JUVENILE SEXUALIZED BEHAVIOR: Responding to Behaviors
Because children who perpetrate sexual acts on other children may also have been abused, they require a complete evaluation. This includes history, physical examination, and laboratory tests for sexually transmitted diseases, when appropriate. Referral to appropriate mental health services is also important.
If a child or adolescent discloses that he or she sexually abused another child or adolescent, the situation poses an ethical dilemma. If the child or adolescent victim is another child in the family, and if you feel that the parents are unwilling or unable to provide protection for that child, you have a duty as a mandated reporter to contact the State Central Register (1-800-635-1522).
If the victim is unknown to you, your professional responsibility is to provide information and referrals for your patient. Make a referral to a therapist or, if available, to a team of professionals who are experienced in the treatment of juvenile sexual offenders. Your local Probation Department may be able to assist you in locating appropriate services or may be able to provide further information regarding special programs in the patient’s county. For a list of Probation Departments, see www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/opca/ . Rape Crisis Center programs may also have helpful information to assist in referrals. For a list of New York Rape Crisis Centers, see http://nyscasa.org/ .
The most appropriate approach is to work toward getting your patient to allow you to discuss the situation with his or her parent. If the parent is not willing or able to prevent future victimization by the patient, it may be appropriate to contact the State Central Register. In some cases, law enforcement may need to be directly involved. Carefully consider each case regarding breaking patient confidentiality versus potentially putting another child at risk. Consult a local child abuse expert for assistance.