Reasonable Suspicion of Child Abuse: Finding a Common Language
Article first published online: 11 FEB 2011
© 2011 American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Inc.
The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics
Volume 39, Issue 1, pages 62–69, Spring 2011
How to Cite
Levi, B. H. and Portwood, S. G. (2011), Reasonable Suspicion of Child Abuse: Finding a Common Language. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 39: 62–69. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-720X.2011.00550.x
- Issue published online: 11 FEB 2011
- Article first published online: 11 FEB 2011
In the United States, the implementation of a successful system of mandated reporting of suspected child abuse continues to be plagued by the absence of a clear standard for when one must report. All 50 states of the U.S. have laws requiring certain individuals to report suspected child abuse. However, at present, there are variable thresholds for mandated reporting and no clear consensus on how existing thresholds should be interpreted. Because “child abuse” is often present as a possible etiology for injuries and non-infectious conditions that beset children, it is problematic to suggest that “the mere possibility of child abuse” qualifies as cause to report. In an effort to move toward a more effective system of mandated reporting of child maltreatment, this paper discusses how the absence of a clear threshold affects mandated reporters, examines the relevant legal and conceptual issues, and suggests future directions for policy, practice, and research.