Case Vignette -- Mandated Child Abuse Reporting
Newberger, Eli H.
White, C. Sue
Ethics and Behavior. 1991; 1(2): 145-153.
Case Vignette: Martha Harris has been a licensed mental health professional for nearly a decade. As she arrived at her office early this morning, the phone was ringing. Speaking in a tremulous voice, the caller stated, "I was given your name by my internist, Dr. Williams. I think my husband may be abusing our 5-year-old sexually. Can you help?" After a few minutes of conversation, Martha offers to schedule a prompt appointment. The caller interrupts and asks, "You won't have to report this will you?" As a mandated reporter under the state's child protection statute, Martha has no choice but to inform the authorities; she tells the caller, who immediately hangs up. Suddenly, Martha realizes that she does not have the name or any other identifying information about the caller. A call to Dr. Williams results in a response that the internist does not want to "get involved." Commentators on this case are Richard Bourne, JD, PhD, one of whose special areas of expertise is child protection and related professional obligations; Eli H. Newberger, MD, a pediatrician with a special interest in child maltreatment; and C. Sue White, PhD, one of whose primary interests is how clinicians may inappropriately use techniques to interview children suspected of child sexual abuse, causing contaminating influences to interfere with children's memories for their own experiences.
Case Studies; Child Abuse; Children; Confidentiality; Consultation; Duty to Warn; Fathers; Government; Government Regulation; Health; Health Personnel; Interprofessional Relations; Legal Aspects; Mandatory Reporting; Mental Health; Moral Obligations; Mothers; Physicians; Referral and Consultation; Regulation; Risks and Benefits; Reporting; Sex Offenses;