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Looking for US legal advice

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  • Looking for US legal advice

    Hi there, I am an admin on a mental health online community that is trying to find out some information on what rights a minor in the US has to be separated from an abusive guardian, who they can talk to for anonymous support, how they can speak to police and what rights/responsibilities the officers have, and any other advice I can give them to help them move forward safely.
    They have told me that their guardian has in the past tried to stab them and physically abuses them regularly. I am unaware of their actual age, but they are a minor.

  • #2
    Hello, fellow admin! Thanks for reaching out, and for the work that you're doing. We appreciate you!

    As far as rights go, that's going to be dependent on the state that the minor is living in and/or the state where the abuse happened in. While we can definitely try to find some of the laws in their state if they reached out directly, their best bet is to try and connect with an attorney for more in depth information on their rights. The same would apply for the rights/responsibilities that officers have.

    In terms of the abuse they're experiencing at home, we always encourage folks to reach out directly to the police if they're in imminent danger. Beyond that, they can also file an abuse report with Child Protective Services (CPS). With abuse occurring regularly, it's a good idea for them to file that report by phone, instead of through an online system (if there is one). Generally speaking, CPS agencies ask that abuse situations that could be classified as an emergency be filed by phone for a faster response. In considering filing a report, the minor should be prepared to answer a significant number of questions, including ones that might be a little uncomfortable. If they have any noticeable marks from the abuse, it's a good idea to document them by taking photos. CPS reports can be made anonymously, and if they'd prefer, they can also have a Mandated Reporter (teacher, social worker, school counselor, doctor, etc.) file the report with them, or on their behalf. In general, Mandated Reporters are also safe folks they can talk to for support as well. Therapists, social workers and counselors have an ethical obligation to maintain confidentiality, unless they know or suspect that the youth is at risk of being hurt or hurting someone else.

    Please feel free to pass along our contact information as well. All of our conversations with minors are confidential, they can remain anonymous if they desire, and we strive to offer support however it's needed most. They can reach out to us directly by calling 1-800-RUNAWAY or through our live chat at www.1800runaway.org. We're available 24/7, and are always happy to listen, and to help.

    Take care.

    NRS
    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)

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