Impact of a new mandatory reporting law on reporting and identification of child sexual abuse: A seven year time trend analysis

Mathews, Benjamin P., Lee, Xing Ju, & Norman, Rosana E. (2016) Impact of a new mandatory reporting law on reporting and identification of child sexual abuse: A seven year time trend analysis. Child Abuse & Neglect, 56, pp. 62-79.

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Abstract

Child sexual abuse is widespread and difficult to detect. To enhance case identification, many societies have enacted mandatory reporting laws requiring designated professionals, most often police, teachers, doctors and nurses, to report suspected cases to government child welfare agencies. Little research has explored the effects of introducing a reporting law on the number of reports made, and the outcomes of those reports. This study explored the impact of a new legislative mandatory reporting duty for child sexual abuse in the State of Western Australia over seven years. We analysed data about numbers and outcomes of reports by mandated reporters, for periods before the law (2006-08) and after the law (2009-12). Results indicate that the number of reports by mandated reporters of suspected child sexual abuse increased by a factor of 3.7, from an annual mean of 662 in the three year pre-law period to 2448 in the four year post-law period. The increase in the first two post-law years was contextually and statistically significant. Report numbers stabilised in 2010-12, at one report per 210 children. The number of investigated reports increased threefold, from an annual mean of 451 in the pre-law period to 1363 in the post-law period. Significant decline in the proportion of mandated reports that were investigated in the first two post-law years suggested the new level of reporting and investigative need exceeded what was anticipated. However, a subsequent significant increase restored the pre-law proportion, suggesting systemic adaptive capacity. The number of substantiated investigations doubled, from an annual mean of 160 in the pre-law period to 327 in the post-law period, indicating twice as many sexually abused children were being identified.

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ID Code: 95409
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Child sexual abuse, Mandatory reporting laws, Impact of new law, Reporting trends and outcomes, Time trend analysis, Child protection systems, Public health, Social policy, Mandatory reporting, Efficacy
DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2016.04.009
ISSN: 1873-7757
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100)
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 Health
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Mathematical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 Elsevier
Deposited On: 05 May 2016 23:14
Last Modified: 10 May 2016 22:19

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