Mandatory reporting is the responsibility given to specific individuals in different states in the United States to report cases of child abuse and neglect to the responsible governmental bodies. Different laws concerning the mandatory reporting vary in accordance with the states’ policies. However, some general specific stages and policies govern the mandatory reporting across all the states. The major laws that exist in mandatory reporting concern who has to report coupled with the kind of abuse and neglect cases that have to be reported. This paper will highlight a summary of the policies, laws, and conditions that govern mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect.
The mandated reporters
Normally, legislations outline a list of parties given the responsibility of mandatory reporting. Furthermore, the different groups of people that are mandated to report child abuse and neglect cases occupy different locations and occupations. For instance, the majority of the individuals that are supposed to report any form of child are in direct contact with children like “teachers, nurses, doctors, and the police” (Crosson 25). Therefore, the mandated reporters are given the responsibility and authority to report any noticeable child abuse and neglect to the government.
Abuse and neglect types reported
The legislations that define the kind of child abuse that should be reported are different. In addition, the types of abuse that warrant reporting are also different, based on the applicable jurisdiction. Generally, “four main types of child abuse and neglect are mandatory in many jurisdictions and they include physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and emotional abuse” (Fontes 18). However, in other states, it is a mandatory to report specific abuse types.
These cases vary across different states like sexual and physical abuse in children. In fact, some laws emphasize more on reports on children exposed to domestic and family violence. The laws vary across different states on the types of abuse and neglect to be reported; however, “sexual and physical abuse together with domestic violence cut across many legislations” (Crosson 29).
According to Berry, several legislations strictly specify that apart from sexual abuse or suspicion, only significant cases of abuse and neglect should be reported (28). However, despite that the main purpose of the law is to protect children, it is only those cases with sufficient evidence that directly or indirectly harms the children’s health and wellbeing warrants the states’ intervention. Nevertheless, sexual violence and suspected sexual abuse attracts serious and prompt intervention without the need for mandated reporters’ presence, which is under the state’s first jurisdiction and policies on sexual abuse (Fontes 32).
In other jurisdictions, the mandated reporters’ efforts are highly required in reporting any sexual violence and abuse even at the significant suspicious sexual harm level. For instance, suspected child abuse and neglect warrant mandatory reporting to the child and family welfare agencies (Berry 37). Moreover, the duty of mandated reporting applies to all future suspected significant sexual abuse and neglect cases. The law relies on reasonable grounds to intervene for sexual abuse or physical injury on children, while different agencies deal with suspected reasonable grounds that expose a child to the risk of significant harm of psychological or sexual abuse.
Protections of the mandated reporters and notification policies
The states’ legislations protect the mandated reporters’ disclosure and identity to avoid victimization. In addition, as long as the report is handed to the responsible government bodies, the reporter is not liable at any point to civil, criminal, or administrative law (Fontes 47). For instance, any voluntary non-mandatory reporting in many jurisdictions is treated confidential and it receives the set legal protections against any impunity and legal liability therein.
The legislations in all states jurisdictions expect mandatory child abuse and neglect reporting of children aged below 18 years. However, in some states, it is not mandatory to report cases of children aged between the age of 16 and 17, but suspicious sexual abuse and neglect of children below the age of 18 is generally taken as a form of abuse (Berry 52). For instance, some specific mandated groups have set the protocols that specify the moral, ethical, and professional requirements and responsibilities to report, but they may not be the officially mandated reporters.
Child protection and welfare response
In child abuse and neglect legislation policies, the common assumptions that govern the process include mandatory reporting requirements, legislative-suitable grounds for intervention, and the research classifications of sexual abuse and neglect lie under same conditions (Berry 83). Furthermore, mandatory reporting laws and policies specify the kind of circumstances that ought to be reported to the child welfare and protection services.
Moreover, “the legislative conditions for government interventions clearly outline the circumstances under which the statutory child protection service can legally launch interventions to protect a neglected abused child” (Fontes 65). In fact, scholars are focused on establishing the behaviors and conditions that are solely classified as abuse or neglect to a child. However, the methodology of research differs in many states that ultimately results in different policies.
Challenges of mandatory reporting
The introduction of mandatory reporting under legal jurisdictions has led to community’s awareness about child abuse and neglect. However, the lack of sufficient staff to handle the child abuse and neglect cases results in community frictions and disparities towards the cases. According to Crosson, some of the mandated reporters lack proper training and adequate information that lead to insufficient handling of some cases.
The non-mandated reporters make the highest percentage reports whereby some cross the responsibility borders in the reporting process. Therefore, the public should be made aware of the extent of their reporting responsibilities. Moreover, child and family protection and support services ought to be established to cater for the children and families that need full protection (McCoy and Keen 48).
The merits of mandatory reporting requisites
Compulsory reporting exposes the hidden nature of child abuse and neglect in society. Moreover, reporting provides the grounds for further investigations on child abuse and neglect cases, which may not have been detected without different child welfare and protection agency bodies (McCoy and Keen 34). In fact, the mandatory reporting initiates the community and public’s responsibility to report suspected and actual cases of child abuse and neglect to the responsible bodies. The policies and laws under child act create a child-centered culture in the society, which prevent molestation, mistreat, and abuse of any kind in children. Moreover, domestic child labor and sexual abuse with violence cases are easy detect and be reported. For instance, different professionals from different occupations create the awareness to report cases to the responsible legislative bodies and protect the children as reporters (Fontes 67).
Apparently, mandated reporting contributes significantly to the efforts of curtailing child abuse and neglect. For instance, the 2014 Florida Statues Chapter 39 requires any person to report any actual or suspected case of child abuse or neglect. The law enlists family counselors, registrars, arbitrators, and lawyers, which represent the children independently when the need arises. Under the Child Act, the court personnel has the responsibility of detecting suspicion child harm or abuse and immediately notifying the responsible body under child welfare authority on his/her basis of suspicion coupled with presenting the evidence of the suspicion.
Therefore, in the contemporary times, children enjoy enhanced security and legal protection to enjoy their childhood and the right to live under habitable environments (McCoy and Keen 85). Therefore, the introduction of mandated reporters has greatly created the importance of child protection in society. Ultimately, according to the recent researches on child abuse and neglect, the numbers and rates of child abuse have drastically reduced.
Children are blessings and they bring joy and happiness to the people’s lives. Child abuse and neglect leads to poor growth, lack of basic wants, decrease in self-esteem, and general self-hatred towards humanity. Child abuse and neglect exist in different states across the United States. However, different states have differing laws governing mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect. Nevertheless, the majority of the states have a common stand on child abuse and neglect. Therefore, the involved policymakers should continue creating and implementing prohibitive policies and laws to protect child abuse and neglect. Moreover, legislation should embark on establishing more child welfare and family agencies to deal with child cases. Ultimately, child abuse and neglect will reduce significantly.
Berry, Dawn. The Domestic Violence Sourcebook, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000. Print.
Crosson, Cynthia. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect, New York: Pearson, 2013. Print.
Fontes, Lisa. Child Abuse and Culture: Working With Diverse Families, New York: The Guilford Press, 2008. Print.
McCoy, Monicah, and Stefanie Keen. Child Abuse and Neglect, New York: Psychology Press, 2013. Print.