|| Mandated Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse: Ethics, Law, and Policy
||Seth C. Kalichman
||American Psychological Association, ©1993
APA Order Department
P.O. Box 92984
Washington, DC 20090-2984
Every practicing mental health professional, including psychologists, psychiatrists,
and social workers, needs to be familiar with the contents of this 245-page
book. Every physician, nurse, teacher, clergyperson, and even college professor,
should know what this book tells about. It may even be smart for attorneys
to know this book. Another class of beneficiaries would be administrators
of hospitals, schools, churches, and medical practices. All of these groups
are vulnerable to the impositions of mandated reporting laws on their professional
lives in ways that can be quite distressing.
The laws requiring professionals to report suspected child abuse are vague,
subject to a variety of interpretations and applications, but also draconian
in their potential impact upon professionals whom the laws cover to mandate
reporting, but who may not do so. The cases described are frightening in
their potential for ending careers.
It appears that the best way to respond to mandated reporting laws is to
report everything and make no attempt to sort through the ethical dilemmas
or to predict possible outcomes. A single paragraph on page 59 suggests
this tactic. Just report it. This protects the professional and does not
appear to produce any necessary down side in spite of widespread fears about
confidentiality and the therapeutic relationship. If the professional believes
there is likely no abuse, tell that to the authorities when reporting it.
They are most likely going to give some weight to a caveat from a professional.
If there is any overresponding by the system, go to bat for the client and
do what needs to be done to stop it. This strategy seems likely to have
the most benefit to all concerned and the least downside.
Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, Institute for Psychological Therapies.