18 Sep 2011

Hotline set up for teachers to report child abuse

5:51 pm on 18 September 2011

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced measures to make it easier for teachers to report child abuse and get a faster response from Child, Youth & Family.

Ms Bennett says Child, Youth & Family (CYF) needs to strengthen its reporting process and the prioritising of cases.

The Ministry of Social Development says there is not enough follow-up of child abuse reporting by teachers.

Teachers come third after police and health professionals as the people most likely to report child abuse.

Ms Bennett says out of a total 150,747 notifications to CYF of possible abuse or neglect in the past year, about 8300 came from teachers and social workers in schools. Three-quarters of those notifications required further action.

She says teachers should get a rapid response when they have genuine concerns about a child's welfare.

"But I'm concerned that that's not across the board, so now we have a direct phone line that they can use."

She says the phone line will go both ways.

"So when Child, Youth and Family are looking for extra information from teachers they can go back to them through that."

Ms Bennett says the new package will also include an online contact team, and timely feedback from CYF to schools. She expects the phone line will encourage more reporting of child abuse.