Decision-Making Factors in the Mandatory Reporting of Child Maltreatment

  • Lea Tufford
  • Barbara Lee


The goal of this exploratory study was to investigate the factors that may impact a social worker’s decision to report suspected child maltreatment. A volunteer sample of social workers (n = 439) from Ontario, Canada completed an online survey where they reviewed three hypothetical vignettes of potential child maltreatment (exposure to intimate partner violence, physical, emotional). Social workers responded to questions regarding their decision-making and the factors which would impact their reporting decision (legal requirements, ethnicity of caregivers, circumstances around disclosure, reporting history, consultation or supervision, field of practice). A series of multiple logistic regression analyses were performed for each version of the three vignettes. The study found that consultation or supervision were significant predictors in social worker’s decision to report suspected child maltreatment. Peer consultation may assist with emotional regulation and provide an outside perspective to guide decision-making.


Mandatory reporting Child maltreatment Child abuse and neglect Decision-making Culture Social work Vignette Survey 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest



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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkLaurentian UniversityBarrieCanada
  2. 2.School of Social WorkUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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