The problem is that an allegation made in an anonymous counselling session is very different to a disclosure made to a teacher or social worker. In a ChildLine counselling session, the focus is on supporting the child. By contrast, teachers and social workers are duty bound to report disclosures and the statement that the child produces constitutes evidence, which may be used in subsequent criminal proceedings.
Guidance for social workers and teachers highlights the need to collect accurate and complete information from the child, reporting only the words that the child has used and without using leading questions.
This creates an apparent paradox since my research suggests some children rely on an adult to help construct their disclosure precisely so they can produce complete information. While the evidential approach is designed to collect uncontaminated evidence, it potentially fails those children who need adults’ help to actually say the words.