U.Va. Tip Sheet: Law and Medical Education Professor Can Discuss Child Abuse Reporting Laws

November 10, 2011

November 10, 2011 — Two University of Virginia law professors are available to comment on the legal issues surrounding the Penn State child abuse scandal.

Professor Thomas Hafemeister is available to comment on laws regarding child abuse, including states' requirements in reporting abuse and government support structures designed to help detect and respond to abuse. Hafemeister also is an expert on the history of how child abuse has been viewed and handled in the United States from the 19th century to today.

Hafemeister recently wrote about society's "inadequate response" to child abuse in an article published in the Ohio Northern University Law Review. "The consensus is that society is still not adequately preventing or identifying child abuse or appropriately responding to the needs of abused children," Hafemeister wrote.

In his article, he discussed how even professionals targeted by mandatory reporting laws, such as health care or mental health professionals, may not be reporting all cases of abuse they encounter.

"Even with relatively comprehensive guarantees of immunity in place, many professionals are apparently unwilling to submit" reports on suspicions of child abuse, he said.

Hafemeister is an associate professor in the U.Va. School of Law and an associate professor of medical education in the School of Medicine. He teaches courses in psychiatry and criminal law, mental health law, medical malpractice and health care quality, and bioethics and the law. He has published articles on health, public health and mental health care policy, as well as range of related issues, including child abuse, elder abuse, domestic violence, underage drinking, the psychology of jury selection and juror stress, and the criminal justice system.

Thomas Hafemeister can be reached at 434-924-3187 and th4n@virginia.edu.
In the media:

*    "Loughner Likely to Stand Trial"  (USA Today, 6/14/2011)

*     "Stealing from Grandma and Grandpa" (FoxBusiness.com , 6/13/2011)

*     "Deal Would Raise Cap on Malpractice Suits in Va." (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 1/11/2011)

*     "Amid Financial Abuse, a Blind Spot for Family" (New York Times, 5/19/2009)

Professor Anne Coughlin is a criminal law and procedure expert who can discuss criminal liability for failing to report a crime, child abuse and the treatment of victims. She frequently speaks with the media on a range of criminal law matters.

Coughlin is co-author of a casebook on criminal law, and has written a number of articles exploring the intersections among criminal law, criminal procedure and feminist theory, as well as essays concerning the connections between law and literature. She also clerked for Judge Jon O. Newman of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr.
Coughlin can be reached at 434-924-3520 or amc6z@virginia.edu.

In the media:

•    "As Federal Crime List Grows, Threshold of Guilt Declines" (The Wall Street Journal, 09/27/2011)

•     "Anthony Weiner: Morally Repugnant, But No Criminal" (New Republic, 06/11/2011)

•     "On Women's Rights: Gadhafi and U.S. Military Have More in Common"  (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 04/09/2011)

Media Contact

Mary Wood

Chief Communications Officer University of Virginia School of Law