Mandatory Reporting Laws and Identification of Child Abuse and Neglect: Consideration of Differential Maltreatment Types, and a Cross-Jurisdictional Analysis of Child Sexual Abuse Reports

Mathews, Benjamin P. (2014) Mandatory Reporting Laws and Identification of Child Abuse and Neglect: Consideration of Differential Maltreatment Types, and a Cross-Jurisdictional Analysis of Child Sexual Abuse Reports. Social Sciences, 3(3), pp. 460-482.

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Mandatory reporting laws have been created in many jurisdictions as a way of identifying cases of severe child maltreatment on the basis that cases will otherwise remain hidden. These laws usually apply to all four maltreatment types. Other jurisdictions have narrower approaches supplemented by differential response systems, and others still have chosen not to enact mandatory reporting laws for any type of maltreatment. In scholarly research and normative debates about mandatory reporting laws and their effects, the four major forms of child maltreatment—physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect—are often grouped together as if they are homogenous in nature, cause, and consequence. Yet, the heterogeneity of maltreatment types, and different reporting practices regarding them, must be acknowledged and explored when considering what legal and policy frameworks are best suited to identify and respond to cases. A related question which is often conjectured upon but seldom empirically explored, is whether reporting laws make a difference in case identification. This article first considers different types of child abuse and neglect, before exploring the nature and operation of mandatory reporting laws in different contexts. It then posits a differentiation thesis, arguing that different patterns of reporting between both reporter groups and maltreatment types must be acknowledged and analysed, and should inform discussions and assessments of optimal approaches in law, policy and practice. Finally, to contribute to the evidence base required to inform discussion, this article conducts an empirical cross-jurisdictional comparison of the reporting and identification of child sexual abuse in jurisdictions with and withoutmandatory reporting, and concludes that mandatory reporting laws appear to be associated with better case identification.

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ID Code: 75835
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Child abuse and neglect, Child sexual abuse, Mandatory reporting laws, Effect of mandatory reporting on case identification, Differentiation thesis
DOI: 10.3390/socsci3030460
ISSN: 2076-0760
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Community Child Health (111704)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Law and Society (180119)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 (please consult the author).
Deposited On: 01 Sep 2014 02:03
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2014 04:40

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