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Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.


I am 14 and need to go to a school social worker. My parents won't let me go talk to the social worker, but the social worker needs a parent's consent to talk to me. What do I do? I have tried talking to them, too. Is it a law for parent's consent or just a want. I live in IL if it makes any difference.


This question is a tricky one to answer for several reasons. Ordinarily a parent does have to consent for a minor to talk to a counselor or social worker. However, school social workers can talk to minors without consent sometimes, depending on what you need to discuss. For example, if you need to report to someone that you are being abused or neglected by your parents you can do that without consent. Most parents would not consent to their child telling the authorities that they have mistreated their child!

In case you need clarification about what is considered abuse it is generally defined like this:

Physical Abuse is when an adult hits a minor with a closed fist or object and leaves a mark on his or her body.

Sexual Abuse is when an adult touches a minor's private parts, threatens or coerces them to perform sexual acts or touch their or another person's private parts. Also, showing a minor pictures or videos of sex acts is considered abusive.

Physical Neglect is when an adult who is responsible for your care and well being does not provide you with the basic necessities such as food, appropriate clothing for the weather or shelter. This also includes getting you medical assistance when needed, whether that is for immunizations or seeing a doctor when you are really sick.

Educational Neglect is when an adult who is responsible for your well being does not send you to school to ensure that you get an education until the age it is legal to quit school in your state.

In the event that you are being abused or neglected in any way, do not wait to report this. Most cities and towns have a child abuse hot line number in the yellow pages or business pages of the phone book. Abuse needs to be reported immediately for your own protection. If you need to talk to the social worker about something besides these kinds of problems, you may need the consent of a parent.

However, another option is to call a hot line and talk to a counselor who can tell you more about the laws and services in your area. Many will talk to you about your problem and can help you solve those problems or steer you toward someone who can.

Here are some numbers you may try:

ChildHelp USA 1-800-4-A-CHILD
Assists any child or teen with any problem including, but not limited to: running away, physical abuse, sexual abuse. Referrals for children, teens as well as adults. 24 hours.
Youth Development International 24-hour Youth Crisis Hot line 1-800-HIT-HOME
National Runaway Switchboard 800-621-4000
National Drug Abuse Hot Line 800-662-4357
CDC AIDS Info 800-342-2437
National Hot line for Missing & Exploited Children 800-843-5678
Youth Crisis Hot Line 800-448-4663
ADOL: Adolescence Directory On-line
This site has tons of information and links to related sites that may be of help.


Don't wait to get the help you need, especially if you or someone you know is being harmed or in any danger, call immediately!

Best of luck!


LuAnn Pierce, MSW, CMSW
Author of Growing up Sane (in uncertain times)
Seminar Leader Growing Well Adjusted Kids
Editor-in-Cheif Person to Person: Strengthening Youth & Families
Telephone Counselor Affinity Counseling Center
Affinity Books & Resource Center: Your Source for Emotional Wellness


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