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Catholic University Law Review

Abstract

All states allow the public to anonymously report suspicions of child abuse or neglect to a toll free central phone number. An extensive examination of the policy and practices behind anonymous reporting hotlines indicates that they are widely unregulated and susceptible to abuse. The possible repercussions of an anonymous phone call create costs to the family and society which do not outweigh the potential benefit of allowing anonymous public reports. Under the guise of protecting children, the law has developed in such a way that it infringes on the fundamental rights of parents and children. At the same time, anonymous reporting overburdens the system, causing us to overlook some child maltreatment that can be, and is otherwise, addressed through confidential and mandatory reporting. Given the severity of the rights and lives at stake, it is time to abolish anonymous public reporting of suspected child maltreatment.