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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.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.Referrals in most states are screened to determine which are investigated – many clearly do not constitute abuse or neglect, or provide insufficient information to conduct an investigation.Rates of screening vary considerably between states – some investigate all reports, others screen out between 5% to 78% in this manner.These laws and the media and advocacy coverage and research brought about a gradual change in societal expectations on reporting in the United States and, at different rates, in other western nations.Originally created to respond to physical abuse, reporting systems in various countries began to expand to address sexual and emotional abuse, neglect, and exposure to domestic abuse.

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Typically, minimum requirements for what must be reported include: Typically, reporters are encouraged to report their suspicions and not to investigate or wait for absolute proof, which can lead to further harm directed at the suspected victim, and allow for perpetrators to prepare their defence through intimidation.Each year, approximately 85% of hotline calls either do not warrant investigation or are not substantiated.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.Failure to act may result in even stiffer penalties, such as civil litigation or criminal prosecution with the prospect of potential imprisonment.Conflicts between a mandated reporter's duties and some privileged communication statutes are common but, in general, attorney-client privileges and clergy-penitent privileges are usually exempt from mandatory reporting. psychologists are also exempt from mandatory reporting.

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