As a teacher, physician, or policeman you may encounter signs of possible domestic violence. A step-by-step plan has been developed so such cases can be reported properly.
A suitable reporting process is not only useful to professionals but also protects the people about whom the report is submitted.
Step-by-step plan for reporting
In the Caribbean Netherlands, there is no specific legislation concerning domestic violence. As a result, professionals who want to report signs and suspicions will first require approval from the client system. In the Caribbean Netherlands, professionals are only allowed to report signs and suspicions once they have obtained approval to do so. The only exceptions to this rule are the police, the Guardianship Council, and school attendance officers. They can submit reports without prior approval.
If approval is not granted, professionals can start the step-by-step reporting plan, which involves using a careful evaluation framework and including clear safeguards in the dossier. This has to be done carefully and with complete openness toward the client. Careful reporting is based on five steps.
Step-by-step plan for reporting domestic violence and child abuse
When identifying and registering signs of domestic violence and child abuse, it is important for professionals to concentrate on the facts; on what they see, hear or otherwise observe.
It should be noted that professionals must also register facts that contradict their suspicions of violence.
Professionals should consult a colleague or someone at the Guiami Hotline in order to correctly interpret the signs, perform a risk assessment, and prepare for the interview with the client. Professionals must ask advice based on anonymous client details, unless they are seeking advice from a colleague who is involved in the same treatment or assistance offered to the client, or unless they have obtained the client’s approval for the consultation.
A report can only be made with due care if it follows an interview with the client. This openness is a legal obligation but is also an important basic principle for professionals in their contact with clients, because this is the only way for them to retain the client’s confidence in the long term.
In this interview with the client:
- professionals must describe the signs as well as their concerns;
- they must invite the client to respond to this information;
- they must explain why they believe reporting is necessary and what this entails.
It should be noted that the interview with the client can only be waived if the professional has concrete indications that contact with the client may lead to an unsafe situation for the client, the client’s family, or the professional himself/herself. Advice in this regard can be requested in step 2.
The need for approval applies to most providers of care and assistance (except the police, the Guardianship Council, and school attendance officers). These providers must follow step 4 of the step-by-step plan. Because reporting involves sharing information, these professionals must obtain approval before making the report. Therefore, they should try to obtain approval for the report during their interview with the client.
Eventually, professionals must decide whether a report is necessary to stop the domestic violence or child abuse.
Contents of the report:
- The facts that justify the report;
- The client’s reaction to these facts;
- Whether or not the client has given his or her approval for the report;
- If there has no contact with the client, why this was not possible;
- What the reporting individual expects to achieve with the report.
It should be noted that professionals must inform the client about the report if they have not yet done so. Once again, it is only possible to avoid informing the client if there are clear indications that this may lead to specific risks to the safety of the client, the client’s family, or the professional. There may be signs, for instance, that the client may become even more violent towards the victim if she/he hears that the victim has spoken with aid providers or if the professional fears, on the basis of past experiences, that the client may use violence against him or her.
It should be noted that if an interview with the client is not possible for safety reasons, or if the professional does not obtain approval, the professional must consider whether, even if no approval has been granted, he or she should report the case to protect his or her client or the client’s family, and to ensure suitable assistance.
The evaluation framework in the step-by-step reporting plan
The evaluation framework in step 5 of the step-by-step plan for domestic violence and child abuse supports professionals who suspect domestic violence and/or child abuse. This involves deciding whether reporting is necessary and whether the professional can personally help to organise the required assistance.