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Adult Mandatory Abuse Reporting Laws: A Primer for Changing the Law to Empower and Protect Survivors

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Objective: In this paper, we examine mandatory abuse reporting laws and present arguments for improved protection of domestic abuse survivors. Methods: Using Wisconsin as an example, our analysis reviews Wisconsin law, the Wisconsin Medical Society's domestic violence policy, mandatory reporting laws of other states, unintended risks associated with mandatory reporting, and survivors' attitudes about mandatory reporting. Results: Our analysis produced 5 policy alternatives to mandatory reporting, based in part, on their potential effectiveness, as well as their administrative and political feasibility. Conclusions: Possible alternatives include: (1) adding a patient consent provision to current statutory language; (2) repealing or revising current statutory language; (3) having non-law enforcement officials become alternative recipients of any mandated reports; (4) protecting survivor identity; and (5) creating an exception to existing statutory language that would be applicable providing the survivor is an adult, is injured as a result of domestic violence, does not consent to disclosure, and is provided with appropriate referrals to domestic abuse protective agencies.
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Keywords: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE; HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS; MANDATORY REPORTING; VICTIM ADVOCACY; VICTIM EMPOWERMENT

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2018

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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