Child Abuse and the Legal System - Forensic Developmental Psychology: Unveiling Four Common Misconceptions.

Essay by DawnP86High School, 12th gradeC+, December 2005

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The ethics of social responsibility is discussed in reference to six case vignettes drawn from forensic psychology. In Forensic Developmental Psychology: Unveiling Four Common Misconceptions, Maggie Bruck and Stephen Ceci familiarize you with the definitional model of social responsibility, and two unequal components of the concept respect for the individual and concern for social welfare are identified. The sources of ethical conflict in regard to social responsibility are enumerated. Scholarly criticism of the value orientation of forensic psychology is reviewed, and forensic psychology is contrasted with social policy advocacy efforts made by organized psychology.

The social responsibility obligations of psychologists in the micro-ethical sphere, where their actions affect individuals, are differentiated from the obligations psychology has when operating in the macro-ethical sphere of social policy. The ethical problems inherent in policy advocacy brought about by individual psychologists working with individuals are underscored: the inevitable element of deception, the violation of role integrity, and the circumvention of social structures and institutions that safeguard the rights.

In the 1980s, there was an enormous change in society's sensitivity to and recognition of the problems of violence and abuse that were suffered by children. Spurred by an increased awareness of the pervasiveness of child sexual abuse, state after state revised its criminal procedures to enable prosecutors to deal more effectively with victims and defendants. This led to important changes in the legal system, to many countries in the western world. These changes included allowing children to provide uncorroborated testimony in cases concerning sexual abuse a crime that by its very nature often does not involve an eyewitness other than the perpetrator and the victim and the elimination of the competency requirement for child witnesses.

Domestic violence is a main problem and it affects every community across the United States. It crosses all races,