Reporting Abuse

Certain people are legally required to report suspected cases of abuse; typically, a report must be made when the reporter suspects or has reasons to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected. Mandated reporters include health-care workers, school personnel, child-care providers, social workers, law enforcement officers, and mental-health professionals.

Some states also require others to report suspected abuse or neglect, including animal control officers, veterinarians, commercial film or photograph processors, substance abuse counselors, and firefighters. Four states—Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, and South Dakota—include domestic violence workers on the list of mandated reporters. About 18 states require all citizens to report suspected abuse or neglect, regardless of profession.

Privileged communications About 34 states and territories specify in their reporting laws when a "communication" is privileged and therefore exempt from mandated reporting. Privileged communications, those a state recognizes as falling under the right to maintain the confidentiality of communications between professionals and their clients or patients, are exempt from mandatory reporting laws.

The privilege most widely recognized by the states is that of attorney-client. The privilege pertaining to clergy-penitent also is frequently recognized, but it is limited to situations in which a member of the clergy becomes aware of child abuse through a confession or in the capacity of spiritual adviser. However, five states—New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia—deny the clergy-penitent privilege. Very few states recognize physician-patient and mental-health professional-patient privileges as exempt from mandatory reporting laws.

child and adolescent psychiatrist A physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of thinking, feeling, and behaving affecting children and adolescents. unlike psychologists, psychiatrists can prescribe medication.

The child and adolescent psychiatrist uses knowledge of biological, psychological, and social factors in working with patients. After a compre hensive examination, the child and adolescent psychiatrist arrives at a diagnosis and designs a treatment plan. An integrated approach may involve individual, group, or family psychotherapy; medication or consultation with other physicians or professionals from schools, juvenile courts, social agencies, or other community organizations. The child psychiatrist is prepared and expected to act as an advocate for the best interests of children and adolescents.

Child and adolescent psychiatric training requires four years of medical school, at least three years of approved residency training in medicine, neurology, and general psychiatry with adults, and two years of training in psychiatric work with children, adolescents, and their families in an accredited residency in child and adolescent psychiatry. The trainee acquires a thorough knowledge of normal child and family development, psychopathol-ogy, and treatment. Special importance is given to disorders that appear in childhood, such as pervasive developmental disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd), learning disability, mental retardation, mood disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, drug dependency, and conduct disorder. After completing residency and successfully passing a certification exam in general psychiatry given by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), the child and adolescent psychiatrist is eligible to take the certification exam in the subspecialty of child and adolescent psychiatry. Although the ABPN examinations are not required for practice, they are a further assurance that the child and adolescent psychiatrist can diagnose and treat all psychiatric conditions in patients of any age and contribute in many ways to serve the welfare and interests of children and their families.

Child and adolescent psychiatrists can be found through local medical and psychiatric societies, local mental health associations, local hospitals or medical centers, departments of psychiatry in medical schools, and national organizations like the american academy of child and adolescent psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association. In addition, pediatricians, family physicians, school counselors, and employee assistance programs can help identify child and adolescent psychiatrists.

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