Legal and Ethical Considerations
In California, the legal definition of sexual abuse includes incest, molestation, and exploitation for pornography or prostitution. One task of the clinician is to find out what the likely outcome of the legal proceedings will be, and with that knowledge prepare the child to accept this outcome without additional feelings of guilt or blame. In places where court rules have been modified for the benefit of children, it may be a good idea to take the child to the courtroom for practice in sitting on the witness stand. Many jurisdictions have made extensive changes in court environments for the purpose of conducting preliminary hearings or trials in which a child is to be the key witness. The criminal process focuses on punishing the perpetrator for violating a law, but the civil process focuses on attempting to compensate a wrongfully injured victim.