School psychologists' attitudes towards reporting child abuse

Marion Meyers, Pace University


Research on the reporting of child abuse by various groups of professionals has shown that underreporting is a serious and extensive problem despite mandatory reporting laws. Reasons for underreporting tend to cluster into the following categories; (1) Lack of knowledge of legal issues and ramifications. (2) Lack of knowledge of the symptoms of child abuse. (3) Attitudes towards reporting abuse. (4) Stereotypes and prior conceptions about abuse may affect the individual's ability to recognise child abuse. The present study investigated these issues as they apply to school psychologists. A questionnaire originally developed by Pelcovitz (1977) for use with teachers, was adapted for use with school psychologists. The questionnaire was also updated to include additional questions on sexual abuse. It was sent to a random sample of 50% of the school psychologists in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Long Island, New York. Forty two and a half percent of the sample returned the questionnaire (N = 128). The vast majority of respondents reported having had the experience of suspecting that a student in their school was a victim of child abuse, and 86% of the sample indicated that they had reported at least one case of abuse. In general the group displayed adequate awareness of their basic legal obligations in dealing with abused children. Although the results of this survey often suggested a fair amount of knowledge about child abuse on the part of the psychologists, it became apparent that certain issues presented greater conflict for them and that many respondents were unaware of the importance of certain signs and symptoms of abuse. Thus further areas of training were suggested. The need for specific training in the area of child abuse was also suggested by the fact that approximately half of the sample felt that their training in this area had been inadequate.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Academic guidance counseling|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

Meyers, Marion, "School psychologists' attitudes towards reporting child abuse" (1988). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9030837.



Remote User: Click Here to Login (must have Pace University remote login ID and password. Once logged in, click on the View More link above)