In the Child’s Best Interest: The Contribution of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Víitor Ferreira Leite, Carla Araújo, Teresa Cartaxo, Luísa Veiga, Mário Jorge Loureiro

Abstract


Introduction: Child and Adolescent Forensic Psychiatry involves a multidisciplinary assessment at the courts’ requested to assist them in the process of justice delivery.
Material and Methods: Retrospective study which included 233 forensic requests to two child and adolescent psychiatrists from Coimbra’s HP-CHUC Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department between 1998 and 2012.
Results: Biographic, psychopathology, social and family aspects were analyzed. The response time throughout the process, the origin and nature of the request’s and the type of process which originated the request were also assessed. The authors identified the involved professionals and whether they needed to go to court. When there were questions, they evaluated the capacity to answer them, the forensic difficulties and solutions found, and the presence of recommendations.
Discussion: The obtained results met the clinical experience and literature regarding demography and psychopathology. As for the difficulties, there were a number of aspects which could be improved by both parts, aiming to ameliorate the articulation between Health and Justice.
Conclusion: With this study it was possible to reflect on the authors forensic practice, in order to develop a closer partnership with the courts to promote the real ‘best interests’ of children/adolescents and their families.


Keywords


Child Advocacy; Child Psychiatry; Expert Testimony; Forensic Psychiatry; Portugal

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