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No one likes to think of child abuse, therefore sometimes people look beyond the obvious signs of it. When it comes to reporting what you think you saw or what you think you know, no one wants to be wrong. There is a reason for this type of reasoning, child abuse, no matter what the category is, exists. Lobbying done in the start of the 1960’s allowed for the passage of “National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) within the Department of Health and Human Services and presented a model statute for state child protective programs (Karger and Stoesz, 2018, p. 321).” Karger and Stoesz goes on to explain the provisions as:
- A standard definition of child abuse and neglect
- Methods for reporting and investigating abuse and neglect
- Immunity for those reporting suspected injuries inflicted on children
- Prevention and public education efforts to reduce incidents of abuse and neglect (2018, p. 321).
Even with the part of that grants people immunity for reporting suspected acts, they do not like reporting. This is negative reflection of reporting because people do not want to get involved therefore they do not report the suspected child abuse, possibly keeping a child in a situation where they are being harmed. There is resistance to reporting because “negative perceptions about CPS, resistance from supervisors to reporting, and fear of the reaction of the alleged perpetrator (Bryant, 2009; Bryant & Milsom, 2005; Remley & Herlihy, 2010; Sikes, Remley, & Hays, 2010; Strozier, Brown, Fennell, Hardee, & Vogel, 2005; as stated by Henderson, 2013), or anticipating negative clinical outcomes (Brown & Strozier, 2004; Sikes et al., 2010; as stated by Henderson, 2013).” Sometimes when there is reporting the child still falls victim to the abuse because the CPS/DFCS workers are so overwhelmed with cases that they do not do the correct follow up.
Another drawback to mandated reporting is over reporting. According to St. John (2013), “An increase in the number of referrals has led to an increase in the number of substantiated reports but it has also led to an increase in the number of unsubstantiated reports, all of which must be investigated (p. 9).” This leads to the overworking of the case managers and the agencies. Even though it is a good thing to support the person who has reported the abuse, sometimes it is the lack of training of that person understanding abuse that hurts the case. Some agencies are only required to give their employees a small synapsis when it comes to training, however in the educational setting it is mandatory because they work with children every day. There is classroom training available with the use of real world scenarios.
The most important reason to report child abuse is to have a safe place for the child to return to or go to. Knowing one has gotten a child out of a situation where they were receiving physical, mental or emotional harm is rewarding. The goal of the mandated reporter is to get the child out of harm’s way and to help others in assisting this child with what they need. According to St. John (2013), “Mandated reporters reinforces the moral obligation on every adult citizen to care for and protect all children from abuse and harm and helps to create a culture which is more child-centered and less and less tolerant of abuse and neglect of children (para. 3).” This lets the abuser know that what he/she has done will not be tolerated and that children are not to be bullied or harmed because they do not have a voice; there are others who will speak up for them.
Another benefit to mandatory reporting is that the reporter only has to suspect the abuse they do not have to investigate it. For example, a teacher would never approach a parent about their suspension, they would allow the counselor to call agency and then it will get investigated. The responsibility to investigate and provide evidence lies with state authorities, such as CPS or local police (Henderson, 2013). The teacher will not have the right training to interview or do what is necessary to actually come to a conclusion that abuse is occurring.
Interviewing a child can be very tricky because one does not want to lead the child into saying they are being abused or want them to name a person that may be innocent. They would also not want to interview a child without consent or without having the right legal ramification. According to the Childwelfare.org (2015), “Consent to interview(s) of the (possible) victim often must be obtained from guardians, unless there is reason to believe such person is the alleged perpetrator. In cases where serious abuse or neglect is substantiated, local law enforcement, prosecutors or other public offices must be notified, and a copy of the investigation report must be sent (page 18).” These authorities has been taught to interview victims without leading them this can be challenging to those without training. It is also important to make the victim comfortable and interview them in surroundings where they do not feel intimidated or say what is wanted to be heard, which can sometimes happen with a person they are comfortable with.
Childwelfare.org. (2015). Mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. Retrieved from https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/manda.pdf
St. John, E. (2013). Mandatory reporting: The benefits, difficulties and drawbacks. Retrieved from http://www.aoadvocates.com/blog/2013/12/12/mandatory-reporting-the-benefits-difficulties-and-drawbacks