"Does Changing Mandated Reporting Laws Improve Child Maltreatment Reporting in Large U.S. Counties?"

Michigan Law Authors
Areas of Interest
Publish Date
Children and Youth Services Review
Publication Type
Journal Article

The effects of changes in mandated child maltreatment reporting laws have not been systematically evaluated. To better understand the effects of these changes, the objectives of the present study are: (1) to assess the relationships between report rates and state universal and clergy reporting laws in 2010; (2) to compare the changes in total, confirmed, and maltreatment type report rates and with changes in reporting laws from 2000 to 2010, and (3) to examine whether there is any relationship with report rates and the nature of the mandated reporting law change. We used county-level data from the U.S. National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System for the years 2000 and 2010 to evaluate changes in reporting rates for total reports, confirmed reports, and confirmed maltreatment types while controlling for concurrent changes in child and community variables. We found that trends in 2010 for increased total and confirmed reports were similar to 2000 for counties with universal and/or clergy reporting requirements, which significantly contributed to report rates even after controlling for child and community factors. Universal reporting was associated with higher report rates for physical and sexual abuse, and clergy reporting requirements were associated with more sexual abuse, medical neglect and psychological maltreatment confirmed reports. However, while counties in states that changed their clergy reporting laws had higher increases in total reports, they had fewer confirmed physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and psychological maltreatment reports. More pronounced changes were noted in a state that made more pronounced changes in its clergy reporting laws. Policymakers should consider whether changing requirements for mandated reporting meaningfully improves child maltreatment identification.

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