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Douglas J. Besharov

In: Current Controversies on Family Violence

Chapter 18: Overreporting and Underreporting Child Abuse and Neglect Are Twin Problems

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Overreporting and Underreporting Child Abuse and Neglect Are Twin Problems
Overreporting and underreporting child abuse and neglect are twin problems
Douglas J.Besharov

Child protective agencies are plagued simultaneously by the twin problems of under- and overreporting of child abuse and neglect. On one hand, many abused and neglected children go unreported because they are afraid to come forward on their own and they are overlooked by informed professionals. The price is great: Failure to report exposes children to serious injury and even death. On the other hand, a large proportion of reports are dismissed after investigations find insufficient evidence upon which to proceed. Variously called “unfounded,” “unsubstantiated,” or “not indicated,” these cases divert resources from already understaffed agencies, thus limiting their ability to protect children in real ...

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