Free Practice Question: Child Abuse and Neglect

By Robin Gluck on August 13, 2018

This week, our FREE Law and Ethics practice question touches on the subject of reporting child abuse and neglect. This is an important topic that will very likely appear on your social work or MFT Law and Ethics exam. Since it could be tested in a variety of ways, you can never have too many practice opportunities (this is not our first practice question blog on this subject). Navigating the legal and ethical issues that arise with minors can be tricky; but rest assured, our exam prep programs fully prepare you to tackle any questions on this subject that you may encounter.

One difficult category that falls under the umbrella of child abuse is sex with minors. It can be challenging to know when to report, when to maintain confidentiality, when to involve parents, or when to honor a minor client’s self-determination.

What do you need to know about sex between minors?

  • Nonconsensual sex with a minor is always reported. Forget the ages; they are irrelevant in this case.
  • Consensual sex is not considered a mandated report if:
    • Both minors are under the age of 14 and of similar ages and developmental levels (and actually capable of consenting)
    • Both partners are between the ages of 14 and 20 years
    • One partner is 21 or older and the other is at least 16 years of age.
  • Therapists must assess if they have reason to believe a minor is at risk of child abuse.

Are you prepared to tackle legal or ethical questions regarding sex between minors? Let’s take a look at this week’s practice question to find out!

Child Abuse and Neglect Practice Question:

Charlotte, a 13-year-old girl, initiates therapy at a community mental health agency. The girl informs the therapist that her parents are unaware she is seeking therapy and would not approve if they knew. She also tells the therapist that she is pregnant, but hasn’t told the father yet and is not sure if she should. When asked by the therapist about the father, the client appears nervous and begins to cry. Which actions should the therapist take to manage the legal and ethical issues presented in this case?

A. Inform Charlotte that her parents must be informed and file a child abuse report due to reasonable suspicion of sexual abuse.

B. Discuss the pros and cons of Charlotte’s parents being involved in treatment and file a child abuse report due to reasonable suspicion of sexual abuse.

C. Provide Charlotte with a medical referral and assess for potential sexual abuse.

D. Identify support systems available to Charlotte and assess for potential sexual abuse.

Share your answer and rationale in the comments section below and check back tomorrow for a discussion of the answer and rationale for this week’s Law and Ethics practice test question.

To learn more about child abuse and neglect (as well as all of the other topics you need to know for your MFT Law and Ethics exam or LCSW Law and Ethics exam), sign up for one of TDC’s exam prep program to help you prepare for your exams today! Amanda Rowan has helped thousands of therapists and social workers pass their licensing exams. Are you our next success story?


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