Keir Starmer, until recently Director of Public Prosecutions, wants the law to be changed to force teachers to report all suspicions of child sexual abuse – or face criminal prosecution.
Mr. Starmer said that, although many professions already have guidelines requiring them to alert the appropriate authorities about suspicions of child sexual abuse, there is a gap in UK legislation and he wants a new mandatory reporting law to plug this, BBC reports.
The leading lawyer said that a criminal penalty would “focus people’s minds” and that the punishment for failing to report abuse could be a short jail sentence or a fine. “There are just too many cases where those who have suspected abuse have not really done anything about it and the perpetrator has either got away with it or, worse still, been able to perpetuate the offending.”
Several victims of child abuse supported the call, as did the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, which have been accused of covering up abuse in the past. However, the government has no plans to change the law, with the DfE stating that: “Other countries have tried mandatory reporting and there is no evidence to show that it is a better system for protecting children.”
Dame Clare Tickell, from the charity Action for Children, said that reporting of child abuse was on the rise, but a “huge issue” is that “teachers and people across the system are not sufficiently trained to see those early signs of abuse”.
What do you think of the change in the law that Mr. Starmer is calling for? Have you had sufficient training to spot the early signs of abuse?