14 Aug 2012

Cautious approach to mandatory reporting favoured

4:47 pm on 14 August 2012

The Government has been urged to take a cautious approach to the possible introduction of mandatory reporting of child abuse.

A summary of nearly 10,000 submissions made on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children was released on Tuesday and a final report will be ready in October.

The summary says a small number of submissions addressed mandatory reporting of child abuse, with support slightly higher than opposition.

Those supporting it said it should be implemented with care, and would be beneficial only if agencies were adequately resourced to follow up all reports.

Submissions opposed to mandatory reporting argue it is unfeasible and may put people off seeking help.

The targeting of funding and tailored services to help vulnerable children is strongly supported in the submissions.

The summary says most of them argued that, while all children need to have basic needs met by universal services, vulnerable children should receive additional services.

Minister not surprised opinion split

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is not surprised at the split in opinion that's emerged on the mandatory reporting of child abuse.

Mrs Bennett describes the split as fifty-fifty, and says there are strong arguments on both sides.

She says the Government's position on mandatory reporting will be in the final White Paper which will be released in October.

The Labour Party says the Government needs to broaden the focus of its plan to protect vulnerable children.

Social development spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says submitters want more of a focus on early intervention and the prevention of abuse.

However, Ms Bennett is defending the scope of the review which she says did include the issue of child poverty.