The start of a new school year can be exciting, but it can also be hectic and even traumatic for some students and their families. While many families look forward to this time, others are unable to deal with the changes and added stress. Unfortunately, this can lead to higher rates of child abuse and neglect. Another reason why reports of child abuse increase at the start of a school year is because school staff may see signs of abuse. However, school staff may misconstrued a situation.
Has the Pandemic Increased Child Abuse?
The stresses from the coronavirus pandemic have put many children at higher risk of child abuse. Besides all of the health-related problems, children and their parents have experienced constantly changing school schedules, social isolation, problems getting child care, unemployment, and money problems. Teachers are often the ones who observe signs of child abuse and report them.
When the coronavirus pandemic started, child safety advocates claimed that virtual schooling would lead to more unreported cases. A representative from the Alliance for Children claimed that their center experienced a spike in child abuse reports during April and May of 2021.
During the beginning of the pandemic, millions of Americans were living together in crowded homes with limited resources. When the weather was cold and they could not really go outside, children and caregivers were forced to spend countless hours together in small spaces. It is easy to see how this situation could increase stress levels. Now, safety advocates are wondering if returning to in-person classes this fall will go hand-in-hand with increased reports of child abuse.
What are the Different Types of Child Abuse?
Many times, the abuser is someone who the survivor knows and trusts, like a parent, sibling, or relative. Abuse takes different forms and can happen at the same time. The different types of child abuse include:
- Physical abuse: Physical abuse happens when a child is deliberately injured.
- Emotional abuse: Emotional abuse injures a child’s well-being or self-esteem. Examples of emotional abuse include ignoring, rejecting or constantly berating or belittling a child.
- Sexual abuse: Any kind of sexual activity with a child, including sexual contact, exploitation, and exposure to child pornography, is considered sexual abuse.
What are Signs of Child Abuse?
Abused children are often too ashamed or afraid to report what is going on in their household. If they are too young, they may not even realize that they are being abused. Red flags to watch out for include behavioral changes, like becoming withdrawn, hyperactive, angry, or aggressive. Anxiety, depression, and a lack of self-esteem are also common signs of abuse. These children may not want to participate in school activities, get good grades, or they may be afraid to go home after school. Other abuse children may try to run away, are frequently absent from school, act out on school, or attempt self-harm or suicide.
Physical signs of child abuse include burns, bruises, fractures, and other injuries. The abused child or the caregiver may offer an explanation that does not make sense for the type of injury. If the abuse is sexual, children may act inappropriately with their peers, have sexual knowledge or behaviors that are inappropriate for their age, or be pregnant at a very young age.
Emotional abuse can lead to a marked decrease in self-confidence and delayed emotional development. These abused children may appear depressed, seem desperate for affection, and have little or no interest in their classes, friends, or social activities.
Neglected children may exhibit poor hygiene, be overweight or underweight, be often absent from school, or not have proper clothing and supplies. These children may also get sick frequently due to a lack of proper medical care.
Some abusers will openly blame the child for their problems or insult them. They might also show no concern for the child’s well-being. Some abusers limit the child’s contact with other people. Other signs to watch for include inappropriate demands of the child succeeding in their academics or sports, inadequate explanations for the child’s injuries, or harsh, physical discipline in public.
Child abuse and neglect cases are investigated by the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), and they have a 24/7 hotline. Sometimes, there are misunderstandings, especially when allegations are made by unfamiliar teachers and school staff. Although reporting possible child abuse is always encouraged, some parents and caregivers find that they need a qualified lawyer to protect their rights.
Haddonfield DCPP Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Help Clients Accused of Child Abuse and Neglect During the School Year
During the school year, there may more reports of child abuse and neglect. However, some reports are false. If you are involved in a DCPP case and need trusted, confidential legal guidance, contact one of our compassionate Haddonfield DCPP lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker. We will listen to your story and protect your rights. Complete our online form or call us at 856-795-9400 to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.