No child should have to grow up in an unsafe environment. Anyone can tell you that keeping a child in a caring, nurturing and abuse-free home is a good starting point for any young person. Sadly, we see all too often that not every child is granted the same opportunity to grow up in that kind of environment. Instead, there are those that must endure the trauma of psychological, physical, or even sexual abuse. No form of child abuse is acceptable, but they are not all created equal and each present unique difficulties.
Physical abuse is likely the most commonly thought of form of abuse as it’s the only kind that can show visible signs. Things such as noticing a pattern of regularly occurring injuries like bruises, burns, or even broken bones in a child can be indicators of abuse. There are those that consider the definition of child abuse to be a somewhat murky term. The fact is though, that in eyes of the court, physically beating or assaulting a child is unlawful and subject to legal intervention.
On another note though, other forms of abuse like neglect do not leave effects which are readily visible. The psychological damage of things like neglect and emotional abuse can leave lasting negative impression on a child’s psyche. Neglect can be characterized by a parent or guardian’s lack of necessary attention for essential aspects of care like clothing, food, proper shelter, education, and medical care. Similarly, emotional abuse can take many shapes and forms. They may be verbally degrading remarks to the child or possibly administering punishment which far outweighs the impact of the child’s transgression.
What is potentially the most damaging and difficult thing to talk about related to children is sexual abuse. As many reports and extensive research have demonstrated, it is often very difficult for victims of sexual assault to speak about their experience, especially for children. Too often, there are stories of victims experiencing sexual assault who can’t speak openly about their experience until long after the abuse has ended. Manners of sexual abuse can take the form of anything from non-consensual physical contact, sexually suggestive remarks being made towards the child, to full on sexual intercourse and rape.
Regardless of the way the abuse takes shape in a child’s life, there is no place for it. When a person takes on the role of caretaker, guardian, or parent their child is wholly considered their responsibility. In providing a safe home and caring environment, devoid of abuse a child is granted their best opportunity to thrive and succeed. Child abuse can leave long lasting physical and psychological impacts. Anything from physical scars, emotional and psychological fears that impair daily activities, to depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or any other number of mental health issues.
The Florida Department of Children and Families is the agency primarily tasked with ensuring that children reside in safe, abuse-free homes. If you believe that your child has been abused, or you know a child has been abused, you need to call the Florida Abuse Hotline and report the abuse. You can report abuse online at https://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us/or call 1 (800) 962-2873.
False Child Abuse Allegations
There is also another dark side of abuse that isn’t as readily identifiable – when one parent makes false allegations of abuse on the child and alleges that it is the other parent. It sadly occurs more than people may think. Children are sometimes easily manipulated and will go along with a bitter parent’s plan to accuse the other parent. These allegations of abuse are detrimental to all the parties involved. Sometimes the false allegations of abuse can rise to the level of child abuse itself and is often considered a major factor in identifying parental alienation.
If this is happening in your family law case and you have been falsely accused of abuse or have been the victim of parental alienation, you cannot always rely on the Department of Children and Families to identify this abuse correctly. It often takes quite a bit of time and patience to unravel the deep stories of false allegations of abuse to get the child to the right parent and safe from the psychological abuse of alienation.