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Assessing Health Care Professionals’ Child Maltreatment Reporting Attitudes

Introduction to Nurses Mandatory Reporting About Child Abuse

The Australian states have established child protection laws that require people and organizations to report suspected child neglect and abuse. The nurses in healthcare settings are legally required for many Australian jurisdictions to report their child neglect and abuse claims, with New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria expressly acknowledging the nurses as mandatory notifiers (Sarkar, Ozanne-Smith & Bassed, 2020)Because of the specific role of nurses in detecting and reporting alleged child abuse places them in a critical position of the job which contributes to stress in the profession (Lines, Hutton & Grant, 2017). The essay raises a variety of key questions about requirements for Australian nurses as mandatory notifier, child welfare awareness and education; organizational effects on child protection engagement by nurses; questions about suspecting and notifying consequences; security of the treatment process; and contact with other providers.

Across several states in Australia nurses are required to report alleged child neglect and abuse, but their presence can be heavy-handed. That is an issue when nursing staff are valuable assets in child protection. Their involvement in the health care system places them in an important role to identify and remove neglect and abuse of children. At the very same time, features of their position trigger notification challenges which lead to nurses being puzzled or unwilling participants

Mandatory Reporting

Notification enforced since the year 1960s has become a key global policy for protecting children. Australia introduced this idea in the 1970s, and although there is significant child welfare action across Australia, a common description of child exploitation or a cohesive approach to safeguarding children has yet to be developed. Consequently, legislation on child protection differs among Australian states, which contributes to ineffective communication between individuals and organizations dedicated to protecting kids (Sawrikar & Katz, 2017). The recognition of persons and organizations required to disclose alleged child abuse is a basic component of the child protection legislation. Others known as compulsory notifiers in Australia differ as per the laws of each state. Nurses are typically classified individually or included in categories of health professionals such as hospital staff. When complaints are made to any child protection organization of alleged child abuse, they are classified and responded to in terms of the expected seriousness (Johnson et al., 2018). Usually, notifiers do not have any further participation after a report has been made. Mandated notifiers are never needed to provide testimony in court, and the personal data are always protected within the records of the individual cases.

Educating Nurses as Mandatory Notifiers

Child abuse and maltreatment is a significant cause of admission in the hospitals. Therefore, the hospital staff record a substantial number of alleged child abuse cases per year; and nurses constitute the highest number of healthcare employees. Many accredited nursing programs for Australian students also provide information about child abuse (Lines, Grant & Hutton, 2018). Nevertheless, many professional nurses have provided little to no information about laws and procedures on child violence, and in many health care systems, it is not a priority for staff. Subsequently, in cases of child abuse and neglect, many nursing staff may practice without properly comprehending their legal obligation. Johnson et al (2018) conclude that mandatory notifiers are poorly educated of their role as notifiers, they do not know what to look and report. Larger study suggests that there is a requirement for more information on mandatory notifiers about child protection laws and the functions and obligations of professionals. Such venues are essential to understand protocols that represent the requirements and objectives of child protection law. Finally, all nurses have to ensure that they are informed of and behave in compliance with, the law that affects their profession.

Fear About Consequences

Regrettably, while increasing awareness may lead to notifying nurses of possible child violence, it may also escalate their fears and affect their notification actions. The literature review indicated that nurses are profoundly worried about the consequences of disclosing child abuse. The child abuse records, however, are missing. Consequently, the key concerns of nurses about reporting are for the child and the family of the child, and the impact of notification, because it will not necessarily improve the health of a child. Nurses may feel unsure when the outcome is at stake or refrain from reporting. Notifiers, therefore, lose all control over the outcomes and specifically the outcomes for the child and the parents until a warning is given to the child's programs (Segal et al., 2019). Besides, compulsory notifiers are excluded from the investigation, and usually provide no or very little information on the outcomes from child welfare programs. Many of the nurses' fears are about the consequences for themselves rather than their families. For healthcare professionals such as nurses, being confronted by an angry individual convicted of mistreating a child, or being threatened by a select minority can have significant professional and personal implications (Johnstone, 2019). The policy for health organizations must include strategies for preventing and resolving these options.

Protecting Relationship of Nurse and Client

The expertise of nurses is well used in several ways and they might even see neglected children in various environments, whether the child is the main victim or not. It is standard practice for nurses to build positive and meaningful relationships with either the infant or the alleged abuser. Therefore, access to private and confidential client information is needed at the heart of the nursing profession (Maharaj, Lees & Lal, 2019). This awareness and partnerships challenge and overlap the professional boundaries of nurses, leading to personal and professional dilemmas, especially when deciding on issues of emotional social justice like notifying suspected child abuse. First, mandatory monitoring threatens the nurses' therapeutic relationship with their clients. Second, carers may choose to avoid reporting because they believe that child protection measures are likely to cause more damage to families already in distress. Third, several nurses believe dishonesty amounts to harassment by the police and the customer. It's hard for the nurse to act on a perception that violence is occurring as they have a sense of failing their patients (Schaepe & Ewers, 2017).

Working in Interprofessional Team

Most professional associations believe that child exploitation is a significant issue that interprofessional teamwork best faces. Although such cooperation should work well in child protection, given the shared objective of child safety, many factors result in inadequate or incoherent co-operation among health professionals (Bell, 2018). The security programs for children tend to be segregated from other practitioners and society. Under child protection law, confidentiality and discretion are key elements to protect those involved and ensure that legal proceedings are unaffected. Differences in power dominant attitudes hinder efficient contact and cooperation between professionals. If child protection practitioners want to work in isolation from other practitioners, they are supported by their legislative body status. Nonetheless, lack of coordination results in nurses having trouble disclosing alleged child violence to the child protection system (Einboden, Rudge & Varcoe, 2019). Initially, they encounter feelings of not being trusted or concerned about the essence of the measures that child protection practitioners should implement. Second, after a report is created, nurses are typically excluded from the process and provide little to no input on results.

Departmental Influences on Nurses’ Roles as Mandated Notifiers

The nurses have opportunities to detect child abuse regardless of where they work. Experience with child victims, however, and the ability to presume and participate in child abuse situations, can be affected by the working atmosphere and climate of nurses. But conventional medical or unit level procedures may prevent children from being covered by nurses (Foster et al., 2107). For example, the organization could have a culture that allows child violence to be devalued and fully overlooked. This could be advised that nursing staff assign the reporting duties to physicians or other professionals. Nevertheless, under these situations, nurses can be major contributors to child protection and can assess their status, legal obligations, and professional and personal commitment to child welfare (Pecora et al., 2018). The nurses will never hesitate to promote organizational practices that help neglected children to comply with the laws and have positive results.

Conclusion on Nurses Mandatory Reporting About Child Abuse

The nurses play a significant part in recognizing and helping the neglected children. The nurses working in different units have contact with children and are in good positions to identify and investigate child violence. Nonetheless, evidence indicates that Australian registered nurses and other nurses may encounter problems in their mandatory position as notifiers. This can be affected by many factors involving organizational protocols, risks to clinical ties, and reporting consequences. At first, the practical knowledge of laws affecting practice by nurses must be updated. They must meet with the standard of board of nurses or child protection services of the relevant state. Second, nurses may lobby to influence staff education material on legislation impacting practice. Third, to ensure that procedures and guidelines match state law, nurses should be active in organizational processes. Nursing presence in committees is likely to ensure that nurses are not excluded or subjected to professional and legal consequences through policies and procedures. Finally, by demonstrating proactive strategies and relying on cooperation with other providers and child protection agencies, nurses will influence the health of abused children.

References for Nurses Mandatory Reporting About Child Abuse

Bell, M. (2018). Child protection: Families and the conference process. Taylor & Francis Ltd Routledge.

Einboden, R., Rudge, T., & Varcoe, C. (2019). Beyond and around mandatory reporting in nursing practice: Interrupting a series of deferrals. Nursing Inquiry, 26(2), e12285.

Foster, R. H., Olson-Dorff, D., Reiland, H. M., & Budzak-Garza, A. (2017). Commitment, confidence, and concerns: Assessing health care professionals’ child maltreatment reporting attitudes. Child Abuse & Neglect, 67, 54-63.

Johnson, K. B., Doecke, E., Damarell, R. A., & Grantham, H. (2018). Do training programs improve a paramedic’s ability to identify and report child abuse and neglect? A systematic review. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine, 15(3).

Johnstone, M. J. (2019). Bioethics: A nursing perspective. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Lines, L. E., Hutton, A. E., & Grant, J. (2017). Integrative review: Nurses' roles and experiences in keeping children safe. Journal of Advanced Nursing 73(2), 302-322.

Lines, L., Grant, J., & Hutton, A. (2018). How do nurses keep children safe from abuse and neglect, and does it make a difference? A scoping review. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 43, e75-e84.

Maharaj, S., Lees, T., & Lal, S. (2019). Prevalence and risk factors of depression, anxiety, and stress in a cohort of Australian nurses. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(1), 61.

Pecora, P. J., Whittaker, J. K., Barth, R. P., Borja, S., & Vesneski, W. (2018). The child welfare challenge: Policy, practice, and research. Taylor & Francis Ltd. Routledge.

Sarkar, R., Ozanne-Smith, J., & Bassed, R. (2020). Mandatory reporting of child physical abuse and dental neglect by Australian dentists. Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology, 16(1), 134-142.

Sawrikar, P., & Katz, I. (2017). Barriers to disclosing child sexual abuse (CSA) in ethnic minority communities: A review of the literature and implications for practice in Australia. Children and Youth Services Review, 83, 302-315.

Schaepe, C., & Ewers, M. (2017). ‘I need complete trust in nurses’–home mechanical ventilated patients’ perceptions of safety. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 31(4), 948-956.

Segal, L., Nguyen, H., Mansor, M. M., Gnanamanickam, E., Doidge, J. C., Preen, D. B., ... & Armfield, J. M. (2019). Lifetime risk of child protection system involvement in South Australia for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children, 1986–2017 using linked administrative data. Child Abuse & Neglect, 97, 104145.

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