Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)


The Right to Refuse Reporter Disclosure for Child Abuse and Neglect Reports

Publication Date



Health Sciences & Nursing, Gordon E. Inman College of


Social Work, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Jennifer Crowell

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


This paper discusses the Tennessee 112th General Assembly House Bill 0908, the issues it is trying to ameliorate, and the potential effects its passage could have on social work practice. House Bill 908 attempts to amend Title 37 of Tennessee Code Annotated, relative to reports of child abuse, neglect, or child sexual abuse. If passed, this bill would prevent the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) from investigating any reported cases of child abuse if the reporter refuses to leave their name and contact information. It would also allow the accused to petition the court to reveal the identity of the reporter if they believe the report was made with the intention to harass. The proponents of this bill often refer to trauma caused by false reports, which often involves an associated loss of the custody of their children to the state for a certain amount of time or the burden of costs affiliated with hiring an attorney during investigations. Those in opposition to this bill refer to the rarity of false reports, how anonymous reports are often made anonymously to protect the reporter’s safety, and how there are already measures in place under Tennessee state law to prevent false reports. Using a social work lens, research indicates that HB 908 may potentially cause more harm than good. However, the issue of false reporting addressed in this bill is still one of importance, that we believe can be addressed in other ways. This paper will offer an analysis of the legislation whilst exploring other approaches to this problem that do not involve removing the option of anonymous reporting.

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