Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2012

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major


First Advisor

David Finkelhor


Scandals at Penn State and Syracuse University have the world talking about mandatory reporting. There no debate in the academic community concerning the detrimental effects of child maltreatment and neglect, but the debate concerning mandatory reporting is ongoing. This study looks at the effectiveness of universal mandatory reporting of child maltreatment versus the current statute of mandated reporting for only certain professions in the states of New York and Pennsylvania. When Pennsylvania changed its legislation to a universal mandatory reporting law, it experienced a great increase, of 500%, in the number of substantiated reports of child maltreatment. While this increase was substantial, because of the low rates of substantiated reports in Pennsylvania to begin with, this increase did not prove to be statistically significant. Also, negative outcomes such as unreasonable financial expenditure and possible negative side effects for children involved in unsubstantiated reports detract from the illustration of the effectiveness of universal mandatory reporting. However, this study demonstrates that a policy change concerning mandatory reporting could detect more cases of child maltreatment and help put a stop to child abuse.