For 30 years, advocates, program administrators, and politicians have joined to encourage even more reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. Their efforts have been successful, with about three million cases of suspected child abuse having been reported in 1993. Large numbers of endangered children still go unreported, but a serious problem had developed: Upon investigation, as many as 65 percent or the reports now being made are determined to be "unsubstantiated", raising serious civil liberties concerns and placing a huge burden on investigative staffs.
Most experts agree that reports have increased over the past 30 years because professional have become more likely to report apparently abusive and neglectful situations. But the question remains: How many more cases still go unreported?
Two studies performed for the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect by Westat, Inc. provide an answer. In 1980 and then again in 1986, Westat conducted national studies of the incidence of child abuse and neglect. Each study used the same method: In a sample of counties, a sample of professionals who serve children was asked whether, during the study period, the children they ha seen in their offices appeared to have been abused or neglected.
Because the information these selected professionals provided could be matched against pending cases in the local child protective agency, Westat was able to estimate rates of nonreporting among the surveyed professionals. It could not, of course, estimate the level of unintentional nonreporting, since there is no way to know of the situations in which professionals did not recognize signs of possible mistreatment. There is also no ...
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...gencies must follow when doing anything concerning their investigation with a certain child or family. Here is an example:
1. Clarify child abuse reporting laws.
2. Provide continuing public education and professional training.
3. Screen reports.
4. Modify liability laws.
5. Give feedback to persons who report , and
Adopt an agency policy.
Child abuse and neglect is a very serious issue that can not be taken lightly. We need to provide continuing public education and professional training. Few people fail to report because they want children to suffer abuse and neglect. Likewise, few people make deliberately false reports. Most involve an honest desire to protect children coupled with confusion about what conditions are reportable. Educational efforts should emphasize the conditions that do not justify a report, as well as those that do.
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