Mandatory Reporting Laws

                                                      Mandatory Reporting Laws

Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to raise strong children than it is to fix broken men.”  In searching the web, I found many resources documenting recent and past records of policies on Mandatory Reporting.  I decided to make a rather more permanent location for accessing these resources.  It is imperative we establish a Federal Statute in view of these findings.

It is my staunch belief that Mandatory Reporting requires a Federal statute.  Twenty-eight states are now making it cheaper not to report than to report.  Anonymous reporting simply dilutes the effectiveness of reporting laws.  Frivolous reporting clauses are not well defined.  Who would risk jail time to report rather than pay a simple fine of $1,000 not to report?  I go on about 5 children dying every day from child abuse.  This is because it haunts me.  I know what it’s like to be small and live in terror every day at the hands of a parent.  It is well past time for us to join together to protect these forgotten children.  I believe shoring up Mandatory Reporting laws can save lives.

There are many links providing far too much information to incorporate into one article.  So please take the time to absorb this information.

Leonard G Brown III provides an impressive historical perspective on Child Abuse Law.  Mandatory Reporting of Abuse: A Historical Perspective on the Evolution of States’ Current Mandatory Reporting Laws with a Review of the Laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Childwelfare.gov shows the most current status denoting fines regarding child abuse law state by state.  Another publication is here showing general aspects of laws state by state.

General questions regarding Mandatory Reporters can be found here. 

42 U.S. Code Chapter 67 – CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION AND TREATMENT AND ADOPTION REFORM is the law that was established in 1974 that allowed states to receive funding and grants to support programs regarding child abuse. I found an easier viewing years ago.  California had laws already on the books prior to 1963.  Some states put Mandatory Reporting laws on the books in 1963.

Children were thought of, and even designated as, possessions.  It was not until 1984 and 1989 that children attained the right to be viewed as persons and not possessions, although you will still find laws on the books that designate children as possessions.  In no way should children be viewed as possessions?  (Two different links) They are a privilege.

Although families are viewed as the best option for a child, it is not always true.

These are children that were abused or killed by parents.  In a study I performed in university, I did see reporting the sexual abuse of children generated more resistance.  Perhaps that is because any action that results in the death of a child enforces higher fines.  In my state, the life of a child is worth $5,000.  A car is worth more.

If you view this:

(c) Notwithstanding subsection (g), whoever violates this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000. Whoever knowingly and willfully files a frivolous report of child abuse or neglect under this section shall be punished by: (i) a fine of not more than $2,000 for the first offense; (ii) imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 6 months and a fine of not more than $2,000 for the second offense; and (iii) imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 21/2 years and a fine of not more than $2,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.

Any mandated reporter who has knowledge of child abuse or neglect that resulted in serious bodily injury to or death of a child and willfully fails to report such abuse or neglect shall be punished by a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 21/2 years or by both such fine and imprisonment; and, upon a guilty finding or a continuance without a finding, the court shall notify any appropriate professional licensing authority of the mandated reporter’s violation of this paragraph.”

This would seem to circumvent reporting.  Jail-time for frivolous reporting and no jail time for not reporting?  How is frivolous reporting defined?  Where do the rights of the child rest in the process?  As you will see, if you clicked the link above regarding States laws policies here, many states include restrictive clauses regarding reporting.  This seems to be a trend that will continue.  I’ve known of professionals that simply did not document allegations of abuse.  Could avoidance of possible jail time for reporting be the reason?

Some State Legislators have attempted to shore up Mandatory Reporting laws  Some have succeeded where others have not.  In viewing frivolous reporting data provided in “Child Maltreatment” reports, frivolous reporting is a minute percentage of all child abuse claims.  For one of the years I reviewed, Police were determined to be the worst perpetrators of frivolous reporting.  That year showed less than five-hundred frivolous reports with over a few hundred-thousand reports being made.

From what I understand, Mandatory Reporting is key to acquiring State grants from the US Federal government.  Why then put such restrictions on reporting?

There is Hope.

I believe it is time to nip the problem of child abuse and child deaths in the bud.  I believe the only way to do that is with the help of our government.  I put together a database revealing child abuse deaths relative to parental care from 1999  to 2010.  The results were disheartening.  It showed that in 2010 1 known child died every 7 hours due to child abuse.  You can view the statistics here. The data was derived from about a dozen resources.  (It gives a snapshot of abuse from the years 1999-2010 and contains links to reports that can be viewed.)  I have no reason to believe this has changed in the following six years.  It is important to note that these are only the deaths we know about.  Some deaths are not reported to the proper authorities so the data can be included, and States can delay reporting past the deadline for the compilation of the National report, so those deaths are not reflected.

It’s time to put a stop to this:

I know many of you must know of other resources and, perhaps, even documented them.  I would like to request that you help me in my research if you have sources handy.

Conventions on the Rights of the Child

Child abuse Stories and Statistics

Karen Blodgett posted Statute of limitations for child sexual assault in all states.

Copyright 2017 Joyce Bowen

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