Mandatory Reporting  

What is it?  

We all share a responsibility to protect children from harm. In Alberta, the Child, Youth, and Family Enhancement Act states that anyone with “reasonable or probable grounds” to believe that a child is in need of intervention must report it. This includes children experiencing physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect, maltreatment, or a risk of harm. Anyone who fails in their duty to do so can be fined up to $2000 or jailed for up to six months (Alberta Child, Youth, and Family Enhancement Act).  

Who is responsible for reporting a child in need of protection? 

Anyone who has reasonable grounds to suspect that the child is or may be in need of intervention, is required to promptly report the suspicion. This is inclusive of anyone under the age of 18. 

You cannot rely on someone else to report on your behalf. You must report directly to a reporting society.  

What to do if you suspect, or if a child discloses sexual abuse 

Act on these suspicions quickly, do not wait for days or weeks. You do not need to have all the details, that is the investigators job. Keep the child’s best interests in mind, even if that’s protecting them from returning to an abusive situation. Write down your suspicions and the details regarding the abuse. If the child discloses abuse, reassure them that disclosing was the right thing to do, they are not in trouble, and you believe them. Report this situation to your local children services, or the 24/7 Alberta Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-387-5437 (KIDS).   

You will be connected with a caseworker, who will gather information to help understand the child, situation, and what supports are needed. Remember, it is okay to call even if you don’t have all the information that you think you need. They may ask questions to determine if the child is in need of supports or intervention. Questions like how you know the child or family, information on the child, information on the perpetrator and their relationship. You can choose to report anonymously or give your name and telephone number. Following this initial call, you may be asked follow-up or clarifying questions, however, your identity will not be shared with anyone.  

If you or the child is in immediate danger you can call 9-1-1. 

What are “Reasonable Grounds”?  

You do not have to be certain that the child is or may be in need of intervention to report. Instead, reasonable grounds refer to the information that would have an average person, using normal and honest judgement, decide to make the report.  

This can be a disclosure of abuse, signs or indicators of abuse, or an overall gut feeling that something is wrong with the child.  

How to Recognize Child Sexual Abuse  

There is no single indicator of child sexual abuse, however, children can display an array of indicators that are reasonable grounds for reporting or investigations. Such as inappropriate or advanced sexual knowledge for their age, injuries or rashes to their genitals, being withdrawn or anxious, regressive behaviors, or sudden unexplained fears of certain people or places.  

Individuals process traumatic experiences like sexual abuse differently, therefore, their responses to the experience may be different as well. Children often have multiple barriers preventing them from disclosing their abuse. Making it even more important to be perceptive and have open conversations with them.  

What if I’m wrong?  

If the report was not made with malicious intent, there are no negative repercussions to the reporter. In fact, the only negative repercussions that a non-malicious reporter faces is if they do not report at all.  


If you have additional questions or concerns at any point during the reporting process, you can contact Dragonfly Centre Sexual Violence Services through 1-866-300-HEAL or our online Izzy chat at