U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Response to Melton Based on the Best Available Data

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 31 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2007 Pages: 343-360
Brett Drake; Melissa Jonson-Reid
Date Published
April 2007
18 pages
This paper provides empirical data to evaluate the assertions offered by Melton (2005) that called into question the utility of public child protection practice as well as mandated reporting laws.
Results revealed a different conclusion than the one espoused by Melton (2005), which basically charged that child protection services (CPS) were suffering from “catastrophic problems” at least partly due to mandated reporting laws, which Melton characterized as “policy without reason.” Based on the data reviewed for this paper, the authors assert that while reports to CPS have quadrupled since the mid-1970s, the reports of professionals and nonprofessionals have increased at roughly the same rate. Moreover, data suggest that CPS agencies invest only a small portion of their time in investigative functions and CPS agencies are able to provide post-investigation services. The findings thus suggest that while the current child welfare system has its flaws, there is little empirical evidence to support the scathing critiques of CPS and mandating reporting laws offered by Milton (2005). The authors do agree with Milton (2005), however, that child maltreatment is a multi-faceted problem that should be confronted with substantial community involvement. Future research should continue to empirically evaluate the status of each point in the child protective system, from prevention to intervention. Data for the current analysis were drawn mainly from the Child Maltreatment 2003 report from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System and the National Analysis of Official Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting: 1977. The data analysis focused on whether reports of child maltreatment have escalated with time; whether reports from professional sources have increased faster than reports from nonprofessional sources; whether significant differences exist between State-level mandated reporting law coverage and rates of professional and nonprofessional reporting; and the proportion of CPS that is devoted to investigations. Data were analyzed using basic statistical methods. Tables, references