THE IMPACT OF MANDATORY REPORTING REQUIREMENTS ON THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM

Author: 

Robert J. Lukens

This article explores the impact of the mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect by analyzing the repercussions of erroneous reports. The consequences of investigating reports that do not result in an intervention by the child welfare agencies can be very serious because these diminish the already over-extended resources of these agencies. The consequences of over-burdening the child welfare system through this misallocation of investigative resources can be devastating for a high volume of children who remain at risk but whose needs are not properly addressed. Mandatory reporting exacerbates the tensions inherent in the child welfare system between the social responsibility of protecting children at risk of harm, and a similar obligation to shore up families who are distressed. As one way to reduce the over-reporting of spurious incidents of child abuse or neglect, this article argues for some professional discretion in deciding when to report suspected circumstances. View More