When a child's life, health or emotional well being is put at risk by something a person does or fails to do, that child is in need of protection under The Child and Family Services Act.
When the action (or failure to act) causes a physical injury, could cause a permanent emotional disability or involves sexual activity, that is abuse.
How do I know if a child needs protection?
You don't have to know for sure. If, in your honest judgment, you believe that a child may not be safe, either because of the child's behaviour or someone else's, you need to report it.
Whether a child is safe depends on the child's age and ability to protect him or herself in the situation.
Children under 12 may not be left on their own or in the care of another child who is under 12.
What do I do if I suspect a child needs protection?
Let the child's parent or guardian know. If you don't know the parent or guardian or you suspect that they may be part of the problem, then you need to call a child and family services agency to report your concerns.
If you think that a child may be in immediate danger, call the police.
It is everyone's legal responsibility to protect children. If you fail to report a child in need of protection, you are committing a punishable offense.
What happens when I make a report?
When you report concerns, the child and family service agency will ask you questions. You don't have to give your name. Just describe the situation and why you feel the child is not safe. The agency must investigate all reports.
If you do give your name, you are not legally responsible for information provided in good faith. Your name remains confidential except where required by the court and you are protected from anyone harassing you for giving the information. You are also entitled to know what the agency decided at the end of its investigation, unless the agency feels that is not in the best interests of the child.
Are there special rules for professionals who work with children?
Professionals who work with children have the same duty to report as the general public. This duty applies even when the person learns information through work or within a confidential relationship such as a doctor-patient relationship. The only exception is the lawyer-client relationship.
There are also special safeguards and consequences for professionals who cause a child to be in need of protection or fail to report.
Manitoba Guidelines on Identifying and Reporting a Child in Need of Protection (Including Child Abuse)