Vol. 1 No. 1 (2023): Abolitionist Perspectives in Social Work

Beyond Mandated Reporting: Debunking Assumptions to Support Children and Families

Published 06/14/2023


  • child welfare,
  • child protective services,
  • mandated reporting,
  • family regulation system,
  • family policing system,
  • abolition,
  • social work
  • ...More


This paper critically examines mandated reporting laws for child maltreatment within the profession of social work. It analyzes the history and current use of mandated reporting laws in the United States and debunks three assumptions that uphold the practice of mandated reporting: that mandated reporting is accurate in identifying child maltreatment; that mandated reporting is, at worst, a neutral practice; and that mandated reporting ultimately helps to prevent and/or treat harm to children. In the final section, the author presents guidelines for social workers to implement abolitionist reforms to mandated reporting. The author argues that, in tandem with growing calls to abolish the family policing system and reimagine child welfare, social workers should grapple with the implications of mandated reporting laws on families and the profession of social work and seek to reduce the harms of mandated reporting wherever possible.