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Legal System and Child Protection (From The APSAC [American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children] Handbook on Child Maltreatment, Second Edition, P 305-327, 2002, John E.B. Myers, Lucy Berliner, et al., eds. -- NCJ-198699)

NCJ Number
John E. B. Myers
Date Published
23 pages
This chapter discusses the legal system's involvement in child protection, with attention to confidentiality and privilege, subpoenas, and hearsay.
The first section of the chapter presents an overview of the American legal system as it pertains to child maltreatment. Topics discussed in this section are the Federal, State, and local governments' roles in child protection. A description of litigation in American courts addresses criminal and civil litigation, standards of proof, burden of proof, evidence, the adversarial nature of litigation, the juvenile court, family court, and criminal prosecution. A section on confidentiality and privilege considers the ethical duty to protect confidential client information, laws that make clients' records confidential, privileges in legal proceedings, liability for unauthorized release of confidential client information, confidentiality when the client is a child, confidentiality in group therapy, reviewing client records before testifying, the confidentiality of progress reports on children in court-ordered treatment, and the disclosure of confidential and privileged client information. Other sections of the chapter discuss the response to subpoenas and exceptions to the hearsay rule regarding verbal evidence of child abuse. Four exceptions to the hearsay rule are typically applicable in child abuse cases: the excited utterance exception, the medical diagnosis or treatment exception, the exception for prior consistent statements, and the child hearsay exception. A verbal evidence checklist and 51 references