Mandatory reporting of suspected child maltreatment in New Zealand Early Childhood Centres

Kerr, Kathy
Keelan, Josie
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Master of Arts in Youth Development
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Auckland University of Technology

The focus of this research is to investigate the discussion regarding the introduction of mandatory reporting through the views on confidence in reporting of current practitioners working in Early Childhood Education Centres in Aotearoa/ New Zealand, and to discover whether their views in regard to recognising and reporting suspected child maltreatment reflect those views articulated in overseas literature. This research is discussed against the backdrop of informed opinion of established child advocates identified as experts in their field who were asked whether mandatory reporting of suspected child maltreatment is a useful tool in disrupting the negative experiences visited upon children and young people.

The discussion in the body of the research is predicated on the understanding that prolonged exposure to trauma in early childhood alters the architecture of the brain and has long lasting effects which compromises the physical and emotional well being of our young people, as well as damaging their ability to make a strong, positive contribution to society.

The early childhood practitioners who participated were asked to fill out a questionnaire which contained ten quantitative responses and two qualitative responses. To complement the responses of the practitioners, five interviews were undertaken with individuals known as experts within the field of child advocacy. Their inclusion was sought to provide a broader perspective to the debate regarding the pros and cons of mandatory reporting. These interviews were undertaken either through telephone interviews, written material, and the computer programme, Skype. The researcher wanted to reflect an authentic Aotearoa/ New Zealand voice to a discussion which has largely relied upon overseas research to inform its views.

The researcher then discusses future strategies should mandatory reporting be introduced in the future, as well as broader based alternatives if voluntary reporting is to be maintained

Mandatory reporting , Early childhood education , Child abuse
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