The Effect of Statutory Regulations on Social Workers’ Decisions to Report Child Maltreatment

Vicki Ashton


This study examined social workers’ perceptions of the New York State law requiring the reporting of child maltreatment and the relationship of those perceptions with the likelihood that workers would report incidents of maltreatment to child protective services. Data were collected by a mailed questionnaire from a sample of 710 social workers belonging to the New York City chapter of NASW. Findings show that social workers differ in their understanding of the law and that the worker’s understanding is related to reporting behavior. The worker’s understanding of the law had a small but significant effect on the likelihood of reporting, accounting for 6% of the variance. The binomial effect size of the relationship (r = .24) is such that a worker’s understanding of the law is sufficient to increase the likelihood of reporting a case of maltreatment from 38% to 62%. Implications for practice are discussed.


law and reporting; mandated reporters and social work; maltreatment and reporting

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