Avoiding Liability Bulletin – May 2005 

… A man punches a pregnant woman in the stomach. If the therapist finds out about this in the course of therapy, does this constitute reportable child abuse? Depending upon the interpretation of state laws, the answer may vary. In some states, for example, a fetus is not considered to be a “child” for purposes of the child abuse reporting law, which may define “child” as a “person” under the age of eighteen. Check it out! What is the law in your state?

… How old must a child be before he or she can become an emancipated minor under the applicable law in the state where you practice? More importantly, if you are treating an emancipated minor who is sixteen years of age and she tells you that she was forcibly raped (after emancipation), does this necessitate a mandatory report of child abuse? The answer to the question can possibly be found in the emancipation statutes, which may specify the legal effects of emancipation, or perhaps in the child abuse reporting law itself. Is the emancipated minor a “child” for purposes of the child abuse reporting law? Check it out – be prepared.

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Richard Leslie

Richard S. Leslie is an attorney and acknowledged expert on the interrelationship between law and the practice of marriage and family therapy and psychotherapy. Most recently, he was a consultant to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and has written articles regarding legal and ethical issues for their Family Therapy Magazine. Prior to his work with AAMFT, Richard was Legal Counsel to the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) for approximately twenty-two years. While there, he also served as their director of Government Relations and tirelessly advocated for due process and fairness for licensees and applicants.

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