Editorial2017

The Unintended Effect in Mandatory Reporting Laws and an Increased Risk to a Protected Population

ABSTRACT

Insufficient definitions within New York State’s mandatory reporting laws have created a “legal-ethical feedback loop” (Johnston, 2015) that can cause an increase in potential victims through the exclusion of certain persons seeking treatment. These non-offending individuals seeking treatment for pedophilia can become subjects of investigations by Child Protective Services because of ambiguous language in the laws, wherein their treatment is jeopardized. This paper will examine how the langue of current New York statutes creates a propensity for over-reporting possible abuse cases when they are unfounded, and potentially risks increasing the number of sexual abuse victims because of a lack of access to or trust in licensed clinicians. This paper proposes several alternatives to closing this “feedback loop” and thereby further protecting one of New York’s most vulnerable populations: children.