In all states, many professionals are legally designated mandated reporters of suspected child maltreatment. In some states, adults in the general public are mandated reporters as well. Commonly referred to as universal mandated reporting, New Jersey’s statute is typical:
Any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse or acts of child abuse shall report the same immediately to DCF’s Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) by telephone or otherwise. Such reports, where possible, shall contain the names and addresses of the child and his parent, guardian, or other person having custody and control of the child and, if known, the child’s age, the nature and possible extent of the child’s injuries, abuse or maltreatment, including any evidence of previous injuries, abuse or maltreatment, and any other information that the person believes may be helpful with respect to the child abuse and the identity of the perpetrator.
Suspicion is not proof, which may be why some mandated reporters hesitate making a report. A recent meta-analysis found that mandated reporters were oftentimes reluctant to report abuse in cases when the abuse was either less apparent, mild, or experienced by children with disabilities, favoring reporting cases with overt physical evidence.