Reporting of suspected abuse of children can be either on
a voluntary basis or mandatory by law. In terms of protecting children
against abuse, neither of these systems has proved to be more efficient
than the other. However, under-reporting represents a common challenge
for both, as many cases of child abuse, in particular sexual abuse,
remain hidden, either because they are undetected or because they
are detected but not reported.
With a view to increasing the reporting of suspected sexual
abuse of children, it is crucial to raise the general public’s awareness
of the issue via information campaigns. Professionals working with
children should be enabled to properly identify and assist child
victims of sexual abuse, throughout their training and professional life,
and be encouraged to set up reporting rules to follow when suspecting
child sexual abuse. Moreover, the reasons underlying decisions not
to report should be tackled by building trust in the child protection
system, through quick, effective and child-sensitive investigations.
Finally, legal protection should be provided for those who report
suspicions of child sexual abuse in good faith, including by limiting
the duty of confidentiality of professionals.