Recognizing Signs of Child Abuse
Child abuse is a real problem in Florida, although the numbers have declined in recent years. In 2015, Florida received 217,895 referrals for child abuse and neglect, and 160,733 of those were investigated further. There were 43,775 victims of abuse or neglect, with 54.3% neglected, 9.7% physically abused, and 5.7% sexually abused. Child abuse can take two forms: physical and emotional abuse. Recognizing signs of abuse can go a long way in helping combat future incidents.
Florida became the first state to have a fully mandatory child abuse reporting law in the country. There are different ways to report abuse, and the Florida family law attorneys at our firm can help in family situations where child abuse or neglect is suspected.
Physical Abuse Signs
Physical abuse encompasses a variety of activities that cause physical harm to a child and often leaves visible injuries. Obvious signs of abuse may manifest themselves in broken bones, cuts, bruises, or burns. Harm may result from activities like shaking or beating the child with bare hands, or through use of an object like a belt or hanger. Burning is another sign of physical abuse which may be the result from scalding water or cigarette butts.
Behavioral changes may point towards signs of physical abuse. Watch for kids who are suddenly aggressive or disruptive. Other kids withdraw and become passive, basically “shrinking” when an adult approaches. If a child has a fear of going home or is terrified of being around certain people, that can also be another indicator.
Sexual Abuse Indicators
Sexual abuse can take many forms as well, including child-on-child abuse. More often than not, a sexual abuser is someone the child knows – like a parent, family friend, guardian, or relative. Child-on-child sexual abuse is typically the result of an abused child acting out their abuse on someone else. Physical signs of abuse are spotted during doctors’ visits, and may include behavioral changes as well. Behaviors like withdrawal and depression are common, as well as inappropriate sexual play at their age.
Child neglect also falls under child abuse. Neglect of a child centers around the failure to provide basic needs. This is the case if a child is denied proper shelter, clothing, necessary medical treatment, or even emotional support. Unlike other types of abuse, neglect evolves from a failure to do something for their child. Child neglect is more common than people realize. It can be something as simple as a child being dressed inappropriately, expressing signs of extreme hunger, or have a typically unkempt appearance. Children who do not get timely medical care for an injury or illness are suffering from child neglect as well.
Retaining a Florida Family Law Attorney
Child abuse and neglect can happen anywhere. If you need to report a suspected case of child abuse, you can call the Florida Central Abuse Hotline. If you suspect your own child is not receiving the proper care and attention from the other parent, please contact the Law Offices of Schwartz | White in Boca Raton. Call us at 561.391.9943 and let one of our family law attorneys help you through this difficult time and see how we can help protect your child’s interests.