Teachers reporting suspected child sexual abuse : results of a three-state study

Mathews, Benjamin P., Walsh, Kerryann M., Rassafiani, Mehdi, Butler, Desmond A., & Farrell, Ann (2009) Teachers reporting suspected child sexual abuse : results of a three-state study. University of New South Wales Law Journal, 32(3), pp. 772-813.

View at publisher (open access)


Over 3000 cases of child sexual abuse are identified every year in Australia, but the real incidence is higher still. As a strategy to identify child sexual abuse, Australian States and Territories have enacted legislation requiring members of selected professions, including teachers, to report suspected cases. In addition, policy-based reporting obligations have been developed by professions, including the teaching profession. These legislative and industry-based developments have occurred in a context of growing awareness of the incidence and consequences of child sexual abuse. Teachers have frequent contact and close relationships with children, and possess expertise in monitoring changes in children’s behaviour. Accordingly, teachers are seen as being well-placed to detect and report suspected child sexual abuse. To date, however, there has been little empirical research into the operation of these reporting duties. The extent of teachers’ awareness of their duties to report child sexual abuse is unknown. Further, there is little evidence about teachers’ past reporting practice. Teachers’ duties to report sexual abuse, especially those in legislation, differ between States, and it is not known whether or how these differences affect reporting practice. This article presents results from the first large-scale Australian survey of teachers in three States with different reporting laws: New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia. The results indicate levels of teacher knowledge of reporting duties, reveal evidence about past reporting practice, and provide insights into anticipated future reporting practice and legal compliance. The findings have implications for reform of legislation and policy, training of teachers about the reporting of child sexual abuse, and enhancement of child protection.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 28783
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Mandatory reporting laws, Child sexual abuse, Teachers, Empirical study, Quantitative study, Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia
ISSN: 0313-0096 1447-7297
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > OTHER LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (189900)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Law and Justice Research Centre
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood & Inclusive Education
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 [please consult the authors].
Deposited On: 24 Nov 2009 05:32
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2012 04:54

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page