Sunday, March 1, 2020

NCCPR in Youth Today on why mandatory child abuse reporting laws belong on the dustbin of child welfare history

Last week, a committee of the Idaho Legislature did something that, in the politics of child welfare, is revolutionary. The committee took a look at the state’s “mandatory reporting” law for child abuse and neglect — and actually voted to narrow it. Right now, in Idaho everyone is a mandated reporter. The bill would change that to only certain professionals who come into contact with children.

What’s so revolutionary about that? Only the fact that in 50 years, states have moved to broaden who has to report their slightest suspicion of child abuse hundreds, probably thousands of times. As far as I know, this one legislative committee in Idaho is the first to say: Maybe we should follow the evidence.

More than half a century after they were enacted — passed in an early flurry of hysteria over child abuse, with no evidence that they would work — the research finally is catching up. The research shows the laws do nothing to actually reduce child abuse, while causing enormous collateral damage. The research shows that mandatory reporting laws contribute to undermining the fabric of entire poor communities. 

Some cases in point:

Read the full column in Youth Today