Mandated reporting of alleged child abuse and neglect is a failure. One-time proponents have turned against the current system of massive mandated reporting, and study after study shows that it backfires – discouraging families from reaching out for help and overloading the system, making it harder to find children in real danger.
Yet in Massachusetts, a commission on mandatory reporting appears to have limited its discussion to whether to expand mandatory reporting a little, or expand it a lot. And even as other states consider narrowing their neglect laws to reduce the confusion of poverty with neglect, the commission is considering making that confusion easier. All this in a state that already tears apart families – especially poor families of color – at a rate 60% above the national average.The commission’s myopia is a microcosm of the cycle of failure that has plagued Massachusetts child welfare for decades – a cycle that has made all of the state’s vulnerable children less safe.