Predictive Risk Modeling and Child Maltreatment: An Ethical Review.
University of Auckland.
i, 74 p.
Published: September 2013
In response to the Australian Vulnerable Children Report that includes a recommendation that a full ethical evaluation of predictive risk modeling (PRM) is needed before applying PRM to child maltreatment, this report describes an ethical framework to guide agencies in their responses to the use of automated child risk scores. The first section of the report provides technical arguments for the predictive power of the model and discusses the significance of implementation decisions, legal issues, and PRM and alternative approaches to child maltreatment. Ethical issues surrounding PRM are then considered and include concerns related to: universal vs targeted responses, over and under identification, stigmatization and the costs associated with identification as at-risk, mandatory vs voluntary engagement with services, general preconditions for ethical screening, resource allocation, privacy, the effect on social service professionals and other frontline staff, and children’s rights. The paper concludes the Vulnerable Children PRM is largely complaint with requirements for ethical screening programs, the Vulnerable Children PRM must not lead to the neglect of the needs of lower risk children or overwhelm social services to the overall detriment of vulnerable children, and the Vulnerable Children PRM poses some threat both to general moral rights to privacy and to legal and moral rights to confidentiality. Numerous references.
child abuse; ethics; screening; models; risk assessment; predictor variables; children at risk; confidentiality; identification; childrens rights; Australia