Professors Can Discuss Child Abuse Reporting Laws

November 15, 2011

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

Thomas Hafemeister
Thomas Hafemeister's recent scholarship has focused on health law, including elder abuse, child abuse and domestic violence.

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

In the media:


Professor Anne Coughlin is a criminal law and procedural expert who can speak on criminal liability for failing to report a crime, child abuse and the treatment of victims.


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

In the media:

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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