Legal Issues in Child Abuse and Neglect

Sandra T. Azar, Nina Olsen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter discusses legal issues in child abuse and neglect by parents, focusing on new assessment role for health professionals. Psychologists have become involved most often around three legal decision points: reporting, risk assessment, and evaluation of parental fitness. Four types of maltreatment are typically recognized by the legal system: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional maltreatment. Physical abuse involves the use of aversive or inappropriate control strategies with a child. Definitions of sexual abuse typically focus on the element of sexual exploitation involving anal, oral, genital, or breast contact between a child and another person. Laws indicate who must report, to whom abuse must be reported, and the form and content of the report. The fact that parents seek treatment does not absolve the professional of the duty to report. Substance-abusing parents, psychiatrically ill parents, and mentally retarded parents are other groups commonly seen as placing children at risk for harm. One of the core questions in termination of parental rights (TPR) cases is the determination of whether the parents' capacity to rear their children has fallen so far below community standards that the child is at significant risk of harm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Forensic Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationResource for Mental Health and Legal Professionals
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780080495101
ISBN (Print)9780125241960
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Legal Issues in Child Abuse and Neglect'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this