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Reporting Child Abuse

Introduction

Any person who has knowledge of, or a suspicion that, a child is suffering harm or is at risk of significant harm from abuse or neglect should inform the Child Protector (Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat, JKM, officer “Pelindung”) report to the police or send the child to your nearest hospital . Should you wish to remain anonymous, you can call the Child Abuse Hotline – Talian Nur – call 15999.

What to Report?

The report should contain the following information :

  • Name of child
  • Location/Address
  • Reason for suspicion
  • Your name and contact, if possible, so that JKM can contact you if the child cannot be found

How to Report Child Abuse?

Via the Talian Nur hotline, please give details of suspicion of abuse or neglect so that the JKM officer can assess the urgency of the situation and take appropriate and timely action.

Via hospital, the person who brings the child to hospital should mention at the Emergency Department/ Outpatient Department that the child may have been abused so that the child and carer will be directly sent to the One Stop Crisis Center in the hospital.

Via police, this is preferable for suspected sexual abuse as it will enable the doctor to conduct an immediate physical examination for fresh cases of suspected sexual abuse

Who should Report Child Abuse?

Mandated reporters
Under the Malaysian law, Child Act 2001, doctors, members of the family and child care providers are mandated to immediately report children suspected to be physically or emotionally injured as a result of being ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed, or is sexually abused to the Protector Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat (Social Welfare Department) which takes on the role of a protector.

Should doctors, members of the family and child care providers not comply with the reporting they can be liable to a fine not exceeding RM5000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both (Child Act 2001, Section 27-29).

Teachers, counselors and the general public should also report child abuse should the child divulge the abuse to them even though they are not mandated to do so. They can make report to the police.

Why some hesitate to Report Abuse?

  • You may not be aware of the important role you have in preventing further abuse and reducing the long term effects of abuse
  • You do not know how and where to report
  • You do not want to go to Court as a witness as it will take much of your time
  • You feel it is “none of your business”
  • You are not sure whether it is abuse
  • You worry about being sued by the parent(s) for alleging abuse

Why is it important to Report Child Abuse?

  • Children are vulnerable and unable to seek help especially if they come from an abusive home.
  • If there is a risk to the life of a child or a likelihood of serious injury, the childs immediate safety must be ensured
  • Although there may not be many physical signs of being beaten the child is likely to develop low self esteem or aggressiveness or hyperactivity consequent to physical abuse needs help.
  • If the abuse or neglect continues for a longer period, the adverse outcome to the child will be far worse. Children should be brought up in a caring environment to ensure optimum mental, physical, emotional and psychosocial development
  • Child abuse has been found to be a major cause of future social, mental and physical health problems.
  • Reporting does not necessarily mean that the child will be taken away from the family. It ensures that the family comes into contact with agencies which can protect the child and most likely help the family in distress. If the child is severely abused and it is not safe to send the child back to the family, then if possible, a suitable family member can be given guardianship of the child by the Court.
  • Reporting child abuse especially sexual abuse will give an opportunity for an adolescent sexual abuser to receive counseling and rehabilitation.
  • Under the law, anyone who reports child abuse in good faith child abuse cannot be charged for reporting child abus.

What happens after Reporting?

  • The Protector and Police will investigate the report of child abuse by going to see the child and family. Either party will bring the child to hospital for further evaluation if the suspicion is confirmed.
  • The initial goal is to protect the child and ensure his/her life is not in danger.
  • In the hospital, the child and family will be assessed and the child examined for any injuries or mental health problems.
  • If child abuse is confirmed, there will be discussions between the doctor, welfare, police and non-perpetrator parent(s) as to the management plan for the child.
  • The management plan for the child should be in the best interest of the child and not the family or parents.
  • The general goal is to send the child back to the family with continued supervision and family therapy.
  • Social stressors like lack of a suitable home, unemployment, lack of suitable child care can also be looked into by the JKM.
  • The police may take the alleged perpetrator into custody and charge him/her accordingly.

Medical treatment

  • Treatment of physical injuries such as fractures
  • Prophylaxis or treatment of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Family therapy or counseling
  • Mental health therapy for the abused child
  • Mental health therapy for the abusive parent or adolescent
Last reviewed : 27 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Irene Cheah Guat Sim
Reviewer : Dr. Irene Cheah Guat Sim