There were 3.9 million child maltreatment referral reports received in 2020. In total, these child abuse cases involved 7.1 million children across the United States.
Child abuse and neglect can lead to serious physical and emotional harm or even death. According to the same SPCC report, around 1,750 children die every year from abuse.
What’s telling, though, is that over 90 percent of victims are maltreated by one or both parents. If you suspect that your co-parent or another adult might be abusing or neglecting your children, what are some signs of abuse you can look out for? Keep reading to learn more.
Common Warning Signs of Child Abuse
Child abuse can fall into several categories, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Some common warning signs of abuse in children include:
- Unexplained injuries such as bruises, cuts, and burns
- Cowering or flinching when adults approach
- Inappropriate behavior and language for their age (can be either overly adult-like or overly infantile)
- Behavioral extremes and sudden mood changes
- Withdrawn, incommunicative
While there are many more signs of child abuse, those listed above can often appear across cases regardless of the form of abuse.
Common Warning Signs of Child Neglect
Child neglect occurs when a parent or guardian fails to provide adequate care for the child they’re responsible for. This can involve issues such as unsuitable living conditions, a lack of medical care, or insufficient food. Some warning signs that your child might be the victim of neglect include:
- Poor school attendance
- Lacks important vaccinations, dental care, or medical care
- Lacks sufficient clean and weather-appropriate clothing
- Often unsupervised
- Poor personal cleanliness
Cases of neglect can be difficult to spot if you and your co-parent are separated but share custody. But, it’s also in these situations that neglect is more likely to occur since your children aren’t always under your care.
What Should Parents Do?
If you’re concerned that your child might be the victim of abuse and/or neglect, you should do the following:
Seek Medical Care
Your child’s welfare is the most important issue at hand here. To ensure they get the medical care they might need, your first step should be to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.
In cases of child neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse, there may be physical signs that your doctor can confirm. If you suspect emotional abuse, they may need to refer you to a child psychologist or another kind of specialist.
Seek Legal Representation
US healthcare professionals, teachers, and others have a legal requirement to report all suspected cases of child abuse to the local child welfare agency. If you fail to act on your child’s behalf, the courts may consider you complicit in the abuse or child neglect.
This is why it’s wise to hire an experienced family attorney right away. They’ll help you navigate the complexities of family law to ensure that you and your children get the legal services and support you need.
Cases of Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse and neglect are more common than many people realize. Especially since the statistics only represent the cases that have been reported to the authorities. Across the country, there could be many more innocent children suffering at the hands of their abusers.
But with this information to guide you, you now know what warning signs to look for and what to do should you suspect abuse or neglect.
For more information on child abuse and neglect and your legal responsibilities in this situation, contact us here at Miller Zeiderman LLP today.