Niall McElwee


The last year of the previous Millennium saw the publication of the latest government document on mandatory reporting of child abuse titled the National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. This issue has come to dominate the minds of social care workers and child protection and welfare professionals. This editorial is an edited version of research conducted for a conference on child abuse and sexual offences held in Waterford, Ireland. Mandatory reporting has become a mantra and is now part of a highly politicised debate in this country. It seems to me that mandatory reporting should not be seen as a cure for child abuse but is, in principle, something to which I subscribe. Nonetheless: we require a fundamental shift in the way we understand childhood and treat children in this country if it has any chance of being effective. We also need more accurate and consistent statistics covering a wide range of data on child abuse, the victims of child abuse and the perpetrators of child abuse.