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Mandated Reporting Among School Personnel: Differences Between Professionals Who Reported a Suspected Case and Those Who Did Not

NCJ Number
221574
Journal
Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma Volume: 15 Issue: 2 Dated: 2007 Pages: 21-37
Author(s)
Ernst O. VanBergeijk
Date Published
2007
Length
17 pages
Annotation
This study examined the reporting experience of designated reporters within the New York City public school system.
Abstract
Results indicate that there are a number of factors that impact the reporting of child maltreatment by school personnel. The strongest predictor of whether a designated reporter referred the last suspected case of child maltreatment to the State Central Registers (SCR) was their level of confidence that abuse had occurred. Reporting maltreatment is embedded in ethical considerations such as weighing the child’s right to protection with the family’s rights to privacy, cultural variation in the child rearing, and the possibility of State intervention. The reporter’s level of confidence predicted reporting behavior; low levels of confidence accurately reflected a lack of reportability of a particular case. Because there is an intuitive relationship between confidence and accuracy, improving the training of reporters would improve reporters’ confidence in their ability to make a determination of maltreatment, and increase their understanding of State requirements for reporting. The designated reporter’s job title was also predictive of reporting behavior. When compared to all other professionals who fill the role of designated reporters, the odds that a psychologist reported their last suspected case of abuse and neglect was 91 percent less than other professions. Psychologists either delayed a report or were less consistent in their reporting than other professionals. The presence of obstacles also predicted reporting behavior. For each obstacle that a designated reporter identified, there was a 19 percent decrease in the odds that a respondent reported the last case they suspected. Individuals who had negative experiences with Child Protective Services (CPS), difficulty communicating with the agency, or held negative opinions about the agency were less likely to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect. Although mandated reporters are given immunity from criminal or civil liability as long as they report in good faith, one quarter of the respondents feared testifying in court and legal liability. Tables, references