. 

Questions about your duty to report?

Dentists who have questions about their duty to report can contact the College's Practice Advisory Service for more information. Also consider obtaining legal advice to ensure you have met your obligations. 

Resources

Locating a children’s aid society
www.oacas.org  

Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect: It’s Your Duty brochure
Click here to download brochure

Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal
http://cwrp.ca/help#ontario

Yes, You Can. Dispelling the Myths About Sharing Information with Children’s Aid Societies
https://www.ipc.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/yes-you-can-e-web.pdf