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child protective services Child Protective Services For 30 years advocates program administrators and politicians have joined to encourage even more reports of suspected child abuse and neglect Their efforts have been successful with about three million cases of suspected child abuse having been reported in 1993 Large numbers of endangered children still go unreported but a serious problem had developed Upon investigation as many as 65 percent or the reports now being made are determined to be unsubstantiated raising serious civil liberties concerns and placing a huge burden on investigative staffs Unreported Cases Most experts agree that reports have increased over the past 30 years because professional have become more likely to report apparently abusive and neglectful situations But the question remains How many more cases still go unreported Two studies performed for the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect by Westat Inc provide an answer In 1980 and then again in 1986 Westat conducted national studies of the incidence of child abuse and neglect Each study used the same method In a sample of counties a sample of professionals who serve children was asked whether during the study period the children they ha seen in their offices appeared to have been abused or neglected Because the information these selected professionals provided could be matched against pending cases in the local child protective agency Westat was able to estimate rates of nonreporting among the surveyed professionals It could not of course estimate the level of unintentional nonreporting since there is no way to know of the situations in which professionals did not recognize signs of possible mistreatment There is also no way to know how many children the professionals recognized as being mistreated but chose not to report to the study Obviously since the study method involved asking professionals about children they had seen in their offices it also did not allow Westat to estimate the number of children seen by
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