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Pros and Cons of Mandatory Reporting

Mandatory reporting was intended to increase the safety and improve the care of people who have experienced violence. In addition, states intended to use these reports as a way to hold abusers and perpetrators accountable and improve their data collection systems. While some agree with this position, other advocates have raised concerns about mandatory reporting, 1including that it: undermines the autonomy of the victim/survivor, compromises expectations of confidentiality within victim/survivor-worker relationships, and severely challenges the assurance of informed consent. 2

Pros

Supporters of mandatory reporting believe that mandatory reporting can enhance victim/survivor safety by:

  • linking people with services that will provide information and referrals to improve their living situations,
  • getting victim/survivors away from abusers and perpetrators;
  • reporting violence, abuse, and sexual assault to increase the number of cases reaching authorities and being documented, thereby increasing an understanding of the prevalence of such violence and its incidence; and
  • offering an opportunity to provide training on issues of violence to professionals and persons who are mandatory reporters.

Cons

Some feel that mandatory reporting may create more harm than good. They believe that risks and consequences of mandatory reporting can include:

  • retaliation by abuser/perpetrator/stalker,
  • broken trust and confidentiality,
  • damage to an individuals’ right to self-determination, an issue that is of particular concern when working with people with disabilities, and
  • damaging the relationship between the victim/survivor and service provider, and, ultimately, leading to victims/survivors not seeking help or not returning to services.

1Hyman, Ariella, JD. Mandatory Reporting of Domestic Violence by Health Care Providers: A Policy Paper. Family Violence Prevention Fund, 1997.


2Johnson, Rhonda M., MPH, CFNP.Rural Health Response to Domestic Violence: Policy and Practice Issues: Emerging Public Policy Issues and Best PracticesU.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Health Resources and Services Administration, 2000. 18 Aug. 2006.