We recently had a question at the Centre about what you should do if a minor discloses to you that they are experiencing abuse. This is a great question, because in Nova Scotia we actually have legislation that outlines what you should do, and in some cases, what you are legally obligated to do.
Under the Children and Family Services act, "Every individual in the province of Nova Scotia has a legal obligation to report concerns of abuse or neglect of a child under the age of 19 in order to ensure children are protected from harm. Failure to report is a criminal offence." This includes instances where information has been shared confidentially, or if abuse is suspected but has not been confirmed by a disclosure. Reports can be made anonymously.
Our friends at TESS (Trafficking and Exploitation Services System) have helpfully broken it down a bit further on their website, which we recommend you read here.
What constitutes abuse? The NS Family Law website says "Child abuse is a term that describes behaviour that results in significant negative emotional or physical consequences for a child." Abuse can take several forms including physical ("the intentional use of force on any part of a child's body that results in injury"), emotional ("anything that causes serious mental or emotional harm to a child, which the parent does not attempt to prevent or address"), sexual ("the improper exposure of a child to sexual contact, activity or behaviour") and neglect ("any lack of care that may cause significant harm to a child's development or endangers the child in any way").
Who do you report to? Child Protection Services. Call 1-877-424-1177 (weekdays, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm) or 1-866-922-2434 (weeknights 4:30 pm - 8:30 am, weekends and holidays)
What happens after you call? Child Protection Services will assess the information you provide and decide whether or not to investigate.
PO Box 821, 18 Dufferin Street Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, B0J 2C0
Second Story Women's Centre recognizes that we are on Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaw People. We honour the treaties that guide the relationships of our people.
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