August 10, 2018
According to the legal system, children do not have the mental capacity to care for themselves or make their own choices. Therefore, when anyone in a position of power (parent, custodian, caretaker, legal guardian, etc.) commits any cruelty towards a child, it can constitute child abuse. These cruelties include physical attacks, sexual or mental abuse, exploitation, and neglect. It also means that a Child Abuse Attorney is needed to represent the child’s rights.
Child Abuse Law may vary from state to state, but its core values are the same overall: to hold those who bring harm to children legally accountable for their actions. Depending on the state’s laws & regulations and the severity of the charges, the resulting penalties could be either civil or criminal.
When looking for a Child Abuse attorney, it is essential to know how to define the type of abuse charges. Also, it is important to understand the penalties associated with those charges. To defend the rights of children, you must first know the lay of the law.
Types of Child Abuse
According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), there are four main definable types of child abuse. These four types are physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, and neglect. The W.H.O.’s umbrella term for all abuse, Child Maltreatment, is defined as follows: “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.”
Here are the World Health Organization’s definitions for the different types of Child Maltreatment:
- Physical Abuse: “Physical abuse of a child is defined as the intentional use of physical force against a child that results in – or has a high likelihood of resulting in – harm for the child’s health, survival, development or dignity. This includes hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, strangling, scalding, burning, poisoning and suffocating. Much physical violence against children in the home is inflicted with the object of punishing.”
- Sexual Abuse: “Sexual abuse is defined as the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared, or else that violates the laws or social taboos of society. Children can be sexually abused by both adults and other children who are – by virtue of their age or stage of development – in a position of responsibility, trust or power over the victim.”
- Emotional & Psychological Abuse: “Emotional and Psychological abuse involves both isolated incidents, as well as a pattern of failure over time on the part of a parent or caregiver to provide a developmentally appropriate and supportive environment. Acts in this category may have a high probability of damaging the child’s physical or mental health, or its physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. Abuse of this type includes: the restriction of movement; patterns of belittling, blaming, threatening, frightening, discriminating against or ridiculing; and other non-physical forms of rejection or hostile treatment.”
- Neglect: “Neglect includes both isolated incidents, as well as a pattern of failure over time on the part of a parent or other family member to provide for the development and well-being of the child – where the parent is in a position to do so – in one or more of the following areas: health; education; emotional development; nutrition; shelter and safe living conditions. The parents of neglected children are not necessarily poor. They may equally be financially well-off.”
Penalties of Child Abuse
Depending on the type of harm enacted upon a child, the penalties can vary. Some punishments are misdemeanors, while others are felonies. The kind of harm can also depend on whether the charges become a civil or criminal case. As previously stated, these charges and penalties vary from state to state, so it is always important to research your own states’ laws. This is why hiring a child abuse attorney is vital in making sure the proper actions are taken.
- Fines: Most states impose some sort of fines for child abuse. These fines could range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
- Incarceration: Jail-time is also a frequent penalty for child abuse cases. Misdemeanor child abuse charges can bring up to a year in jail in most states, while felony child abuse charges are much more severe and can reach prison sentences of 10 years or more.
- Probation: This common type of penalty for lesser child abuse crimes, such as verbal abuse or exposing a child to domestic violence, and typically lasts anywhere from 6 months to a year. Violation of probation can often result in fines and incarceration as well.
- Other Legal Limitations: Since the definition of child abuse is wide-ranging, several other routes of legal recourse can be taken to punish child abuse criminals. This includes, but is not limited to, limiting parental visitations, filing restraining orders, requiring therapy or supervision, placing the child in protective services, or removing any or all of a parent’s rights to care for a child.
Hiring a Child Abuse Attorney
One of the challenges in handling these cases is the difficulty of collecting evidence. An accident may involve a young child who hasn’t yet learned to speak. If the injury is caused by someone’s improper behavior, St. Louis accident lawyer Donna Clark Frayne, LLC makes sure responsible parties pay for what they have done. We are dedicated to protecting your child’s rights.
If you or someone you know is in need of hiring a child abuse attorney, then set up a free consultation with Donna Frayne – Missouri’s top personal injury lawyer.