Examining the evidence: reporter identity, allegation type, and sociodemographic characteristics as predictors of maltreatment substantiation

Child Maltreat. 2013 Nov;18(4):232-44. doi: 10.1177/1077559513508001. Epub 2013 Oct 11.


Using linked administrative data from child protection and birth records in California, this study examined whether the mandated status and type of reporter are independent predictors of substantiation among infants and young children across maltreatment types and after adjusting for characteristics of the child and family. Of the 59,413 children born in 2002 who were reported and investigated for maltreatment before the age of 5 years, 26% were substantiated. Reports originating from mandated sources were 2.5 times as likely (95% confidence interval, CI [2.40, 2.60]) to be substantiated as those from nonmandated reporters. Findings demonstrated that children whose allegations were reported by law enforcement, medical professionals, and workers in public agencies were consistently substantiated at higher rates than allegations from other mandated reporters. Results also indicated that the relationship between reporter type and the likelihood of substantiation varied by maltreatment type. Children reported by law enforcement for physical abuse were 6.3 times as likely (95% CI [4.86, 8.04]) to be substantiated as those reported by nonmandated sources.

Keywords: child maltreatment; child protective services; mandated reporters; mandatory reporting laws; substantiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Birth Certificates
  • California
  • Child Abuse / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Child Welfare / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Child Welfare / statistics & numerical data
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mandatory Reporting*
  • Risk Factors