Court/legal news roundup: Therapy dogs; mandatory reporting in Texas; child abuse reporting is hard

Therapy dog program helps prosecutors in court — This nice overview that Jeremy Bordon did for the Washington Post last month is seeing wide distribution. It focuses on how dogs are being used to help young victims in Prince William County, VA, feel comfortable about relating the details of their trauma.

“Using service or therapy dogs to assist victims dates to a district attorney’s office in Queens in the 1980s and a Mississippi courthouse in the 1990s. It has expanded nationwide, and in November the National District Attorneys Association’s board of directors passed a resolution supporting the use of courthouse dogs.”

Psychologists question mandatory reporter law – Andrea Ball of the Austin-American (TX) Statesman reports that the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists wants the attorney general’s office to look into state law that requires psychologists and other professionals to report child abuse or neglect within 48 hours of a disclosure, even if the person disclosing the information to the psychologist is an adult.

But the law continues to generate confusion and concerns for mental health providers who struggle with the idea of reporting personal information about adult patients, especially when those patients object to the disclosure.

Reporting child abuse can be complicated – Dr. Deana Khoshaba at Advocate Lutheran General Children’s Hospital posts this interesting commentary in about why hundreds of thousands of occurrences of child abuse go unreported. Most of the post addresses individual reluctance, but there’s some attention to systemic problems.

On a personal note: As I learn more about our collective efforts to reduce child trauma, I think reluctance to report is understandable. We don’t have a culture that is comfortable about talking about child trauma; we hardly have language to talk about it; almost any action ends up the purview of cops and courts; and the system to deal with child trauma further traumatizes everyone involved.

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