Section 27 of Reg 437/97 concerning professional misconduct in the Ontario College of Teachers Act defines "failing to comply with the member's duties under the Child and Family Services Act" as professional misconduct. At least one complaint has already been filed with the College under this section.
Teachers, principals and educational workers alike should remember their duty to report under Section 68 of the Child and Family Services Act. This section reads as follows:
68 (1) In this section and in sections 69, 70 and 71, "to suffer abuse," when used in reference to a child, means to be in need of protection within the meaning of clause 37 (2) (a), (c), (e), (f) or (h). (see below)
68 (2) A person who believes on reasonable grounds that a child is or may be in need of protection shall forthwith report the belief and the information upon which it is based to a society.
68 (3) Despite the provisions of any other Act, a person referred to in subsection (4) who, in the course of his or her professional or official duties, has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be suffering or may have suffered abuse shall forthwith report the suspicion and the information on which it is based to a society.
68 (4) Subsection (3) applies to every person who performs professional or official duties with respect to a child, including,
a. a health care professional, including a physician, nurse, dentist, pharmacist and psychologist;
b. a teacher, school principal, social worker, family counsellor, priest, rabbi, clergyman, operator or employee of a day nursery and youth and recreation worker.
Clause 37 - "(2) A child is in need of protection where
(a) the child has suffered physical harm, inflicted by the person having charge of the child or caused by that person's failure to care and provide for or supervise and protect the child adequately;
(b) the child has been sexually molested or sexually exploited, by the person having charge of the child or by another person where the person having charge of the child knows or should know of the possibility of sexual molestation or sexual exploitation and fails to protect the child;
(c) the child requires medical treatment to cure, prevent or alleviate physical harm or suffering and the child's parent or the person having charge of the child does not provide, or refuses or is unavailable or unable to consent to, the treatment;
(d) the child has suffered emotional harm, demonstrated by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal; or
(e) the child suffers from a mental, emotional or developmental condition that, if not remedied, could seriously impair the child's development and the child's parent or person having charge of the child does not provide, or refuses or is unavailable or unable to consent to, treatment to remedy or alleviate the condition."
For OSSTF members, the dilemma often is trying to decide whether you have "reasonable grounds" to believe that a child (defined as a person under 18 years old) is in need of protection. It is always a good idea, if you are unsure, to consult OSSTF Provincial Office for advice.
Another dilemma faces members who are required to make a report on another member. In these cases, your duty to report under the Child and Family Services Act takes precedence over your duty to your colleague.
Members should be aware that simply reporting to a supervisor may not satisfy the duty to report under Section 68(2), because the supervisor may not pass on the information to the Children's Aid Society. Talk it over with your supervisor to decide what action must be taken.