Resilience in the context of child maltreatment: Connections to the practice of mandatory reporting
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A human rights perspective places the care for children in the obligation sphere. The duty to protect from violence is an outcome of having a declaration confirming inalienable human rights. Nationally, rights may be reflected in constitutions, charters, and criminal codes. Transnationally, the United Nation's (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) prioritizes a child's basic human rights, given their dependent status. UN CRC signatory countries commit to implementing minimal standards of care for minors. Laws requiring professionals to report child maltreatment to authorities is one practical strategy to implement minimal child protection and service standards. Mandatory reporting laws officially affirm the wrong of maltreatment and the right of children. Mandatory reporting can be conceptualized as part of a resilience process, where the law sets the stage for child safety and well-being planning. Although widely enacted law, sizeable research gaps exist in terms of statistics on mandatory reporting compliance in key settings; obstacles and processes in mandatory reporting; the provision of evidence-based training to support the duty to report; and the training-reporting-child outcomes relationship, this latter area being virtually non-existent. The fact that mandatory reporting is not presently evidence-based cannot be separated from this lack of research activity in mandatory reporting. Reporting is an intervention that requires substantial inter-professional investment in research to guide best practices, with methodological expectations of any clinical intervention. Child abuse reporting is consistent with a clinician's other duties to report (i.e., suicidality, homicidality), practice-based skills (e.g., delivering "bad" news, giving assessment feedback), and the pervasive professional principle of best interests of the child. Resilience requires the presence of resources and, mandated reporting, is one such resource to the maltreated child. Practice strategies identified in the literature are discussed.
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