The Case Of Child Abuse Essay

1170 Words Oct 8th, 2014 5 Pages
The Facts Beth, a fifteen-year-old girl, became pregnant after having sex with her brother, who is eighteen. She submitted to his advances after he threatened to reveal a secret. He claimed that the intercourse was consensual. Beth and her mother agreed to have an abortion performed. Afterwards, the doctor categorized the case as child abuse, which must be reported to the state government. Beth’s mother protested, citing a high likelihood of the story spreading through their small town at a detriment to Beth and her family. Beth’s mother called the incident a case of incest, which the hospital has failed to report in the past.
Defining the Problem This case presents two ethical dilemmas. First, respecting human agency in participating in nonviolent intercourse versus prosecuting individuals who use their power to coerce others. If Beth willingly had intercourse with her brother, it would be called incest. But he is an adult and she is technically a child, below the age of consent. Since he held a secret over her, the act can also be categorized as child abuse. Second, following the law versus protecting victims from further pain. If the incident is child abuse, the hospital is required by law to report it in order to protect Beth’s safety. However, doing so would likely cause Beth and her family further pain.
Evaluating Alternatives There are three clear alternatives in this case: no report for incest, no report for child abuse, and report for child abuse. First, the…

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