Child Abuse Professional Responsibilities Professional Ethics Presenter: Cynthia Powell, M.S., LPC
Child Abuse is defined as: “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (1988)
What is the law in Texas? • Texas family code, section 261.101 mandates that any person who has reason to believe that child abuse is occurring must report the abuse. • The requirement to report under this section applies without exception to an individual whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including.......
Penalty for not reporting • Texas Family Code further states that a person who has cause to believe that child abuse or neglect is occurring and fails to report is subject to a class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000 or confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days or both. (O’Malley, 2002)
Indicators of Abuse • Bruises, lumps welts, repeated broken bones, burns • Wariness around adults, frequent school absences • Proneness to accidents • Poor concentration, academic failures • Increased aggression • Hanging around school before and after classes • Poor peer relationships
Reporting Child Abuse • Based on reasonable suspicions • Must be made in a timely manner • Should include the following information • Name and address of the child • Nature of the suspected abuse or injury • Reporter’s name and address • Specifics of the incident that led to the report
Mental Health Professionals (MHPs) and reporting • If confidentiality is as essential to successful treatment as therapists have claimed, then the child abuse reporting laws are likely to interfere significantly with the voluntary treatment of child abusers and with others incorrectly suspected of abuse or neglect. Kalichman and Craig’s study (as cited in Crenshaw, Bartell, and LIchtenburg, 1994)
Major considerations in reporting • Protecting the child • Upholding the law • Safeguarding the therapeutic relationship Study done by Kalichman and Craig as cited in Crenshaw, Bartell, and Lichtenberg (1994)
Personal regard for the law • Belief that social and legal officials could provide a more effective intervention • Hope that legal pressure could help to ensure cessations of abuse • Belief that therapists must cover themselves legally Study done by Crenshaw and Lichtenberg (1993)
Decision making in reporting • Identify the type of ethical problem • Determine the approach • Explore the practical alternative • Complete the action • Evaluate for future reference Did it work? What were the outcomes? Could I have acted in a more appropriate manner?
References Crenshaw, W., Bartell, P., Lichtenberg, J.W.(1994). Proposed revisions to mandatory reporting laws: An exploratory survey of child protective service agencies. Child Welfare,73(1), 15-29. Dowd, S.B., Davidhizar, R.E., (1996). The obligation of health professionals and supervisors to report child sexual abuse. The Health Care Supervisor, 15(1), 61-68. Gullatt, E.D., Stockton, C.E., (2000), Involving educators in the identification and reporting of suspected child agbuse. NASSP Bulletin, 84(619), 79-89.
http://www.smith-lawfirm.com/mandatory_reporting .htm Office of the Attorney General (Producer). (1996) Child Abuse – What Can We Do? [video]. Available from the Office of the Attorney General Crime Victim’s compensation.