Mandated reporting is still a policy with reason: empirical evidence and philosophical grounds.

School of Law, Queensland University of Technology, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia.
Child Abuse & Neglect (Impact Factor: 2.47). 06/2008; 32(5):511-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2007.06.010
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A major criticism of mandated reporting laws is that they produce many unsubstantiated reports, increasing workload for child protective services, wasting resources, and reducing the quality of service given to known deserving children and families (Ainsworth, 2002). Some critics go further: Melton (2005) claimed mandated reporting is now "a policy without reason". Melton stated "the primary problem is no longer case-finding" (2005, p. 10), and argued that "common sense and empirical research" show mandated reporting is "a bankrupt policy" (2005, p. 15). Further, Melton proposed that jurisdictions with these laws should revise their systems “to facilitate voluntary assistance to children and families—to create or sustain the norms of caring that prevent harm to children” (2005, p. 15), and urged countries without a US-type system to adopt another model. However, we argue that without a system of mandated reporting, a society will be far less able to protect children and assist parents and families, because many cases of abuse and neglect will not come to the attention of authorities and helping agencies. We accept that mandated reporting schemes are imperfect. But, using child safety as the primary concern, and drawing on evidence from several nations, we argue that a child protection system needs a form of case identification beyond voluntary help-seeking; that mandated reporting produces a large number of substantiated reports and to sacrifice this compromises child protection; that the most serious problems in systems having mandated reporting appear to lie not with the reports, but with responses; and that the economic and social justice advantages of mandated reporting far outweigh any disadvantages.

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    ABSTRACT: The effects of universal mandated reporting laws on child maltreatment reporting rates have not been systematically evaluated. To better understand the effects of universal reporting, the objectives of the present study are: (1) to evaluate the relationship of total and confirmed child maltreatment report rates with state universal reporting laws; (2) to determine whether demographic characteristics modify these effects; and (3) to assess whether these relationships, if any, hold with confirmed reports of specific child maltreatment types. We used county-level data from the U.S. National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System for the year 2000 in linear regression models to evaluate reporting rates for total reports, confirmed reports, and confirmed maltreatment types in a cross-sectional, ecological analysis. We compared these rates while controlling for child and community demographic variables such as child population size, gender, race, ethnicity, school attendance, disability, poverty, housing, high school graduation, parental marriage, religiosity, unemployment and crime. We found that counties in states with laws mandating that all adults must report suspected child maltreatment have significantly higher rates of total and confirmed reports even after controlling for several demographic characteristics previously associated with CM in the literature. However, among CM types, universal reporting was associated only with higher rates of confirmed neglect. Since it is unclear whether changing state law or policy will enhance case identification in states that do not currently require universal reporting, policymakers should consider whether universal reporting will meaningfully improve CM identification as they consider changes to state statutes.
    Children and Youth Services Review 03/2014; 38. DOI:10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.12.010 · 1.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives To identify what types of behaviors are defined as child maltreatment by the Israeli public, and which types of incidences are seen as justifying reporting to the authorities. The study examines to what extent these views are different among social groups in the Israeli society (e.g., Arabs and ultra-Orthodox).MethodsA telephone survey was conducted among a representative sample of 812 adults in Israel, with an oversampling of additional 50 ultra-Orthodox Jews. A series of 12 scenarios was presented to respondents who indicated whether each of them was a case of maltreatment and whether it justified reporting to authorities.ResultsThere was strong consensus among the participants that some scenarios indicate maltreatment. These scenarios related to all types of maltreatment and were associated with potentially severe harm. The tendency to justify reporting is weaker than the tendency to see them as cases of maltreatment. Further, there is a correspondence (although not a perfect one) between to what extent scenarios are judged as more indicative of maltreatment and the extent to which they are seen as justifying reporting. Both Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews tend to see more maltreatment than Jews in general and non ultra-Orthodox Jews in particular, except for using corporal punishment to “educate” an insolent child. No consistent differences were found between these groups in their justification for reporting.Conclusions There are indications that the underlying dimension which determines the identification of cases as maltreatment and justifies reporting is the severity of the potential harm to child, rather than the type of maltreatment (i.e., physical, sexual, neglect or emotional). The authors suggest that public campaigns should be tailored to address the different attitudes and perspectives of different social-cultural groups.
    Children and Youth Services Review 02/2013; 35(2):332–339. DOI:10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.11.013 · 1.27 Impact Factor

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