If you are thinking about whether to report a child’s situation to Youth Protection Services, the circumstances are probably serious enough to warrant that action. Before making a “signalement“, unless the situation is obviously urgent, you will want to have as much documentation, including agenda/communication book, record of absences, child’s physical condition, log of conversations with the family, etc.
What to look for and report:
- Physical evidence such as unexplained marks and bruises are important to note.
- If you suspect sexual abuse, make note of inappropriate behaviour of the child towards their peers and/or adults.
- In the case of neglect, document how this inhibits the child’s daily functioning. For instance, note whether the child frequently falls asleep on the desk, comes to school without lunch, or wears the same dirty clothes.
- Youth protection personnel may ask if you know of any outside support the family is receiving such as CLSC involvement and the like.
- Remember you are taking this action not just for the welfare of the child but for their family. Do not worry if you feel you do not have all the information/facts. Your call is important and while it may not be enough to warrant an investigation, it will be kept on file and may serve to support other calls regarding the family in the future.
Signalements can be handled in one of two ways:
- You can place the call with the parents. If the parent(s) agree(s), this will have the best outcome, and you will be involved in the intake process.
- You and other school personnel can anonymously call Youth Protection, unbeknownst to the family. You will not receive feedback from Youth Protection services regarding the outcome.