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Sunday, October 24, 2021

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Should I report to child protection?

Steinunn Anna Sigurjónsdóttir writes

98 this year was dedicated to the safety and well-being of children and young people. Have you ever worried about a child’s well-being? What did you do in the case? Have you read about what is notifiable for child protection?

Recently I noticed a lot of excitement in a discussion group in a large Facebook group. The reason was that someone had reported the mother to child protection after she published a picture of her child in the group to seek advice with certain symptoms that were seen in the picture. The mother was very hurt that she had been reported for the film and it seemed to me that most of the comments were about defending this mother and crucifying the person who had reported the act. That someone should THINK to report to child protection for something that was OBVIOUSLY not harmful to the child.

I would like to discuss this reaction when reporting to child protection, in a larger context.

Sometimes we feel it is obvious that child protection needs to be reported. For example, if we come across an alcoholic parent at home with small children or if a child shows up with a big bruise on his eye and says that his mother has stabbed herself. I have still heard of similar incidents where no one sent a report to child protection.

But rather look at the incidents where suspicion arises that something may be wrong with a child’s situation or behavior, but we are not sure. What if a child repeatedly arrives late for school, sometimes does not have a packed lunch, has difficulty reading at home, and is often ill-dressed in the outdoors? What if you see a father lose control of his temper with a child in Kringlan and grab it by the arm? Is this notifiable? Is this an exception or a rule? Are conditions even worse at home? What to do? Announce? Talk to the parent? Or just wait and see?

Child protection notifications are more often than not about uncertainty, as they are notifications about

suspicion , not accusations in court. You know that there is uncertainty and ask that it will be examined whether there is a reason for intervention. You should not try to resolve this uncertainty or wait for it to resolve before you report it. Child Welfare is the surveyor, not you. When we are unsure whether to report, there is a reason to report. It is the uncertainty that you are reporting, nothing else.

If you are afraid of being crucified for reporting a child’s situation, remember this; for each adult you avoid the inconvenience of receiving a letter from a child welfare officer unjustifiably, when a child who needed child welfare intervention but does not receive assistance because no one thought he was enough certain to report.

Therefore, I would like to appeal to parents who are reported to child welfare without cause do not get angry and start blaming the cause or the person who reported it, but remember that in order to catch as many children as possible, some parents will inevitably be notified because of something that does not prove to be necessary. Child protection is not the old hailstone that some older generations have experienced, thankfully. I have worked in a school office, health care and psychology office with children and parents for eleven years and have met many families who enjoy the help and support of child protection. Stop censoring child protection or view reporting as a condemnation.

Childhood is precious and fragile, it lays the foundation for our entire future. We adults should fence ourselves in and report suspicion / uncertainty, ALWAYS . We are not surveyors, we should not know if there is a reason to report, that is the role of child protection.

The author is a psychologist and manager at the Little Anxiety Treatment Center.


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