(Today's posting is a mild mannered statement of facts. If you take issue or have experience that contradicts the way the ACT should be practiced, write a comment. And while you are at it, read the comment by Anonyous attached to yesterday's blog.)
Children are protected by law in British Columbia, a law called Child, Family and Community Service Act.
Under this law parents must keep their children safe, get them medical care when necessary, provide for their physical and emotional needs as well as protect them from abuse whether it is physical, emotional and sexual, and must also not neglect or abandon a child.
Abuse of a child may be physical, sexual or emotional. Physical abuse is any action that hurts a child and perhaps leaves a mark, and could be generated by shaking or striking. It might even be extreme punishment such as isolation or withholding food, water and toilet privileges. Contrary to a familiar opinion, it is not illegal to spank your children but it must always be kept in mind that someone may report if you do spank. Sexual abuse is not specific and is any sexual act between a child and an adult. It can also involve threatening to have sex with a child. An adult cannot legally compel a child to look at pornography or view sexual movies, or make sexual photographs or videos of a child, or permit other people to have sex with a child. Emotional abuse occurs by ignoring a child, criticizing, and shouting at a child consequently making the child to feel despondent, anxious, isolated or wanting to be self destructive. It must be noted that if a child resides in a house where the parents hurt one another, that too may be cause for intervention by the Ministry.
Neglect results from not giving a child enough food, a safe living facility, apparel and medical care. Neglect might also occur by driving a vehicle while drunk and with a child aboard, or leaving a child with a person who is too inebriated or strung out to care adequately for the child. Neglect can also involve permitting a child to use alcohol or drugs. Leaving a child alone in a car or a house may also qualify as neglect.
In British Columbia, the law requires that anyone who believes a child is being abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused or neglected, must report this to the Ministry. Serious penalty can be imposed upon people who knowingly ignore reporting abuse or abandonment. For that reason, doctors, teachers, religious leaders, family members and friends and anyone else is obligated to report. The Ministry must consider the possibility that a report is erroneous. The Ministry may not divulge the name of any person making a confidential report.
The Ministry employs social workers to investigate such reports soon after receiving them. The Ministry engages Legal counsel who contend for the Ministry in Court.
Parents’ Rights, Kids Rights / A Parent’s Guide to Child Protection Law in B.C.