Are researchers ethically obligated to report suspected child maltreatment? A critical analysis of opposing perspectives

Ethics and Behavior 19 (1):15 – 24 (2009)
Abstract
A number of authors have commented on the topic of mandated reporting in cases of suspected child maltreatment and the application of this requirement to researchers. Most of these commentaries focus on the interpretation of current legal standards and offer opinions for or against the imposition of mandated reporting laws on research activities. Authors on both sides of the issue offer ethical arguments, although a direct comparison and analysis of these opposing arguments is rare. This article critically examines the ethical arguments made by authors on both sides of the debate. The conclusion is reached that researchers should be mandated reporters of child maltreatment because the current arguments do not justify their exclusion from current ethical and legal standards. The author makes recommendations for the ethically responsible conduct of research in regard to this topic and legal implications are discussed.
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