CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


Mental Health Professionals and Suspected Cases of Child Abuse: An Investigation of Factors Influencing Reporting


The prevalence and effects of child abuse have been reported in numerous studies. Although mandatory reporting laws require professionals to report suspected cases of child abuse, studies have indicated that large percentages of mental health professionals report selectively. The present study investigates professionals'' tendency to report and attribution of responsibility for child abuse. One-hundred and one mental health clinicians working within three community mental health centers (CMHCs) completed experimentally controlled vignettes manipulating victim age, type of abuse, and victim reactions during an interview. Results indicated 81% of the clinicians tended to report the presented case of child abuse. Clinicians'' tendency to report depended on the level of certainty they had that abuse was occurring. Professionals'' attribution of responsibility to the father and mother varied as a function of the type of abuse occurring. The impact of victim characteristics on clinicians'' reporting is discussed.

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Dr. Diane Follingstad had not been a faculty member of the University of Kentucky at the time of publication.

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