Child abuse, the holidays and mandated reporting

Right now we are at the height of the holiday season, full of fun, food, and festivities. However, it also includes increased stress, especially during intense family situations, and it isn’t uncommon for child abuse rates and reports to increase during this time. A recent article from Tri-Cities News in Tennessee touches on this problem of how with the holidays comes an increased pressure and strain, which often leads to an increase in exposure to violence and possibly incidence of abuse. WOWKTV 12 in Charleston, South Carolina also shares a report about domestic violence increasing over the holidays and endangering children and families. These situations demonstrate why it is so important that people are aware of what abuse is, the signs to look for, and when and where to report it.

So keeping this and the holidays in mind, we want to finish our discussion about mandated reporting by remembering why this topic is so important.

Looking back over the past couple of weeks, we:

  1. Opened with a discussion about the Penn State scandal.
  2. Looked at what mandated reporting is and who is responsible for reporting.
  3. Examined the role of reporting in systems and the barriers to reporting
  4. And finally, discussed mandated reporting in practice and its implications.

All of this is important because of the effect that abuse and neglect on children who experience it. Futures Without Violence recently highlighted the new Center for Disease Control (CDC) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, or NISVS. The report’s findings show that…

…on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, based on a survey conducted in 2010. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men.

Similarly, early this week, the United Nations (UN) adopted further protocol for protection children from violence and abuse. Both of these recent developments reiterate how important it is for nations to be vigilant about understanding abuse and neglect and how they can work to clarify the definition of abuse, reporting laws, and what needs to be done to put those laws into practice. Recognizing and further addressing the problem of abuse and maltreatment shows the United States’ commitment to protecting and giving children a voice. This makes the new congressional dialogue about mandated reporting statutes even more timely.

So as we enter the New Year, we should remember the importance of protecting children against all kinds of violence. Having proper legislation in place, like mandated reporting laws, is only the beginning. The next step is to train people, raise awareness, and encourage people to embrace change.

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