Bronfein Family Law Clinic Fellow Shanta Trivedi contributed an op-ed to today’s Baltimore Sun that advocates against a proposed state bill to criminally penalize “mandatory reporters” who fail to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
Bills in the Maryland House and Senate propose criminal penalties for certain professionals – including teachers, counselors, social workers and nurses – and would build on a 2016 law that can result in professionals’ losing their license for failure to report suspected abuse or neglect of children.
Even Del. Kathleen Dumais (D-Montgomery Co.), who sponsored the 2016 “loss of license” bill, believes the proposed law goes too far and could lead to “fear-induced” reports, Trivedi writes.
Moreover, Trivedi says, an increase in such reports would stress Maryland’s already overburdened child welfare system:
“According to the Child Welfare League of America, Maryland had more than 50,000 total referrals for child abuse and neglect in 2014 — and less than half of these were referred for investigation because they lacked the necessary factual basis. Thus, Maryland already suffers from an over-reporting problem, not an under-reporting one. This law, if passed, would make the problem worse, not better.”