Effective child maltreatment investigation relies to a significant extent upon information supplied by anonymous reporters. Reliance on these reporters presents the child protection, law enforcement, and judicial systems with a challenge: giving proper weight to such reports while safeguarding everyone’s constitutional rights.
During FFY 2012, child protective services agencies received 3.4 million referrals involving approximately 6.3 million children. Among the 46 states that reported both screened-in and screened-out referrals, 62 percent of referrals were screened in and 38 percent were screened out. “For 2012, professionals made three-fifths (58.7%) of reports of alleged child abuse and neglect. The term professional means that the person had contact with the alleged child maltreatment victim as part of his or her job. This term includes teachers, police officers, lawyers, and social services staff. Nonprofessionals—including friends, neighbors, and relatives—submitted one-fifth of reports (18.0%). Unclassified sources submitted the remainder of reports (23.3%). Unclassified includes anonymous, “other,” and unknown report sources” [emphasis added].