I’m in favor of mandatory reporting laws if/when they’re limited to situations where abuse is on-going or a risk-assessment determines that the chances of CSA perpetration is inexorably high, if not imminent. Past admissions of abuse can and do count towards a risk assessment.
I’m against mandatory reporting in situations that would risk escalation in matters or situations where it is not warranted, as this would waste resources and place an unnecessary amount of risk on what’s intended to be about prevention, rather than punishment.
However, I do not believe that holding clinical practitioners criminally liable for the failure to report it is the best way to go about it. Such a heavy-handed approach will undoubtedly have a negative impact on a clinician’s ability to safely and confidently evaluate risk and administer treatment, while also making the job prospect too much of a liability, both for clinicians and potentially at-risk patients looking for treatment.
A layperson or policymaker would argue that such an approach would be necessary to ensure that the well-being of children is in the same ground as the clinician, but this is one of those things that sounds good only “in theory” to a layperson with no real background or qualifications.
Clinical practitioners who specialize in diagnosing and treating symptoms related to paraphilias and paraphilic disorders need to be educated, trained, and well-researched, as well as ethically minded. They’re not going into this specific line of work just for the money, they’re doing it to help. The same can be said about those who help children and victims of abuse. If job security is really what motivates a clinician to act, rather than their commitment to prevention of abuse, then it almost certainly will not succeed.
I believe civil accountability is enough to promote appropriate consideration and urgency, while still leaving enough room for proper assessment and practice, which is the whole point of maintaining patient-privacy.
If, by chance, a miscalculated risk assessment is given and abuse does transpire, and the specialist question was aware of this, then I do, in fact, believe they should be vulnerable to a lawsuit by the victims or their families. This is the standard for all medical practices.
Of course, this is much easier said than done, as there exists disagreement among clinicians on how to objectively evaluate or assess risk, in addition to quantifying a standard of acceptability, or if any is tolerable.
Many (clinicians included) would argue that any non-zero risk of CSA perpetration is grounds for reporting, even in cases where the patient had done nothing wrong, is grounds for a report to authorities, while others, especially clinicians, would argue a position similar to mine.
I maintain the position that those who present a real and present threat to the safety and well-being of minors should be identified and isolated as a means to prevent abuse.
But identifying exactly what that means needs to be done properly, not with a heavy-handed “condemn now, ask questions later” approach that so many alarmists promote, a point furthered by the effect that it has on sexual offending.