Innocence should be presumed unless and until evidence establishing guilt is obtained and it must be remembered that only suspicions are being reported.
States frequently amend their laws, but as of November 2013, all States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U. Virgin Islands have statutes identifying persons who are required to report suspected child maltreatment to an appropriate agency.
Approximately 48 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands designate professions whose members are mandated by law to report child maltreatment.
Mandated professions may include, but are not limited to the following:, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report suspected abuse or neglect regardless of profession in 18 States and Puerto Rico.
Its publication changed the prevalent views in the United States, where child abuse was previously seen as uncommon, and not a regular issue.
In 1974, the United States Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), which provides funds to states for development of Child Protective Services (CPS) and hotlines to prevent serious injuries to children.
Approximately 78% of all investigations are unsubstantiated and approximately 22% are substantiated, with around 9% where "alternative responses" are offered in some states, which have a focus on working with the family to address issues rather than confirming maltreatment.
In many parts of the world, mandated reporters are people who have regular contact with vulnerable people such as children, disabled persons, and senior citizens, and are therefore legally required to ensure a report is made when abuse is observed or suspected.
Specific details vary across jurisdictions—the abuse that must be reported may include neglect, or financial, physical, sexual, or other types of abuse.
Most US states provide the privilege, typically in rules of evidence or civil procedure, and the confidentiality privilege has also been extended to non-Catholic clergy and non-Sacramental counseling.
Law enforcement or public health agencies are responsible for immediately evaluating all reports of abuse.