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| 1 minute read

Colorado Re-evaluates Mandated Reporting

Colorado has become the second state to evaluate whether mandated reporting laws have the benefits that advocates think they do. Although the commission established to review the laws expected to be able to reach some quick conclusions about strengthening the law, its members discovered a surprising amount of opposition.  

They also were surprised to hear opposition from the community that the laws were designed to protect. Victims’ advocates were among some of the strongest critics, pointing out that laws requiring “trusted adults to make an immediate report can become another reason for teens and adolescents to stay silent, and not to seek support at all.”

Another criticism is that there is no evidence that mandated reporting laws actually prevent abuse. The first state to review mandated reporting laws was Massachusetts, and its commission disbanded without making any recommendations. In its 2021 report, the commission noted that it did not recommend moving to requiring everyone to be a mandated reporter because “although there is evidence that universal reporting schemes increase the number of child abuse and neglect reports that are made, there is no evidence that universal reporting schemes result in an increase in substantiated reports.”

Child protection is too important a matter to be left to guesswork. More states need to take a long look at mandated reporter laws and base policies on actual evidence of actual effects. We should no longer be content with assumptions.

Staff at [Project Safeguard] would like confidential victims’ advocates to be exempt from reporting requirements. They say immediately reporting can stop people from seeking help, destroy fragile plans to seek safety, and escalate violence by an abuser who is tipped off by a child protection worker.  “Every day, they see the harm this causes and the ways in which it makes children less safe,” [the group’s Executive Director] told legislators.


child abuse, mandated reporting, ausburn_deborah, youth services law, insights