Hilary Rodham Clinton declared that “every child needs a champion.” And so often, that champion is a caring, astute and committed health care professional, like a nurse. Nurses have a unique and important role in our health system when connecting with families in crisis.

Being aware of your legal obligations and the important role you play in the lives of children is a profoundly important professional responsibility. In June of this year, the Ministry of Children and Family Development updated legislation to require the reporting of domestic violence when witnessed by children. The ministry updated its handbook Responding to Child Welfare Concerns: Your Role in Knowing When and What to Report. Familiarizing yourself with the handbook is important, but equally so is knowing what the changes mean to your practice.

If you have reason to believe a child is (or is likely to be at risk of) being abused or neglected, you have a legal obligation to report your concern to your local child welfare worker. The quickest way to report a concern to a child welfare workers is to call the Helpline for Children any time of the day or night. The person who answers will make sure all concerns are directed appropriately. The Helpline for Children is 310-1234. An area code is not required.

There are also supports available through the Helpline for Children, visit ministry of children and family development’s website; and you can read the BC Handbook for Action on Child Abuse and Neglect for Service Providers.

I also encourage you to review our latest case study that considers the challenge that many health care professionals face— knowing the signs, and then when and how to act when you witness a child in need of a champion.