Does the Protection of Children’s Rights to Safety Require a System of Mandatory Reporting of Abuse and Neglect? An Argument

Mathews, Benjamin P. & Bross, Donald C. (2008) Does the Protection of Children’s Rights to Safety Require a System of Mandatory Reporting of Abuse and Neglect? An Argument. In XVIIth ISPCAN International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect, September 7-10 2008, Hong Kong.


Purpose Some recent criticisms of mandated reporting laws have argued that they produce large numbers of unsubstantiated reports, which places stress on child protective services, wastes limited government resources, and reduces the quality and even the presence of service to children who are already known to be abused or neglected. Some critics have even claimed that mandated reporting is now unjustifiable on the basis that disclosure of cases of abuse and neglect is not the primary problem facing child protection systems. This paper addresses these claims, presenting the results of an analysis of law, children's rights, economic and medical evidence, and government data on reporting.

Methods The authors use theories of children's rights, and three sources of evidence to assess whether a system of mandatory reporting is justifiable. The three sources of evidence are empirical data from governments in the USA, Canada and Australia about the origin of disclosures of substantiated cases of abuse and neglect; economic evidence about the impact of abuse and neglect; and medical evidence regarding the consequences of abuse and neglect.

Results After analysing this evidence, and with children's rights to safety as the primary concern, the authors argue that a child protection system needs some form of case identification beyond voluntary help-seeking, that mandated reporting systems in the USA, Canada and Australia are proven to produce a large number of substantiated reports, and that the social, economic and health-related advantages of mandated reporting outweigh the disadvantages.

Conclusions Some type of system of mandated reporting is required to protect children's rights to safety and health, and to assist parents and families, because without such a system, many cases of abuse and neglect simply will not come to the attention of authorities and helping agencies.

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ID Code: 14857
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Law, child protection, child abuse and neglect, mandatory reporting laws, children's rights
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Law not elsewhere classified (180199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > APPLIED ETHICS (220100) > Human Rights and Justice Issues (220104)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Legal Theory Jurisprudence and Legal Interpretation (180122)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Research Centres > Law and Justice Research Centre
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 15 Sep 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2015 02:04

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