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What should I do if I think a child is being abused or neglected?

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What should I do if I think a child is being abused or neglected?
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Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services
Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services
Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies

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What should I do if I think a child is being abused or neglected?
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Reviewed: 
October 31, 2018
Answer

If you think a child is being abused or neglected, you must contact the Children's Aid Society (CAS). You have to do this if the child is or seems to be under 16. If the child is 16 or 17, you can choose to report your concerns to CAS, but you don't have to.

CAS has a legal duty to look into every report they get where it appears that a child is at risk of being harmed or is being harmed.

Types of harm

Harm includes situations where a child is being abused or neglected. Abuse can be physical, sexual, or emotional. Neglect is when a child's basic needs for things like food, shelter, sleep, or clothing are not being met.

Duty to report

You don't have to find out if the harm actually happened. But if you have good reason to believe that a child under 16 has been harmed or might be harmed, you must tell CAS. This is sometimes called the duty to report. This duty applies to family, friends, and neighbours.

Some people who work with children can be charged with a crime if they don't report these situations to CAS. This includes teachers, doctors, nurses, daycare workers, family counsellors, social workers, and religious leaders. They can be fined up to $5,000 if they don't report these situations.

The police also have to contact CAS if they think a child has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed.

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