Child abuse and maltreatment or neglect are serious problems that affect people from all walks of life all across the country. “During 2014, the [New York] SCR hotline received 294,356 calls, which resulted in 156,515 reports being electronically transmitted to LDSSs [local departments of social services] for further action. The SCR handled 262,000 Database Check Clearance requests, 8,000 Administrative Review requests and received 12,000 Requests for Information” (NYOCFS, 2014).
The impact of child abuse and neglect is often discussed in terms of physical, psychological, behavioral, or societal consequences; in reality, however, it is impossible to separate them completely. Physical consequences such as damage to a child’s growing brain can have psychological implications such as cognitive delays or emotional difficulties. Psychological problems often manifest as high-risk behavior. Depression and anxiety may make a person more likely to smoke, abuse drugs or alcohol, or overeat. High-risk behaviors, in turn, can lead to long-term physical health problems such as sexually transmitted infections, cancer, or obesity. Furthermore, children who are abused are at increased risk of abusing their own children (CWIG, 2013).
The State of New York requires that certain professionals intercede on behalf of the helpless victims of child abuse by making an official report when they have reasonable cause to suspect that such abuse may be taking place. These professionals, called mandated reporters, are in a unique position to help interrupt the complex and damaging cycle of violence that results from child abuse and maltreatment/neglect.