Mandatory Reporting Of Abuse

Sir, - Your Social Services Correspondent Paraig O'Morain (The Irish Times, April 20th) inaccurately described the task of the…

Sir, - Your Social Services Correspondent Paraig O'Morain (The Irish Times, April 20th) inaccurately described the task of the working party set up by the Department of Health to review the Child Abuse Guidelines.

As the name of the group suggests, the central task is to review the current child abuse guidelines, not to devise a system of mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse.

The Irish Association of Social Workers welcomes the commitment of the Department of Health to review, update and improve the existing child abuse guidelines. As a member of the working party, I am privileged to bring the views and expertise of front-line social workers to this important task. Throughout the debate on mandatory reporting, the Irish Association of Social Workers has expressed a strong view that mandatory reporting is not the best and most effective way to protect vulnerable Irish children. The cornerstones of good child-care practice are professional judgement and responsible, informed reporting.

Experience in other countries has shown that a legal obligation to report child abuse creates a system dominated by fear and one which is swamped with vague, ill-informed reports.

I would therefore like to clearly put on record that as a member of the group, I am working to review the current child abuse guidelines and not to devise a system of mandatory reporting. - Yours, etc., Bernie Price

PRO, Irish Association of Social Workers, Pearse Street, Dublin 2.