Reporting an Abuse

In the Philippines, a report of child abuse to authorities must be made within 48 hours after there is reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse.  All reports or other actions must be kept confidential.      The report should be made prior to contacting the child’s family. It is the responsibility of the government social worker to notify the family of the referral, unless assistance in doing so is requested.

Each incidence of possible abuse should constitute a separate referral.  Even if you have made a referral on a child to the proper authorities previously, if there is a new incident or injury, you need to report it again.

When making a report to the authorities you should include as much of the following information as available:

  • Child’s name, address, birth date and gender;
  • Parent’s name, address, home phone (if possible) and work places;
  • Nature and extent of the suspected abuse;
  • Information on previous injuries or background data; and
  • Identity of alleged abuser (if known).

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I continue to work with a parent after making a referral?
    It is important to convey to the parent that you are mandated by law to report any injury that is non-accidental. However, in doing so you are making no judgment or assumption of abuse. This can help defuse a parent’s reaction, as parents that feel judged or accused by a teacher/counselor or school/center tend to withdraw or stay angry.  Your own attitude of acceptance of the reality of the reporting law, and your willingness to demonstrate that referral will not mean that you treat the parent any differently, is important.  They may need assurance from you that this is the case.  When parents maintain anger and resentment, you may need to remind yourself that in choosing between the safety of the child or the good will of the parents, your choice speaks for itself.
  2. Will making a referral really help the child or will s/he just be in more trouble with his/her family?
    Early intervention in abusive situations is important in lessening the damage to the child. This is likewise to disrupt a pattern of recurrence and gravity of the situation in a family.   If a member of the family is mistreating a child, there are usually multiple factors contributing to this situation.  Addressing those family needs can make a difference to all the members of the family.  Intervention by the authorities is both child-focused and family oriented.  Remember that making a report may not help the child, but it is certain that making NO report will DEFINITELY NOT help the child.
  3. How will I know the outcome of a referral I make to the authorities?
    As the referent, you may call and check on the status of the case.  The social worker can share with you information that is not confidential.
  4. May I make a report and have my name kept anonymous?
    The authorities will ask that you not request anonymity in making a report unless there are unusual or extenuating circumstances.  In most cases, the specific information the educator/counselor possesses is needed to make a specific complaint. If court testimony is involved, the reporter’s identity will need to be disclosed.  However, the authorities will keep reporting names confidential and keep your identity safe unless required by law.
  5. Is there a presumption of good faith when one reports a case of child abuse?
    Yes.  A person who, acting in good faith, reports a case of child abuse shall be free from any civil or administrative liability arising thereof. There is a presumption that the person acted in good faith.
  6. When will protective custody take place?
    If the investigation discloses sexual abuse, the duly authorized officer or the government social worker shall immediately remove the child from his/her home or the establishment where s/he was found and place her/him under protective custody to ensure the child’s safety.
  7. When should the authorities ask for suspension/deprivation of parental authority?
    The authorities shall ask the court to suspend the parental authority of the parent or legal guardian when such parent/legal guardian has sexually abused the victim. The request should be for permanent deprivation of the offending parent of legal guardian.
  8. Who will be the parental authority of the victim?
    The child/victim should be placed under the care of a relative.  Should there be no competent relative to assume substitute parental authority, the child should be placed under the care and custody of the social authorities or a duly accredited children’s home, orphanage, or similar institution.
  9. Who may file a complaint of child sexual abuse?
    The following may file a complaint:

    • The offended party;
    • The parent or legal guardian of the offended party;
    • An ascendant or collateral relative of the child within the 3rd civil degree of consanguinity;
    • A duly authorized officer of social worker;
    • An officer, a social worker, or a representative of a licensed child-caring institution;
    • The barangay chairman; or
    • At least 3 concerned citizens of the community where the abuse took place who have personal knowledge of the offense committed.
  10. What are the documents to be submitted in filing a criminal case?
    The sworn statement of the child and that of his/her witnesses, the birth certificate of the child, results of the physical/mental examination and/or medical treatment, and other relevant evidence.
  11. Is publicity of a case involving a child punishable under law?
    All records pertaining to cases of sexual abuse shall be strictly confidential and no information relating thereto may be disclosed, except in connection with any court of official proceeding based thereon.
  12. What is the Support Team and How it Can Help You?
    A Support Team or other form of Multidisciplinary Teams may exist in your community or local school area, consisting of local professionals including social workers, psychologists, lawyers, police and educators who have been trained in child sexual abuse.  The purpose of this team is to support you in determining how, when, and whom to report, follow-up cases that have been reported, and support the present child protection authority system.

Read more about Reporting Child Abuse:

Reporting Child Abuse
by Darkness to Light, United States

Do you know where you would go to get help if your child was sexually abused? Do you know what agencies would be involved, or whether you would need to call the police? Finding out these answers ahead of time can make a tremendous difference in how your child’s case is handled if he ever is sexually abused. Go to page

Report Child Abuse
Bantay Bata, ABS CBN Broadcast Network, Philippines

This site contains an online reporting form for cases of child abuse in the Philippines.  Go to page