PSY 622 7-1 Discussion: Child Abuse Law, Trauma, and Custody Assessments

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Discuss the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) with your classmates. Using the appropriate terminology, examine the background, participants, and historical significance of this law in relation to the child abuse risk assessments used by today’s child advocacy providers. In your discussion, provide the psychometrics of two child abuse risk assessments that are preferred in your forensic family psychotherapy practice.

In response to your peers, comment on the strengths of the psychometrics discussed and make suggestions for potential alternatives.

To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric d

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is a U.S. federal law that provides the framework for each U.S. state to jurisdictionally define child abuse and neglect (Chandler, 2014). CAPTA indicates that an act or failure to act on the part of a parent or a caretaker resulting in a child’s death, serious physical harm, emotional harm, or sexual abuse is legally child abuse. CAPTA also defines child neglect in special cases as the withholding or failure to provide medically indicated treatment for children. This may include the failure to provide adequate psychological, psychiatric, or mental health services (Chandler, 2014).

It is essential in this module for students to understand the relativeness of legal definitions as they explore child abuse risk assessments and other related forensic measures of trauma, custody, and forensic pediatric development. For example, in large geographic regions, such as Texas, child abuse includes physical injury, emotional injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, physical neglect, medical neglect, or inadequate supervision (Chandler, 2014). However, this legal definition excludes reasonable discipline by the child’s parent, guardian, or conservator. In other words, corporal or physical punishment or spanking is not in itself abusive under this jurisdictional law. Yet, an act or an omission of an act, by a parent or adult can be determined abusive if observable and material impairment occurs (e.g., bruises or scars on a child due to a spanking).

In recent U.S. governmental statistics, child abuse has occurred as much as every 10 seconds in the United States (Chandler, 2014). More than five U.S. children will die each day as a result of child abuse. Overall, the consensus of researchers has indicated that child abuse occurs among all U.S. ethnicities, cultures, and socioeconomic classes. Moreover, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has found that nearly 30% of identified child abusers reported childhood experiences of abuse and neglect. These traumatic childhood experiences were associated with the diagnosis of conduct disorder and antisocial personality disorder. For example, child abuse histories occur among 59% of the juvenile cases, 28% of the adult arrests, and 30% of the violent offenses in United States (Chandler, 2014). In the field of victimology, students will find a variety of psychological tests and screens for child abuse risk potential. For example, the Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAPI), which contains validity and consistency scales, is a good measure with the Symptom Assessment- 45 (SA-45) to determine the risk of physical child abuse, hostility, and psychiatric difficulties in combination (Chandler, 2014). (See Table 7.1.) As students continue to Module Eight, they will examine the component of violence in relation to family and domestic abuse and violence.

Table 7.1: Sample Child Abuse Potential Assessment: The CAPI
Subscale Descriptions
Lie (L) Measures false response patterns
Random Response (RR) Assesses random patterns during the assessment
Inconsistency (IC) Indicates inconsistencies during the assessment
Distress Measures emotional distress relative to parenting
Rigidity Assesses inflexible parental tendencies
Unhappiness Indicates feelings of depression as a parent
Problems with Children and Self Measures difficulties in parent-child interactions
Problems With Family Assesses problems with parent and family members
Problems With Others Indicates parental difficulties with other people
Abuse Measures physical abusive patterns

The table above is based on the CAPI Manual. CAPI scores are interpreted in T scores and percentile (%). The higher the T score or %, the higher degree of symptoms. Caution is noted to ethnic minority populations.


CAP Manual. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Chandler, D. (2014). The essentials of forensic family psychotherapy: a brief guide to investigative narrative analysis. Retrieved from…


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