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Child Abuse Laws

Child abuse includes physical and mental harm, neglect, and sexual abuse of a minor, and is prosecuted as a serious crime in every state. The crime typically is prosecuted as assault and battery or child endangerment and can result in the termination of parental rights or incarceration. This sub-section of FindLaw's Family Law Center includes articles and resources to help you understand state and federal child abuse laws, including state-specific summaries of relevant laws; an overview of mandatory reporting requirements for teachers, doctors, and others who may have close access to children; an overview of child abuse cases; and a historical background of child abuse laws in the United States.

Investigation of Child Abuse

An investigation begins when a child protection worker assesses a report and believes that a youth or child may need protection. Investigations of abuse and/or neglect may involve the police, depending on the circumstances. An investigation involves interviews, that could include talking to the child, the parents, brothers siblings, and anyone else who lives in the home, teachers, family doctor. anyone else who may know about it or who the child protection worker thinks is relevant. It may also include a medical examination. If the child protection worker has reasonable grounds to believe the child or youth needs protection and is in immediate danger child protection worker may remove the child.

Mandated Reporters

All States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have statutes identifying persons who are required to report suspected child maltreatment to an appropriate agency, such as child protective services, a law enforcement agency, or a State’s toll-free child abuse reporting hotline. Mandated reporters are required to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment – or cause a report to be made – when, in their professional roles, they are presented with reasonable cause to suspect abuse or maltreatment.

Examples of mandated reporters include social workers, teachers, principals, and other school personnel, physicians, nurses, and other health-care workers, counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals, child care providers, medical examiners or coroners and law enforcement officers

Child Abuse in the United States Today

Child abuse is more common than many people care to believe. In the United States each year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made which involve almost 6 million children. Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Yearly, referrals to state child protective services involve 6.3 million children, and around 3 million of those children are subject to an investigated report.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Help You

Child abuse and neglect can leave scars that last a lifetime. Millions of cases of child neglect and abuse are reported every year in the U.S. The law surrounding accusations of child abuse and neglect is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. It's a good idea to consider speaking to a family law attorney in your area today to learn more.

Learn About Child Abuse Laws