We understand that abuse and neglect can be a very difficult situation to deal with, regardless of whether it’s occurring in the home or outside of it (i.e. school, church, care facility). But, when the violence involves a child or teenager, you must realize they do not have the choice of avoiding the confrontation, moving out or ignoring the pain and suffering they are being forced to encounter. One of the most important things you can do is say something, whether it is to a person close to the family experiencing the abuse or neglect or to the appropriate authorities, not talking to anyone will never solve the problem.
Child abuse and neglect have the potential to inflict lifelong effects for victims, including their well-being. Although their physical wounds may heal, there are a number of long-term consequences after experiencing traumatic abuse or neglect. Childhood trauma cause cognitive delays, emotional difficulties as well as negatively affecting nervous systems and immune system development.
Abuse and neglect is not restricted to the home; children can also be physically and emotionally abused by teachers and others in a position of power outside the home, including churches, nursing homes, long term care centers, day care providers, and disabled children centers, to name a few.
Below is a list of disturbing facts relating to child abuse, neglect and injuries:
- Over 68,000 children were abused or neglected in 2012 (16 out of every 1,000 children)
- About 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn 18
- NYS had, on average, almost 24,000 children in foster care in 2012
All of the following could be strong signals a child is experiencing abuse or neglect from a parent or legal guardian:
- Sudden changes in behavior and/or school performance
- Did not receive proper attention for physical or medical problems that were brought to the parents’ (or guardians) attention
- Learning problems or difficulty concentrating that may not be attributed to physical or psychological causes
- Seems to always be preparing for something bad to happen, always watchful
- Lacks adult supervision
- Overly compliant, passive or withdrawn
- Arrives early and wishes to stay later at school or other activities instead of going home
- Reluctance to be around a certain person
- Reports maltreatment
Possible signs that abuse and neglect are occurring outside the home:
- Wary of contact from any adult other than his or her own parents or legal guardians
- Extremely uneasy when other children cry
- Overly hesitant to meet new adults
- Unusual fearfulness, inhibited play
- Comes home with unexplained
- marks, bruises and/or cuts – abrasions, burns, broken arms, black eyes, scratches, bite marks, to name a few
- Demonstrates sexual knowledge, curiosity or behavior beyond their age
- Increasing secretive and wanting to be alone much of the time
Signs a caregiver or person with authority over a child may possibly be subjecting them to abuse or neglect:
- Gives conflicting, unconvincing or no explanation for bruising or injuries
- Describes child in a very negative way
- Belittles child
- Seems indifferent to your child
- Apathetic, depressed or abuses alcohol/drugs
- Behaves irrational
- Secretive or isolated; acts jealous/controlling when child is with family members
- Harsher than usual punishments (excessive or inappropriate discipline)
- Uncomfortable with you dropping by at any time (only wants scheduled/planned visits)
Here are a few tips on what you should do:
- Remain calm, do not express disbelief, shock or panic
- Talk in a private place
- You are a listener, not an investigator- let the child talk in his or her own words/language, ask enough questions to act protectively but do not conduct any form of interview
- Let them know they have done the right thing by telling you
- Be sure to relay to them that what has happened is not their fault. “You’re not in trouble” and “If I look or sound upset it is only because adults want children to feel safe” are reassuring things to say to make them feel better
Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)
The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), (42 U.S.C.A. §5106g), as amended and reauthorized by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:
“Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”
Citation: Social Service Law § 371
‘Abused child’ means a child younger than age 18 whose parent or other person legally responsible for his or her care:
- Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon such child physical injury by other than accidental means that causes or creates a substantial risk of death, serious or protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of physical or emotional health, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ
- Creates or allows to be created a substantial risk of physical injury to such child by other than accidental means that would be likely to cause death, serious or protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of physical or emotional health, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ
Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 371
‘Neglected child’ means a child younger than age 18 whose physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as a result of the failure of his or her parent or other person legally responsible for his or her care to exercise a minimum degree of care:
- In supplying the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, or medical or surgical care, although financially able to do so or offered financial or other reasonable means to do so
- In providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship
- By unreasonably inflicting or allowing harm to be inflicted, or a substantial risk thereof, including the infliction of excessive corporal punishment
- By misusing drugs or alcoholic beverages to the extent that he or she loses self-control of his or her actions
- By any other acts of a similarly serious nature requiring the aid of the court
Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 371
The term ‘abused child’ includes a child younger than age 18 whose parent or other person legally responsible for his or her care commits, or allows to be committed, an act of sexual abuse against such child, as defined in title H, article 130, of the penal law.
Citation: Family Court Act § 1012
‘Impairment of emotional health’ and ‘impairment of mental or emotional condition’ includes a state of substantially diminished psychological or intellectual functioning in relation to, but not limited to, such factors as failure to thrive, control of aggressive or self-destructive impulses, ability to think and reason, acting out, or misbehavior, including incorrigibility, ungovernability, or habitual truancy; provided, however, that such impairment must be clearly attributable to the unwillingness or inability of the respondent to exercise a minimum degree of care toward the child.
Be part of the solution, not the problem.
Talk about it! Speak with others about child abuse and neglect, your family, friends, church, community, workplace or anywhere else you may find yourself- it’s everyone’s responsibility to help protect our children. Change can be created by engaging in conversation that encourages dialogue and efforts to build safe environments.
Are you a young person living in a home with domestic violence? Please read this opening letter about young people growing up with domestic violence by Brian F. Martin, author of INVINCIBLE.
Are you dating someone you feel is being (or potentially could be) physically or verbally abusive? For information on dating abuse, please visit Break the Cycle.
Let Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP Help Protect You or Your Loved One
In order to prevent the abuse and neglect of children, our community needs widespread support from each and every member. Remember, you could be the reason someone decides to do something nice for children.
If you believe you, a friend, a family member or anyone under the age of 18 has been abused (either physically or mentally) or neglected, saying nothing will not help your/their situation; speak up and say something. Our child abuse lawyers at Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP® are dedicated to helping members of the community with their legal rights. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out what we can do to assist you. Call us toll-free, 24/7 at 1.800.LAW.1010® (1-800-529-1010).
Injuries at School
To parents’ dismay, there are a number of day care centers that operate without a license. Before sending your child off to be cared for under someone else’s supervision, be sure to do some research on the facility. Are they properly licensed and up to date on their training? Is there an adequate ratio of staff members to children?
The safety and well-being of your child should be the top priority of the center or school, and providing a safe environment to play is included. Although we’d all like to think otherwise, not all injuries that occur under the supervision of another adult are simply accidents. If your child has been injured, as parents or guardians, you may have the legal right to seek compensation when your child has sustained an injury while on a playground. Call the school injury attorneys of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP® today to see if you have a claim.
Injured children are provided additional protection from New York laws in a couple of different ways. One law regards a series of industry standards of how playground equipment must be installed, following specific guidelines to help protect children from falling off equipment and also lessen the severity of an injury if a fall has occurred. More specifically, a center or school must:
- Keep the area underneath and around where a child might fall (the fall zone) clear of other equipment and obstacles that may incur additional damages
- Provide adequate supervision of students
- Properly train staff and have them positioned in a way to constantly observe playing children
- Follow height limits of new equipment
- Install equipment over shock absorbing surfaces (such as bark, wood chips or shredded rubber for cushioning impacts)
- Keep children from climbing and playing with equipment in an improper manner
The daycare center, school or municipality could be held liable for any injuries sustained if any of the aforementioned laws are not properly followed and executed regularly.If your child has been injured in any way under the supervision of a third party, please do not hesitate to contact the Plattsburgh, NY school injury lawyers of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP®, The Heavy Hitters®. Call now for your free consultation at (518) 561-1010, or call us toll free at 1800LAW1010® (1-800-529-1010).