Liability Issues in Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Statutes

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Child Abuse; Liability, Legal; Mandatory Reporting


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


For nearly 30 years, psychologists have relied almost exclusively on child abuse and neglect reporting statutes to understand the legal duty to report child maltreatment. Although these statutes go far in delineating the contours of reporting requirements, mandated reporters may further their understandings of their duties through knowledge of judicial interpretation of these statutes. Accordingly, this article reviews the liability provisions found in the 50 states' child abuse and neglect reporting statutes and summarizes relevant court findings. Courts seem motivated by 2 key considerations, namely, that statutes should be interpreted broadly and that states' interests in such reporting is compelling. These opinions offer practical guidance as well as information relevant to the debate on how these reporting statutes should be reformed.


Small, M. A., Lyons, P. M., & Guy, L. S. (2002). Liability issues in child abuse and neglect reporting statutes. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33, 13-18.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Professional Psychology: Research and Practice