How childcare providers interpret "reasonable suspicion" of child abuse

Levi, Benjamin H., Crowell, Kathryn, Walsh, Kerryann, & Dellasega, Cheryl (2015) How childcare providers interpret "reasonable suspicion" of child abuse. Child and Youth Care Forum, 44(6), 875 -891.

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  • Background

Childcare providers are often “first responders” for suspected child abuse, and how they understand the concept of “reasonable suspicion” will influence their decisions regarding which warning signs warrant reporting.

  • Objective

The purpose of this study was to investigate how childcare providers interpret the threshold for reporting suspected abuse, and to consider the implications of these findings for professional training and development.

  • Method

A convenience sample of 355 childcare providers completed the Reasonable Suspicion of Child Abuse survey to quantify what likelihood of child abuse constitutes “reasonable suspicion.” Responses were examined for internal consistency, evidence of a group standard, and associations with professional and personal demographics.

  • Results

On a Rank Order Scale, responses for what constitutes “reasonable suspicion” ranged from requiring that abuse be “the” most likely cause (8 %) of an injury, to the second most likely (9 %), third (18 %), fourth (18 %), to even the seventh (8 %) or eighth (5 %) most likely cause of an injury. On a numerical probability scale, 21 % of respondents indicated that “abuse” would need to be ≥83 % likely before reasonable suspicion existed; 40 % stated that a likelihood between 53–82 % was needed; 27 % identified the necessary likelihood between 33–52 %; and 12 % set a threshold between 1–32 %.

  • Conclusions

The present finding that no consensus exists for interpreting “reasonable suspicion” suggests that a broadly accepted interpretive framework is needed in order to help prepare childcare providers to know when to report suspected abuse.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 93635
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: child abuse, mandated reporting, reasonable suspicion, childcare provider, child care, day care, ethics
DOI: 10.1007/s10566-015-9302-5
ISSN: 1573-3319
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Springer
Deposited On: 13 Mar 2016 22:58
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2016 21:18

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