7th meeting of the Network: contact parliamentarians and experts discussed the obligation to report suspected sexual violence against children

28.04.2012 - Mr Johannes Wilhelm Rörig, Independent Representative on questions of sexual abuse against children in Germany, explained to the parliamentarians that in Germany the question of a general obligation to report suspected sexual violence against children was deeply discussed but notinserted in the national legislation. He seized the opportunity to present the conclusions of the Round Table on Sexual Abuse of Children, organised in Berlin in 2010, where there were adopted guidelines for public institutions.

Ms Deirdre Clune, contact parliamentarian for Ireland, introduced to the participants two legislative bills in progress in Ireland on the topic of children’s rights. One of them, called “Children First”, is strongly pointed on the protection of children provided by report all the warning signs that could be indications of a sexual abuse.

Ms Catherine Bonnet, consultant in child and adolescent psychiatry in France and the United Kingdom, deeply explained the results of sexual violence that can be detected more on their effect on mental health and behaviors than on physical damages according to an American study (Adams J.1994). Moreover she talked about the delicate issue of the balanced relation between the obligation to report and the professional confidentiality of doctors and other professionals who face the problem of abused children. She argued: “obligation to report is a necessary but not a sufficient condition: it must be accompanied by a concrete legal protection of professionals against legal reprisals”. This is why it is fundamental to examine the children, to listen their disclosure as well as provide an obligation to report the suspected abuses, in the legislation with a legal protection of the professionals who report their suspicions in good faith.

Finally, the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Ms Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, presented all the results and prospects of the Council of Europe ONE on FIVE Campaign taking note of an increasing political commitment of the parliamentarians since the beginning of the campaign.