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The Ethics of Assembly Bill No. 1775, Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act
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The Ethics of Assembly Bill No. 1775, Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act

Alfredo Crespo, Ph.D.

LACPA Ethics Committee

 

The Ethics of Assembly Bill No. 1775, Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act

 

Assembly Bill No. 1775 has been in effect since January 1, 2015. The bill constitutes a change to legally mandated child abuse or neglect reports due to advances in technology. While language in the prior child abuse/neglect reporting laws included “sexual exploitation” (i.e., any form of child pornography), the law did not address electronic and online descriptions of child pornography. The amended subsection includes under the definition of sexual exploitation “[a] person who depicts a child in, or who knowingly develops, duplicates, prints, downloads, streams, accesses through any electronic or digital media, or exchanges, a film, photograph, videotape, video recording, negative, or slide in which a child is engaged in an act of obscene sexual conduct.”  What does this mean for psychologists? The Board of Psychology states, “Psychologists are obliged to report instances where a patient states that he or she has downloaded, streamed, or accessed through any electronic or digital media depictions in which a child is engaged in an act of obscene sexual conduct.” (BOP, 2015)

 

Some psychologists have been concerned that “sexting” or an adolescent taking and texting a picture of him or herself could be considered “obscene sexual conduct” that may be reportable if it meets criteria of the law. However, the definition of “act of obscene sexual conduct” is not clarified.   

 

The issues inherent in AB 1775 are of particular concern as the APA Ethical Guideline notes confidentiality may be broken “as mandated by law… [to] protect the client/patient, psychologist of others from harm” (4.05, b, 3). This bill adds another exception to confidentiality. Thus, informed consent (3.10) needs to be updated to notify clients of this new limit to confidentiality.   

 

 

References are available on the request from the LACPA office, lacpa1@gmail.com.

 

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