Responding to violence

Some professionals such as doctors and nurses may be legally obliged to report suspected child abuse. It is essential that you find out what your own responsibilities are within your specific role as a health worker. If you have studied Module 2 you will already have found out this information. If not you need to know:

  • Is there a procedure for reporting?
  • Is there a child protection committee?
  • Which other colleagues can you consult with?
  • Are there other appropriate services or people in the community who should be consulted?

If you believe there are signs of violence and abuse to a child then any response you make should prioritise the child’s safety and well-being. In a situation where a child is in immediate physical danger then your response should be equally immediate in acting to separate the child from the situation.

You should respond sympathetically and listen to what the child is saying. Do this sensitively and with respect for the child’s or young person’s need for privacy and confidentiality. They may have important information that may help decide what happens next. It may be appropriate to talk to the parent or parents, but only if you believe it will not jeopardise the safety of the child or young person. In most cases it is logical to gather information and facts according to what you know and have observed.

Ultimately the action that you take will be dependent on the many variables and the practical options that are available to you, but it should always be driven by the child’s right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally.

3.7 Responding to violence

A proactive approach to violence