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Facilitators and inhibitors of mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse : a research study

Abstract

This is a report on a project funded by the Criminology Research Council. The original title of the research project, in the names of Shannon Caroline Taylor, Beverley Blaskett and Doug Lloyd, was 'Facilitators and inhibitors of mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect'. The study surveyed and interviewed health and welfare professionals employed in seven different occupations about their knowledge of, training in, attitudes towards, and compliance with, child protection legislation. The professional groups surveyed included groups mandated to report suspected child abuse (doctors, nurses, teachers and psychiatrists) and others who are not mandated (psychologists, child care workers, and social workers). The study aimed to determine to what extent professionals comply with reporting requirements and to what extent professionals influence one another in their child abuse reporting behaviours. The study finds, among other things, that despite a high level of concern to protect children from abuse, for a variety of reasons including lack of confidence in the child protection system, concern to protect confidentiality, fear of reprisal and concern at loss of trust of clients, professionals with responsibility for the care of children express reservations about reporting abuse. Several of those who are most experienced in dealing with cases of child abuse and with Child Protection Services are those who are most reluctant to invoke assistance from child protection authorities. These professionals recommend additional training in child protection issues and an enhanced, expeditious, supportive and professional approach from Child Protection Services to reports concerning abused children. Many of those surveyed indicated that they would benefit from increased opportunities to consult with Child Protection Services when deliberating over whether or not to notify suspected child abuse.

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