1.11 The right to protection versus the right to privacy
Should a child’s right to protection from violence, abuse or neglect override their right to privacy and confidentiality? If so, when?
All rights are inter-dependent. However, at times there can be a tension between different rights. For example, it may be the case that in order to protect a child from serious risk of abuse, it is necessary to override their right to privacy. Depending on the laws and regulations in your country, health care professionals may have an obligation to report cases of abuse and neglect, even where the child is adamant that he or she does not want the information to be taken further. In such circumstances, it is important to be clear with the child about the boundaries of confidentiality, what the law says, and to involve the child as far as possible in deciding how and when the information will be reported. It is important to remember that violence and abuse of children disempowers them. The strategies adopted to protect them should not further disempower them. Any action must take account of the child’s individual circumstances and contexts. A ‘one size fits all’ approach should never be adopted.