Child Abuse Reporting: Rethinking Child Protection | Journal of the American Medical Association
What is the appropriate course for promoting prompt reporting of abuse, while still ensuring that respected individuals are not falsely accused? Ideally, state law would place a clear duty on all those in a position of trust to report promptly, not only to their supervisors but also to civil or criminal authorities. Given the vulnerability of young people under the supervision of a sports coach or clergyman, the law should require that abuse of adolescents, as well as children, be mandatorily reportable. The law should also have meaningful penalties for failure to report in cases in which there is good reason to suspect abuse. In the case of Penn State, failure to report is a criminal misdemeanor with limited legal ramifications. In addition to legal changes, institutions should develop internal, transparent processes to prevent and report abuse, such as employee background checks, impartial and anonymous reporting outlets, open-door policies, and ombudsmen charged with educating staff and uncovering abuse.