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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/194

Title: Physical abuse or physical discipline, how do clinicians decide?
Authors: Thomas, Lori Charissa
Keywords: Child abuse — Reporting;Child abuse -- Law and legislation
Issue Date: 27-Aug-2003
Abstract: More than two decades after Kempe and colleagues (1962) identified child maltreatment as a major threat to the health and welfare of children in the United States, states are still struggling with how to legally protect the nation’s children. While all 50 states have mandatory reporting laws, these statutes have been criticized, for their ambiguity, over reliance on physical factors to the exclusion of emotional abuse or neglect and for failing to provide reporters with sufficient guidance in determining what constitutes abuse. Despite these criticisms, the effect of legal definitions on reporting behavior has not been systematically studied. The present study employed a 2 (overt versus subtle symptoms) X 2 (broad versus. narrow law) factorial design to investigate two components of an evidence-based decision making model. There were three main hypotheses regarding the outcome of the study: (a) A main effect was expected for evidence of abuse; (b) a main effect was expected for type of law; and (c) a significant interaction between type of law and evidence of abuse was expected. A mail survey was sent to 500 members of the American Psychological Association, which contained a legal definition of abuse and a hypothetical case describing potential indicators of abuse. A two-way factorial analysis of variance was employed to assess whether responses to the following variables (a) likelihood that abuse was occurring, (b) legal duty to report and (c) likelihood of reporting the case to child protective services, varied as a function of evidence of abuse and type of law. A main effect was found for evidence of abuse. Participants whose hypothetical scenario contained more overt symptoms of abuse were more likely to report that abuse was occurring, F (1, 157) = 12.20, p<. 01 rate their legal duty to report as more definite, F (1, 156) = 60.25, p<. 001, and indicate a more definite duty to report the abuse to child protective services F (1, 157) = 60.88 p < .001. No main effect was found for type of law and there was no significant interaction between evidence of abuse and type of law.
URI: http://dspace.library.drexel.edu/handle/1860/194
Appears in Collections:Drexel Theses and Dissertations

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