Mandatory reporting

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Mandatory reporting laws and identification of child abuse and neglect : consideration of differential maltreatment types, and a cross-jurisdictional analysis of child sexual abuse reports.

Mathews B
Social Sciences v. 3 no. 3 2014: 460-482
In the worldwide effort to determine how best to identify and respond to cases of child maltreatment, many nations have developed mandatory reporting laws. This article investigates whether such laws make a difference in identifying cases of abuse. It examines the nature and function of mandatory reporting laws, describes the key characteristics of different types of child abuse and neglect, and compares reporting and identification rates of child sexual abuse in two jurisdictions with and without legislative mandatory reporting - Victoria and Ireland. The article posits a differentiation thesis, arguing that different patterns of reporting between both reporter groups and maltreatment types must be acknowledged and analysed, and should inform discussions and assessments of optimal approaches in law, policy and practice.

Australian print media framing of mandatory reporting.

Gillespie K, McCosker L, Lonne B and Marston G
Communities, Children and Families Australia v. 8 no. 2 Dec 2014: 13-28
Mandatory reporting is a key aspect of Australia's approach to protecting children and is incorporated into all jurisdictions' legislation, albeit in a variety of forms. In this article we examine all major newspaper's coverage of mandatory reporting during an 18-month period in 2008-2009, when high-profile tragedies and inquiries occurred and significant policy and reform agendas were being debated. Mass media utilise a variety of lenses to inform and shape public responses and attitudes to reported events. We use frame analysis to identify the ways in which stories were composed and presented, and how language portrayed this contested area of policy. The results indicate that within an overall portrayal of system failure and the need for reform, the coverage placed major responsibility on child protection agencies for the over-reporting, under-reporting, and overburdened system identified, along with the failure of mandatory reporting to reduce risk. The implications for ongoing reform are explored along with the need for robust research to inform debate about the merits of mandatory reporting.

Historical review of sexual offence and child sexual abuse legislation in Australia: 1788-2013

Boxall H, Tomison A and Hulme S
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Criminology ; Sydney, NSW : Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, 2014.
To help the Royal Commission with its work, this report was commissioned to provide an historical review of sexual offence legislation in Australia - particularly as it related to children - from British colonisation in 1788 to the present. It explores the socio-political context within which child sexual abuse legislation has developed in Australia and provides an overview of the offences with which a person who sexually abused a child may have been charged during 1950-2013, for the different jurisdictions of Australia. Key legislative developments during this period include: the decriminalisation of homosexual acts, the removal of gendered language from legislation, broadening the definition of sexual intercourse, the introduction of legislation relating to child pornography, and the introduction of mandatory reporting for child abuse.

Mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse in Australia: a legislative history

Mathews B
Sydney, NSW : Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, 2014.
To help the Royal Commission with its work, this report was commissioned to explain the development of mandatory reporting laws in Australia and to identify the existence and scope of mandatory reporting laws in any jurisdiction at a given point in time. It identifies differences within and between State and Territory laws from 1969 to 2013.

Child protection Australia 2012-13

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2014.
This report provides statistics on child protection services in Australia for the 2012/2013 period. It provides data on child protection notifications, investigations and substantiations, children on care and protection orders, characteristics of children in out-of-home care, kinship care and foster care households, and intensive family support services. Statistics are provided by state and territory, with comparisons with previous years where appropriate, and with statistics for Indigenous children. In 2012/2013 there were 135,000 children in contact child protection services, including investigation, care and protection order and/or in out-of-home care - a rate of 26.1 per 1,000 children. However, more than half (56%) of these children were subject only to an investigation - that is, they were not subsequently placed on an order or in out-of-home care. Note: this is the first time that unit-record level data have been available for analysis and reporting, allowing the inclusion, for the first time, of a number of previously unavailable analyses: including unique counts of children receiving child protection services in each jurisdiction; the number of substantiations per child; co-occurring types of abuse and neglect; socioeconomic status; and 'average day' measures.

Child sexual abuse and mandatory reporting intervention preservice content preferred by student teachers.

Goldman J and Grimbeek P
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse v. 23 no. 1 Jan/Feb 2014: 1-16
To help inform teacher training, this article investigates the needs and preferences of student teachers concerning child sexual abuse in Australia. This includes information on the identification of abuse, teacher role, responses and procedures after disclosure, and mandatory reporting.

Mandatory reporting laws.

Mathews B and Walsh K
Hayes, Alan, ed. Higgins, Daryl J., ed. Families, policy and the law : selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia. Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2014. 9781922038487: 131-142
To help protect children from significant abuse and neglect, each state and territory in Australia has enacted legislation commonly known as 'mandatory reporting laws'. Under mandatory reporting, specifically designated professionals who work with children are legally required to report certain kinds of child abuse and neglect to government authorities. This chapter explains the nature of these laws, professional duty of care, and the different legislative principles operating across Australia. It also highlights the need for effective reporter training and public awareness, especially given the tension between the widely perceived need for a community response to child abuse and neglect and the simultaneous concern to avoid unnecessary reporting of innocuous events and situations.

Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect

Mathews B and Scott D
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2014.
The legal requirement to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect is known as mandatory reporting. This paper explains the different legal provisions across the states and territories of Australia, regarding who is legally mandated to report suspected child abuse, what type of concerns must be reported, and the benefits and challenges of mandatory reporting.

Child protection Australia 2011-12

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2013.
This report provides statistics on child protection services in Australia for the 2011/2012 period. It provides data on child protection notifications, investigations and substantiations, children on care and protection orders, characteristics of children in out-of-home care, kinship care and foster care households, and intensive family support services. Statistics are provided by state and territory, with comparisons with previous years where appropriate, and with statistics for Indigenous children. This report also contains feature sections on mandatory reporting requirements, child protection legislation, policy and practice differences across Australia, and recent policy developments. Between 2010/11 and 2011/12, the number of children who were the subject of substantiations increased from 31,527 to 37,781 - an increase in the rate from 6.1 to 7.4 per 1,000 children.

Emerging issues

Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry
Brisbane, Qld. : Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, 2012.
The Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry was established on 1 July 2012 to review the performance and effectiveness of the child protection system in Queensland. This preliminary discussion paper provides background information on the six key issues that the Commission has reviewed so far, prior to the release of a more detailed discussion paper next year. These key issues are: mandatory reporting, Indigenous over-representation, investment in secondary services, responding to children and families with complex needs, growth in demand for out-of-home care, and workforce and workload issues.

Understanding teachers' reporting of child sexual abuse : measurement methods matter.

Walsh K, Mathews B, Rassafiani M, Farrell A and Butler D
Children and Youth Services Review v. 34 no. 9 Sep 2012: 1937-1946
This article examines the factors influencing teachers' reporting of child sexual abuse in Australia. Based on a survey of 470 teachers, it studies actual past and anticipated future reporting behaviour and the factors influencing these, such as reporting attitudes, system attitudes, policy knowledge, and concerns about consequences.

Child welfare policy and practice on children's exposure to domestic violence.

Cross T, Mathews B, Tonmyr L, Scott D and Ouimet C
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 36 no. 3 Mar 2012: 210-216
This article summarises current knowledge on the prevalence of children's exposure to domestic violence, and reviews child welfare policies in Australia, Canada, and the United States. It briefly discusses data collection, mandatory reporting, child protection initiatives, and differential response approaches.

Exploring the contested role of mandatory reporting laws in the identification of severe child abuse and neglect.

Mathews B
Freeman, Michael, ed. Law and childhood studies. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2012. Current legal issues v. 14 9780199652501: 302-338
One argument against the mandatory reporting of child abuse is that it produces overreporting, leading to infringements of privacy and diverting scarce resources away from substantiated cases. This chapter examines the validity of this claim. It reviews the history and development of mandatory reporting laws, compares laws in western nations, and analyses data from the New South Wales child protection system, regarding their legislation changes, notifications, and substantiated cases of abuse.

The decision making processes adopted by rurally located mandated professionals when child abuse or neglect is suspected.

Francis K, Chapman Y, Sellick K, James A, Miles M, Jones J and Grant J
Contemporary Nurse v. 41 no. 1 Apr 2012 Special Issue, Advances in contemporary community and family health care, 3rd ed. 9781921980039 Advances in Contemporary Nursing no. 22: 58-69
The reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect is a mandated role of medical doctors, nurses, police and teachers in Victoria, Australia. This paper reports on a research study that sought to explicate how mandated professionals working in rural Victorian contexts identify a child/ren at risk and the decisions they make subsequently.

Child protection Australia 2010-11.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012.
This report provides statistics on child protection services in Australia for the 2010/2011 period. It provides data on child protection notifications, investigations and substantiations, children on care and protection orders, characteristics of children in out-of-home care, kinship care and foster care households, and Intensive family support services. Statistics are provided by state and territory, with comparisons with previous years where appropriate, and with statistics for Indigenous children. This report also contains feature sections on mandatory reporting requirements, child protection legislation, policy and practice differences across Australia, recent policy changes, differences in data systems across Australia, and a glossary. Though the number of children subject to a notification has decreased significantly in recent years, the number of children in out of home care has increased, with 37,648 children in care in 2011.

Failing whom? The proposal to introduce 'failure to protect' laws in Victoria.

DVRCV Quarterly no. 3 Spring/Summer 2011: 15-16
The Victorian government is currently reviewing whether to adopt 'failure to protect' laws, similar to those found in South Australia, Northern Territory, and overseas. Such laws oblige adults take action if they believe a child in their care is being abused, and creates offences for adults who fail to take action. However, many people in the family violence sector have concerns about this proposal. This article summarises a joint submission prepared by a group of agencies from the Victorian Family Violence Justice Reform Campaign, including the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, Women's Legal Service Victoria, Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria, No To Violence, Women with Disabilities Victoria and Domestic Violence Victoria. It outlines their concerns with the proposal, and suggests what is needed instead.

Women's views: moving forward on mandatory reporting of domestic and family violence in the Northern Territory

West D
Darwin, NT : Charles Darwin University, 2011
In 2009 mandatory reporting of domestic violence by professionals and community members was enacted in the Northern Territory. This report was undertaken to analyse how this legislation impacted upon service providers and the safety of women and children. The report reveals that there were very mixed views about mandatory reporting. Concerns were expressed around the awareness of the legislation; the impact such legislation would have on the therapeutic relationship between staff and clients and a perceived lack of difference which the legislation had made to the safety of women and children.

Child abuse : mandatory reporting requirements.

Bird S
Australian Family Physician v. 40 no. 11 Nov 2011: 921-926
The aim of child abuse mandatory reporting legislation is to enable medical practitioners and other professionals to report cases without fear of criticism or reprisal. This article outlines the legal obligations of medical practitioners to report suspected child abuse in each state and territory of Australia, and the relevant legislation, definitions, and contact details.

Safeguarding children across services: messages from research

Davies C and Ward H
London : Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2011
"The Safeguarding Children Research Initiative [in Great Britain] is an important element in the government response to the Inquiry following the death of Victoria Climbie. Its purpose is to provide a stronger evidence base for the development of policy and practice to improve the protection of children in England. Eleven studies were commissioned as part of the Safeguarding Children Research Initiative. This Overview focuses on the findings from these studies, but also refers extensively to a further four important research studies that also reported during the same time period. This research provides an overview of the key messages from 15 studies, distilled to meet the needs of those professionals who seek to utilise such research findings to shape their day-to-day work. These include strategic and operational managers and practitioners, commissioners and providers of services, and policymakers in all those agencies that are required to work together to safeguard children."--Dept. for Education website.

Children's exposure to domestic violence in Australia

Richards K
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2011.
Children's 'witnessing' or exposure to domestic violence has been increasingly recognised as a form of child abuse, both in Australia and internationally. Although it is difficult to accurately assess the scope of the problem, research has demonstrated that a substantial amount of domestic violence is witnessed by children. As this paper outlines, witnessing domestic violence can involve a range of incidents, ranging from the child 'only' hearing the violence, to the child being forced to participate in the violence or being used as part of a violent incident. In this paper, current knowledge about the extent of children's exposure to domestic violence in Australia is described, along with the documented impacts that this exposure can have on children. This includes psychological and behavioural impacts, health and socioeconomic impacts, and its link to the intergenerational transmission of violence and re-victimisation. Current legislative and policy initiatives are then described and some community-based programs that have been introduced in Australia to address the problem of children's exposure to domestic violence are highlighted. The paper concludes that initiatives focused on early intervention and holistic approaches to preventing and responding to children's exposure to domestic violence should be considered as part of strategies developed to address this problem. (Publisher abstract)

Child protection Australia 2009-10.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011.
This report provides statistics on child protection services in Australia for the 2009/2010 period. It provides data on child protection notifications, investigations and substantiations, children on care and protection orders, characteristics of children in out-of-home care, characteristics of foster carer households, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care, and Intensive family support services. Statistics are provided by state and territory, with comparisons with previous years where appropriate. This report also contains feature sections on mandatory reporting requirements, child protection legislation, policy and practice differences across Australia, recent policy changes, differences in data systems across Australia, and a glossary. In 2009/10, over 187,000 children were the subject of a child protection notification; just over 31,000 children were the subject of a substantiation; around 37,000 children were on care and protection orders; almost 36,000 children were living in out-of-home care; and there were almost 8,050 foster carer households.

Teachers' attitudes toward reporting child sexual abuse : problems with existing research leading to new scale development.

Walsh K, Rassafiani M, Mathews B, Farrell A and Butler D
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse v. 19 no. 3 2010: 310-336
This article investigates teacher attitudes towards reporting child sexual abuse. Part one presents findings from a literature review on teacher attitudes. Part two presents a 21-item scale for measuring teacher attitudes, and discusses the scale's development and preliminary testing. This study is part of a larger project on child sexual abuse reporting in Australian primary schools.

Longitudinal trends in child protection statistics in South Australia : a study of unit record data.

Delfabbro P, Hirte C, Wilson R and Rogers N
Children Australia v. 35 no. 3 2010: 4-10
In Australia, it is commonly reported that rates of child protection notifications have increased over time, More and more children in any given year are subject to a child protection notification, On the whole, these conclusions have been based on cross-sectional notification counts or rates recorded in a given year. Although useful, such analyses are limited in that they do not account for the fact that child protection incidents are unevenly distributed across individual cases. Cross-sectional analyses also do not indicate the incidence of notifications within a given cohort of children. In this paper, we summarise the longitudinal and comparative analysis of data relating to children born in 1991, 1998 and 2002. The results highlight the increasingly early involvement of child protection systems in children's lives, higher annual incidence rates, as well as increasingly steep cumulative involvement curves for cohorts tracked from their year of birth. The implications of these findings for mandatory reporting policies are discussed.

Teachers reporting child sexual abuse : towards evidence-based reform of law, policy and practice : final report

Mathews B, Walsh K, Butler D and Farrell A
Brisbane : Queensland University of Technology, 2010.
This report examines the state of law, policy, and practice regarding the reporting of child sexual abuse by primary school teachers in New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia. Based on legislation and policy as of 1st January 2007, the report investigates current legislative requirements, school polices, past reporting practices, and teacher training and attitudes as to their reporting duties. Using this evidence-base, the report makes recommendations as to how these policies and practices can be improved. The report features a survey of 470 teachers in government and non-government primary schools.

A commentary on national child maltreatment surveillance systems: examples of progress.

AlEissa M, Fluke J, Gerbaka B, Goldbeck L, Gray J, Hunter N, Madrid B, Van Puyenbroeck B, Richards I and Tonmyr L
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 33 no. 11 Nov 2009: 809-814
This commentary explores the range, status and goals of different types of data collection within child maltreatment surveillance systems. It provides examples from ten different countries - Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Germany, Lebanon , New Zealand, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and the United States - which variously include their data collection activities as part of the social service, justice, or health sectors.

Developments in Australian laws requiring the reporting of suspected child sexual abuse.

Mathews B, Goddard C, Lonne B, Short S and Briggs F
Children Australia v. 34 no. 3 2009: 18-23
Thousands of Australian children are sexually abused every year and the effects can be severe and long lasting. Not only is child sexual abuse a public health problem, but the acts inflicted are criminal offences. Child sexual abuse usually occurs in private, typically involving relationships featuring a massive imbalance in power and an abuse of that power. Those who inflict child sexual abuse seek to keep it secret, whether by threats or more subtle persuasion. As a method of responding to this phenomenon and in an effort to uncover cases of sexual abuse that otherwise would not come to light, governments in Australian states and Territories have enacted legislation requiring designated persons to report suspected child sexual abuse. With Western Australia's new legislation having commenced on 1 January 2009, every Australian State and Territory government has now passed these laws, so that there is now, for the first time, an almost harmonious legislative approach across Australia to the reporting of child sexual abuse. Yet there remain differences in the State and Territory laws regarding who has to make reports, which cases of sexual abuse are required to be reported and whether suspected future abuse must be reported. These differences indicate that further refinement of the laws is required.

Child protection and the health professional : mandatory responding is our duty.

Winterton P
Medical Journal of Australia v. 191 no. 5 7 Sep 2009: 246-247
Each state in Australia has mandatory reporting of child abuse. The aim of this is to achieve better outcomes for children and families, but current research indicates that child protection agencies are not protecting the child, that they cannot cope with all the referrals they get. This article discusses the idea that it is the reponsibility of all health professionals to act on suspicions of child abuse. It lists forms that response can take and concludes that mandatory responding rather than reporting is a better tool to improve outcomes for children.

Contact with the South Australian child protection system : a statistical analysis of longitudinal child protection data

Hirte C, Rogers N and Wilson R
Adelaide, S. Aust. : Dept. for Families and Communities, 2008.
Drawing on data from the Families SA Client Information System, this study undertook a longitudinal statistical analysis in order to explore the extent to which a cohort of children (born in 1991) have come into contact with the South Australian child protection system, the nature of the contact, outcomes and patterns. It includes some comparative analysis of cohorts born in 1998 and 2002. The results show that 22.5 per cent of the 1991 South Australian birth cohort had been the subject of at least one child protection notification. About three quarters of the children who were subject to a notification have not had any other contact with the Families SA system. Only a relatively small number have had multiple contacts. Age at first notification was found to be a predictor of: multiple notifications (the younger the age at first notification, the more likely it was that multiple notifications would be received); substantiated abuse; and being placed in alternative care. A comparison of the 1991, 1998 and 2002 cohorts of children found that children are increasingly likely to be notified for alleged child abuse or neglect and have contact with the child protection system. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were more likely to be the subject of a child protection notification, investigation and substantiation, and to be placed in care. Compared with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and with non-Indigenous males and females, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls were the subject of higher numbers of notifications and substantiation.

Protecting children from abuse and neglect.

Mathews B
Monahan, Geoff, ed. Young, Lisa, ed. Children and the law in Australia. Chatswood, N.S.W. : LexisNexis Butterworths, 2008. 9780409323900: 204-237
This chapter introduces key legal issues in child protection and child abuse prevention in Australia. It outlines the legislative and social context, and describes issues regarding evidence of child abuse, employment screening, parenting orders, court evaluation of allegations of sexual abuse, mandatory reporting, statutory child protection, out of home care, and child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities and the Northern Territory Emergency Response.

Mandatory reporting legislation in the United States, Canada, and Australia : a cross-jurisdictional review of key features, differences, and issues.

Mathews B and Kenny M
Child Maltreatment v. 13 no. 1 Feb 2008: 50-63
The United States, Canada and Australia have developed mandatory child abuse reporting laws in particular detail as a central part of government strategy to detect cases of abuse and neglect at an early stage, protect children, and facilitate the provision of services to children and families. This article provides a review of mandatory reporting legislation in these three countries. The article conducts a comparison of the key elements of these laws, disclosing significant differences and highlighting the issues that face legislatures and policy-making bodies.
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