Required to Report: Why we need Mandatory Reporting

It’s great to have been part of budding journalist Megan Hinton’s new radio documentary ‘Required to Report’, which explores the subject of Mandatory Reporting.

Mandatory Reporting calls for the introduction of new laws that many survivors of childhood sexual abuse, including myself, could have benefited from.

When Megan was 14, she was tricked into sending a naked selfie to, what she believed at the time was, a boy in the year above her.

To her horror, she found out that this was in fact a girl in her own year group, who shared the picture with other pupils.

Megan had already left a previous school over bullying and found history repeating itself, with pupils making her life a living hell, yet teachers at her school failed to take her complaints about their behaviour seriously.

Since that time, Megan has campaigned to raise awareness around a number of issues that have affected her and other vulnerable youngsters, including ‘sexting’.

When she asked me to take part in her latest project, a documentary on the debate around Mandatory Reporting in the UK, I was happy to get involved.

Mandatory Reporting laws would make it compulsory for staff who work in ‘regulated activities’ – including teachers, healthcare professionals and other responsible adults – to report known or suspected abuse of children to the local authority.

Most people, including myself until relatively recently, assume that these kinds of laws already exist, but the crucial decision over whether to report sexual and physical abuse, or neglect, is left down to the individual.

Despite the courage of some whistle-blowers who have come forward over the years, subsequent failures in institutional settings have made it apparent that, when left to the individual, failures happen all too often.

Mandatory Reporting would put in place a structured process for reporting suspicions or knowledge of abuse taking place, so that the decision is taken out of the hands of members of staff.

More importantly, it offers them legal protection from any potential ramifications of passing on what they know.