Blog

The Unintended Consequences of Mandatory Reporting

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 14, 2022 | 0 Comments

In 2012, the infamous child sex abuse trial of Penn State football coach, Jerry Sandusky, took place. During the proceedings, it was revealed that an assistant coach had witnessed the coach molesting an underage boy a decade prior and reported nothing. The resulting outrage on the part of the public was intense. As a result, Pennsylvania quickly expanded its list of professionals considered mandatory reporters, along with the legal definition of child abuse and the penalties facing those who fail their duty to report. The results of this expansion, however, have reached far past what was expected. Here is a look at mandatory reporting laws and their effects across Pennsylvania.

What is the Purpose of Mandatory Reporting?

Child abuse is a crime that is often ongoing for many years before it is brought to the attention of the police or ChildLine. Many cases are never discovered or reported. Mandatory reporting laws were enacted to require professionals who have regular contact with children to report any signs of possible abuse to authorities. The purpose of this requirement is to protect children from abuse and neglect as early as possible so that they have a higher chance of going on to live a functional life as adult citizens. Since it is common for people to shy away from inserting themselves into what can feel like a private parenting matter, mandatory reporting laws include legal penalties for professionals who are classified as mandatory reporters and fail to report signs of abuse or neglect. Those penalties can range from a misdemeanor to felony criminal charges in addition to civil liability.

Who is Considered a Mandatory Reporter?

In Pennsylvania, there are currently 15 categories of professionals who are considered mandatory reporters. These cover all licensed medical providers, funeral directors, child care center and school employees, religious and law enforcement officials, library employees, certain attorneys, foster parents, and more. Generally speaking, anyone who has access to or holds a position of authority over children in any capacity of their profession is now required to report possible signs of abuse or neglect without any evidence required.

What are the Side Effects of Mandatory Reporting Laws?

When Pennsylvania expanded its mandatory reporting laws in the wake of the Sandusky trial, reports of potential abuse rose a startling 72% over the next five years. As many as nine out of ten of these increased reports were eventually dismissed as unfounded after an investigation was conducted. It appears that the threat of legal action against professionals who fail to report any possible sign of abuse or neglect may have largely resulted in limited resources being utilized for the investigation of cases that largely do not reveal serious abuse or neglect.

How the LLF Law Firm Can Help

If you are involved in a child abuse or neglect investigation due to mandatory reporting, you need an attorney to represent your side of the story and the interests of your family unit as a whole. Childline investigations are not subject to the same rules of due process that regulate a criminal investigation. LLF's Criminal Law Team has a long history of protecting the rights of parents and will fight to keep your family together. Call the LLF Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or reach out online to discuss your case.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!

Comments

There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!

The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

Menu