Youth Services Law

Student or Employee: DOL’s Relaxed Standard for Internships

Interns and volunteers in program

Now that school has started, I’ve received more questions about training programs and unpaid internships. Most questions have come from employers, but some have come from private schools that would like to incorporate more career and technical training into their programs. The federal rules are more amenable to such programs than they have been in decades. Nevertheless, there are restrictions that we should in mind.

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Late Bloomers Do Fine

Group of teenagers at high school

It’s a strong stereotype that well-adjusted teenagers date and develop romantic relationships, and only socially maladjusted kids don’t do the same. A recent study of teenagers turns that stereotype on its head. It looked at the social development of young people who delayed dating until after high school. The researchers were surprised to discover that the teens were not maladjusted, but actually did better in some measures than their early-dating peers.

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Having a Treating Therapist Serve As a Forensic Witness Is Rarely a Good Idea

Posted In Expert Witness

Definition of Witness

I often find myself in a case opposing a party who has designated his or her or a child's treating therapist as an expert witness on various forensic issues. This arrangement is rarely, if ever, a good idea. I understand the temptation to save money by hiring one person instead of two. However, a treating therapist who tries to serve as an expert forensic witness faces an ethical conflict that can completely undercut both roles.

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Mandated Reporting Age of Consent

Group of young teenagers

An incident from Vermont illustrates a not-uncommon conundrum for mandated reporters, deciding when to report sexual activity by minors above the age of consent. The pastor of a church learned of consensual sexual activity between a minor in the church and the church’s youth pastor. Because the girl was 16 year old, the age of consent in Vermont, the pastor’s lawyer initially told him that he did not need to report it.

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Reading, Writing, and … Mindfulness?

Small girl meditating on grass

Two recently-published studies claim that mindfulness training can help children cope with stress in school. The first study was small, with only 99 middle-school children participating. Half of them received 8 weeks of mindfulness-based interventions, while the other half received active-control interventions.

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Mandated Reporter: Sexting Laws

Teenager sitting on bed texting

A recent court ruling continues the trend of insanity surrounding teenage sexting. A 16-year-old girl performed oral sex on a male friend, and one of them videoed it. The girl later sent the video to two friends by text message. When she later fell out with one of the friends, he showed the video to a school police officer. The prosecutor charged her with distributing child pornography, and Maryland’s highest appellate court recently affirmed the conviction.

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Questioning a Child: A Case Study

Upset child sitting on a couch in front of adult

A military court of appeals recently made headlines when it dismissed child abuse charges against a Marine colonel. The very thorough opinion provides a good case study in the difficulties of interviewing young children. In both my experience as a civil lawyer defending youth organizations and my past life as a criminal prosecutor, I have seen inadequate interviews so taint a child’s disclosure that it becomes impossible to know what actually happened.

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Resilience After Child Abuse

Mother and daughter hugging

One very important issue for youth-serving organizations is what factors help children recover from abuse or neglect. It is a complicated question, in part because children are at such varying developmental stages when they suffer maltreatment. A recent systematic review of several mental health studies offers possible factors that organizations can consider to help children overcome adverse experiences.

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Questioning Children: A New Study

A recent study adds more support to the evidence that asking children open-ended questions is the best way to obtain the information that they have. Researchers studied 83 children in Australia, from ages 7-12. They showed the children a short film, and then interviewed them twice, once by a person who asked only open questions and once by a person who asked only closed questions. A third interviewer then asked the children their thoughts about the interviews using a 10-point rating scale.

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Depositions of Children: How

Posted In Depositions

Small girl playing with toys

The next, and for many lawyers the most frightening, issue in deposing children is how to ask questions of children. Like many tasks, it is more frightening than difficult. Fortunately, many other people have faced this same problem, and many of them have written some very instructive manuals.

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