For the first 75 years of child protective systems in the United States, private agencies like the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children provided the means through which abused children were identified and protected from further harm.State and federal governments were largely removed from these processes until societal pressure required governmental response in the mid-twentieth century.Mandated reporters are individuals required by the law of a given state to report concerning suspicions.Most often the term “mandated reporter” refers to individuals required to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect, but in some states the law may require some people to report elder abuse, institutional corruption, or other behaviors.We’ll also discuss the social worker’s role as mandated reporter and tease out when you’re a mandated reporter, and when you’re not.Other articles in this series will provide more detail on what, when, and how to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect.As a result of these advocacy efforts, by 1967 all 50 states and the District of Columbia had passed legislation that made medical personnel mandated reporters. In New York State, for instance, within five years after passing the first mandated reporting law, child fatalities dropped by 50%.
What about the stranger on the street you suspect is abusing or neglecting his/her child?
Henry Kempe, reported on a study of pediatric x-rays that found an alarming number of children with a history of unexplained fractures.
The only possible explanation the doctors could agree on was abuse.
Although some social work settings—such as schools, hospitals, and mental health clinics—are more likely than others, like nursing homes, to yield suspicions of child maltreatment, all social workers regardless of setting are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect.
As mandated reporters and ethical professionals, social workers have a professional obligation to seek out information to understand their legal requirement to report.
As a result of advocacy efforts from professional and child welfare organizations, the definition of mandated reporter has grown substantially over the past 50 years.