Legislation passed in the aftermath of the Sandusky child abuse scandal at Penn State expanded the professions defined as "mandatory reporters" of suspected child abuse, under penalty of law, instituting required training for licensing. Furthermore, any individual not designated as a mandatory reporter was now, in a somewhat Orwellian turn, defined a "permissive reporter." The result, as this audit made clear, was the creation of a system of massive reporting, yet one that lacks the funds or personnel to address these reports. The majority of the reports did not in fact involve children in imminent danger.
Overburdened case workers may fail to identify and protect the child who is being seriously abused and needs immediate intervention to protect his or her life, while slogging through piles of paperwork generated by spurious or unnecessary reports.
Mical Raz, MD, PhD is a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center and at the University of Pennsylvania.