Mandatory Education Laws


Child Abuse and Neglect. Only three states—California, Iowa, and New York—mandate education on child abuse for health professionals. The training requirements appear to be driven at least in part by mandatory reporting laws; in all three states, training must focus on child abuse identification and the local statutory reporting requirements. The amount of required training varies. New York requires a one-time, 2-hour training session. California has a one-time training requirement of 7 hours over the course of a professional’s career; Iowa goes further and requires at least 2 hours every 5 years.

Iowa requires physicians, dentists, mental health workers, nurses, and social workers to receive this form of education; New York does the same with the exception of social workers. California imposes this requirement only on its mental health professionals and social workers.

Intimate Partner Violence. Three states—Alaska, Florida, and Kentucky— mandate that health professionals receive education about intimate partner violence. The states require training on such topics as the nature and extent of such violence, safety planning, lethality and risk issues, and available community resources.

The amount of training required varies greatly: Florida mandates 1 hour every 2 years; Kentucky requires a one-time-only 3-hour training session; and Alaska does not specify. Florida and Kentucky require training for doctors, dentists, mental health workers, nurses, social workers, and allied health workers. Alaska does the same, except for allied health workers.

Elder Maltreatment. Iowa is the only state that requires its health professionals to receive training on elder maltreatment. Its law mandates education regarding identification and reporting dependent elder abuse, with a 2-hour initial session followed by two additional hours every 5 years. The education requirement applies to doctors, dentists, mental health professionals, nurses, social workers, and allied health workers.


The committee could find no formal evaluations of the impact of legally mandated family violence education. Studies demonstrate that health professionals who have obtained any continuing education (not necessarily mandated) about child maltreatment are no more likely—and in some samples are less likely—to report child abuse and neglect than are those who have not attended such workshops (Beck and Ogloff, 1995; Kalichman and Brosig, 1993; Reiniger et al., 1995). Accordingly, although one can hypothesize that such laws may have an array of positive as well as negative effects, until sound process and outcome

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