Child abuse and neglect are defined as any form of intentional harm or failure to provide food, shelter, clothing, or medical attention to a child under the age of 18 years old. Parents and caregivers are legally responsible to provide for the needs of the children in their care, and to ensure that they are safe from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
When the parent or caregiver fails to provide for the health and safety of their child, it is the legal responsibility of anyone with knowledge of this abuse to report it to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), formally known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). In some cases, child abuse and neglect can go unreported because those closest to the family do not know what physical and behavioral signs to look for in a child.
Common Forms of Abuse and Neglect
There are several types of child abuse that can take place, with some children suffering several types at one time.
- Physical Abuse: Unexplained broken bones, cuts, lacerations, burns, constraints, and contusions from hitting, pushing, or shaking a child
- Emotional Abuse: Verbal assault, consistent ridicule and criticism, threats of physical violence, isolation, rejection, and disregard of a child
- Sexual Abuse: Any form of inappropriate touching, fondling, or sexual penetration of a child, or using a child for pornographic purposes
- Medical Abuse: Parents or caregivers give false information to medical professionals to gain unnecessary medication for the child
- Neglect: Failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical attention, education, or lack of supervision and inattention to a child’s emotional needs
Common Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect
Children that suffer child abuse or neglect are often hesitant to tell other adults what is going on at home. The following are common signs of child abuse and neglect to look for:
- Aggression, anger, hostility, and hyperactivity
- Drop in school performance
- Frequent absences from school
- Poor hygiene
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Withdrawn or lethargic
- Depression and anxiety
- Obsessive compulsive behaviors
- Self-harm, such as cutting
- Threats or attempts at suicide
- Fear of certain adults or older children
- Unexplained injuries, bruises, or cuts
- Burn injuries
- Promiscuous behavior or sexual knowledge inappropriate for a child’s age
- Delayed emotional development
- Hiding or stealing food
There are also signs to look for in a parent or caregiver that can indicate a child is at risk for abuse or neglect, including:
- Lack of attention or concern for the child
- Unable to recognize the emotional needs of the child
- Over criticizes or blames child
- Insults or belittles the child
- Severe discipline
- Isolates child from others
- Fails to provide lunch or school supplies
Signs that occasionally appear do not necessarily indicate child abuse or neglect, but when one or more symptoms are present on a consistent basis, there is cause for concern.
South Jersey DCPP Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Provide Clients with Representation in DCPP Cases
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, or if you have been contacted by the DCPP for an investigation, call the South Jersey DCPP lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker at 856-210-9776 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation today. Our Cherry Hill, New Jersey offices serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.