Example Of Case Study On Child Abuse And Neglect
The cases of child abuse can often be very controversial and not easy to solve, as many definitions are not clearly defined and, thus, can be very ambiguous. Such definitions include physical child abuse and child neglect. It is often very hard for the professionals to draw a line between child abuse and simple disciplining as a part of child-rearing practices, and between child neglect and poor parenting (Wallace & Robertson, 2014, p. 43, p. 100). For this reason, each possible child abuse or child neglect case should be thoroughly and separately examined by the professionals, both medical and legal, in order to determine the necessity of intervention.
If I were a police officer, who arrived to the scene of a possible crime, I would not only listen to the explanations of a step-father and Jerri, but also to the testimonies of Jerri’s mother and siblings. There is a very thin line between simply slapping a child as a discipline measure and battery, especially given that Jimmie claims that the inflicted injury was accidental and not willful. He can use this argument as a part of his defense, and the charges of battery may be dismissed on this ground. At the same time, I would take into account the history of the family relationships, as well as the history of Jerri’s misbehavior and the means of discipline that Jimmie and Jean used to control the girl. If the examination of the girl’s body, as well as testimonies of the professionals, including school teachers prove that there were no signs of child abuse in the past, this argument may also be used as a part of Jimmie’s defense. Nonetheless, given the definition of Battery in the State of Confusion, I would charge Jimmie with simple battery, as his slap was willful and definitely caused pain to Jerri, despite the fact the Jerri’s behavior provoked anger and aggression. The fact that the injury was accidental and not intended does not diminish the pain, and the charges may serve as an intervention in a possibly dangerous situation. My initial charges made at the scene, however, can be disputed later in court, after the professionals examine the girl’s health and state of relationships and make their conclusion about the possible child abuse.
Given the evidence of Jerri’s previous escapes from home late at night and her breaking the rules in only a week after the end of the last detention, it is clear that the girl’s behavior is currently out of control of her caretakers and is incorrigible, which may cause her harm from her own actions outside from home. Moreover, it is clear that the girl feels frustration and aggression toward her stepfather Jimmie according to her claim that she will get him and her refusal to accept him as an authoritative parent figure. This means that their relationship is currently dysfunctional. However, it is always better to try other means including counseling and help from the social service workers. Before summoning Jerri to Family Court, I would evaluate the danger for the girl to stay with her parents and a possibility for her to get treatment and other services that might change her behavior, as, according to Wallace and Robertson (2014), it may often be very detrimental, especially emotionally, for both parents and children to be separated (p. 180). Jerri’s behavior seems incorrigible, and she threatened her parents to run away from home, so may become a person in need of supervision. Nonetheless, if the legal instruments allow for a probation adjustment, this possibility should be used before proceeding with the hearings in court. Such probation adjustments may involve at least one session with a juvenile (Jerri) and a petitioner (Jimmie) and agreed upon with the probation officer (“Persons in need of supervision”, n.d.). This should be done in order to give Jerri and Jimmie a chance to improve their relationship and, thus, improve Jerri’s behavior. Moreover, before summoning Jerri to Family Court in a PINS proceeding, the experts, including psychologists, medical staff, social and educational professionals, need to make sure that Jerri’s behavior is not caused by child abuse or child neglect, including the examination of her psychological state in order to exclude emotional abuse or neglect by her parents or siblings, which, if present, might be the cause for her uncontrollable behavior. In any case, taking Jerri to court in a PINS proceeding should be the last resort measure taken in the lack of evidence that she suffered from child abuse of neglect.
As a professional psychologist, I would evaluate the state of Jerri’s psychological health, as well as examined the health of other family members in order to evaluate if Jerri is in imminent danger. Taken into account that Jerri has broken rules and threatened the parents to run away from home, she can be supervised by Juvenile Probation, especially when there is a possibility that the girl will run away from home. However, in some cases, there is no clear evidence of the child abuse, especially the emotional one, and the victims of abuse do not admit of the abuse or neglect until they are placed outside of environment, where the abuser is present (Wallace & Robertson, 2014, p. 43, p. 179). For this reason, in order to understand whether Jerri should be removed from home or should be supervised by Juvenile probation, as a psychologist, I should conduct an interview with all family members. If I can testify that Jerri is in danger because of any kind of abuse or neglect, I would recommend the court to remove Jerri from home. In case I have doubts about the possible abuse, I would recommend the court to remove the girl temporarily from home to see if her well-being and psychological health improves and whether she will remember other instances of abuse. On the other hand, if there is no clear proof that the girl is abused or neglected, I would recommend the court to supervise the girl by Juvenile Probation in order to try and improve the girl’s behavior and relationships with parents and with stepfather, in particular.
According to Wallace and Robertson (2014), the validity of recovered memories is currently disputed, as there is no clear tool to distinguish repressed memories from the false memories, and for this reason, it is hard to estimate whether Jerri’s memories about her being abused by her older brother before the age of 5 are true or false (p. 170). In order to give credence to these memories, I would interview other members of the family to understand whether the sibling abuse really took place. It is a common presumption, especially by the adults, that siblings often fights and it is simply a part of their growing up. Nonetheless, if the members of the family do remember that cases of any form of physical, mental, or sexual abuse inflicted on Jerri by her older brother, these memories are more likely to be real. I will also evaluate the amount of details Jerri can recall because it is estimated that children in general can recall much less details than adults, and given that the events happened before Jerri was 5, there is little possibility that she could have remembered the details (Wallace & Robertson, 2014, p. 162). At the same time, Jerri has previously lied to her parents about staying at home at night, so there is high possibility that she reached the age, when she would lie for any reasons, including revenge. In order to make sure that she is not lying, I would conduct an interview with open-ended questions. Moreover, I would interview Jerri’s older brother and compare their answers. If there is a hint that sibling abuse did take place, I will give Jerri’s words credence. If there is no evidence that the girl was ever abused by her brother, other than her own words, I will doubt the credence of her words. I would also use specific techniques, including anatomic dolls, to try and find out more about this possible incident, instead of simply asking about it directly.
Jerri’s testimony about the sibling abuse by her brother is hearsay, if I provide it to court. According to Wallace and Robertson (2014), statements by victims of abuse can be an exception from the hearsay rule, if the judges consider “the totality of the circumstances surrounding the making of the statement to determine whether it was reliable and therefore admissible under this type of exception” (p. 168). Thus, in order for this statement to be admissible in court, I should clearly and fully record the circumstances, in which the statement was made, as such detailed recording will give the judges the possibility to evaluate the admissibility of the statement. Given the competency of Jerri, and if I present the detailed recording of the circumstances that surrounded the statement (which might involve video-taping of the interview), I think that the statement should be admissible in court for further evaluation by the judges and the jury.
Jerri’s case on this stage of investigation lacks details and more information, and further actions taking in regards to her family members should be based on thorough investigation and examination of evidences and testimony by different experts. Based on the overall evaluation of their home relationships and behavior of different family members, Jerri’s and her family member’s lives might be greatly affected in different ways, whether Jerri will be supervised by Juvenile Probation, obtain a PINS status or removed from her family, and her parents and brother might or might not be charged with child abuse.
Persons in need of supervision. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2015, from http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/7jd/courts/family/case_types/persons_in_need_of_supervision.shtml
Wallace, H., & Roberson, C. (2014). Family violence: Legal, medical, and social perspectives (Seventh ed.). Pearson.