HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government will gazette the Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse Bill on Friday.
The bill makes it obligatory for mandated reporters to report if there is reason to suspect a case of child abuse or a risk of a child suffering serious harm.
“To protect children, the Chief Executive announced in the 2022 Policy Address that we would take forward at full steam the setting up of a mandatory reporting regime for child abuse cases and provide training for relevant practitioners to facilitate their early identification and reporting of child abuse cases," said a spokesman for the Labour and Welfare Bureau.
The bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council for first and second readings on June 14.
The maximum penalty for non-compliance is three months' imprisonment and a fine of HK$50,000
Defining a child as a person under the age of 18, the bill specifies professional practitioners in the social welfare, education and healthcare sectors as mandated reporters.
“They must make a report as soon as practicable if there is a reasonable ground to suspect that a child has been suffering or is at real risk of suffering serious harm,” reads a government statement.
The maximum penalty for non-compliance is three months' imprisonment and a fine of HK$50,000.
The bill will also provide a statutory defense and legal protection for mandated reporters.
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“To dovetail with the commencement of the ordinance, the government will provide training for mandated reporters and draw up a practice guide to assist them in identifying target cases for early identification, reporting and intervention, as well as reducing over-reporting,” the statement reads.
The government will also increase the number of residential childcare places to provide emergency placement when necessary, and enhance public education and publicity activities to raise public awareness of child protection.
With a view to seeking the LegCo's support and passage of the bill, the government would fully complement the work of the LegCo in scrutinizing it, added the spokesman.
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