Advocates for Child Abuse Victims
No child should ever be subjected or subjugated to child abuse and/or neglect. Not only do these unethical and cruel acts contribute to severe psychological and behavioral damage in children, but they often create cyclical and permanent problems within children that are difficult to restore/resolve.
Despite the many damaging effects that child abuse and neglect have on vulnerable children, thousands of cases involving child abuse and neglect are reported each year. And many other cases fail to ever be officially documented. Family law lawyers at the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates are strong advocates for children’s rights. At our Gainesville family law firm, we believe that the safety and well-being of children should always be prioritized. If you suspect that a child is a victim of child abuse and/or neglect, you have a duty to protect such child from further subjugation. A family lawyer can help you detect and handle child abuse/neglect cases within the state of Florida.
What Constitutes Child Abuse & Neglect?
Child abuse and neglect are the most common forms of inhumane treatment that many children receive. They both can be seen in various forms. Child abuse is the term given to any act or behavior by a parent, guardian or adult figure for the purposes of providing discomfort, pain or harm to a child. Meanwhile, neglect is the failure of a caregiver to meet the basic needs of a child. Forms of child abuse and neglect can be seen physically, emotionally, sexually and mentally.
Physical abuse is a common form of abuse against children. It involves physical acts such as kicking, pulling, scratching, stomping, punching or pushing children. It may also be seen through the throwing of objects against children and/or forced acts that result in bruising or physical harm.
Sexual abuse includes activities by a caregiver that invades a child’s private areas. For example, fondling, touching and tickling of a child’s genitals is considered child abuse. Incest, sodomy, rape, indecent exposure (usually through forced pronographic participation and/or viewing) and penetration are all common demonstrations of child abuse.
Emotional abuse, also known as psychological abuse, is when a caregiver fails to provide a child with proper love, support, encouragement and guidance. Instead, the caregiver may constantly reject, threaten or criticize the child. Emotional abuse is commonly seen through name calling and personal attacks.
Substance abuse is often seen when a mother utilizes drugs and alcohol while pregnant and/or breastfeeding. Further, exposing children to drugs and alcohol, as well as manufacturing, selling, or distributing drugs and alcohol to children is considered child substance abuse.
Neglect (often described as abandonment) is the term given to caregivers who fail to meet basic needs for their children. Child neglect can be seen physically, medically, educationally and emotionally.
- Physical Neglect (such as lack of food, shelter and supervision)
- Medical Neglect (such as the failure to provide necessary medical treatment, prescriptions, and regular check-ups)
- Educational Neglect (such as the failure to meet a child’s special education needs or refusing to send a child to school)
- Emotional Neglect (such as such as the failure to meet a child’s psychological needs)
In most cases, neglect occurs as a direct result of poverty among families who do not have the means or resources to fulfill their children's needs. However, neglect can occur in any family in cases where parents direct their attention on a “favored” child or are too preoccupied in work/social activities and thus neglect providing the proper supervision and attention to a child.
What To Do If You Suspect Child Abuse
When a child is a victim of child abuse and/or neglect, there are often signs and symptoms that he/she will display. This can be seen through a decline in learning behaviors or educational performance, unexplained bruises, frightened protests and/or cries when around his/her caregiver(s), excessive shyness and isolation, as well as questionable drawings and statements professed by the child.
If you suspect that a child is a victim of child abuse, you should report the incident with the local authorities or at the local child welfare center. Once the suspicion is reported, a child advocate in Gainesville or a social worker will be assigned to the family for investigation. After reporting your suspicion, there is no further duties required of you.
What To Do If You Witness Child Abuse
If you have witnessed child abuse, you are required per Florida law to report the incident in detail with the local authorities or the local child welfare office immediately. Failure to do so is punishable by law. As someone who has witnessed child abuse, you have the power and the ability to end a child’s suffering by reporting it.
After you report the incident, a case will be opened for investigation. It is advisable to hire a family court lawyer to gain insight on child abuse proceedings and to prepare yourself (and your children) for what is to come. Child abuse proceedings often require abused children to report their experiences of abuse/neglect with psychologists, lawyers, police officers and other professionals. Many children fear retaliation from their abusers, and thus, they are hesitant to speak truthly on their experiences. A family law lawyer can help you and the abused child throughout court proceedings.
If you have witnessed child abuse and are not related to the victim, you should still contact a lawyer for guidance and support on testifying and responding to officials who may question your innocence.
Family Law Attorneys in Gainesville, FL
Whether you suspect child abuse, have witnessed child abuse, or desire to understand the complexities of child abuse and court proceedings, you should contact an experienced Gainesville family law attorney at the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates. Our attorneys are well-versed in family law and children’s issues. We have represented numerous families during difficult child abuse and neglect cases and we will do the same for you.
At our firm, we prioritize the safety and wellbeing of children. Schedule a free initial consultation with us today.