Reporting Child Abuse: Navigating One’s Responsibility as a Mandated Reporter

Recently, I came across an article in the The New Social Worker Magazine discussing a social worker’s responsibility as a mandated reported in the workplace. The author, Kathryn S. Krase, discusses how reporting is affected by one’s workplace environment such as how a private practitioner has the “ultimate authority” on reporting child maltreatment and how a social work practicing in an agency has to take into consideration the agency’s policies and supervisor’s directions.

Krase explains that a social worker working in an agency may experience “stress or contention” navigating agency policies and supervisors’ directions. Krase suggests the following suggestions to reduce feelings of stress such as:

  1. Conferring with colleagues and supervisors.
  2. Making a report in good faith even if there is some doubt.
  3. Have Child Protective determine the severity; and
  4. Knowing the state rights concerning child neglect and mistreatment in the state you practice.

Krase also reminds practitioners to remember the following: it is the your responsibility as a qualified mental health professional to report suspicions of child maltreatment even if your supervisors or colleagues urge you not to; and the high importance of documentation.

These are important guidelines to keep in mind in this always tenuous position. There might not be any harder job for a social worker than dealing with child abuse/neglect. It also happens to be the number one misunderstood aspect of social work and the reason there is such animosity toward our field. The more concise and consistent we are in regard to treatment, the better off social work will be.

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