Child Abuse And Negligence FAQs
What is child abuse?
Child abuse and child neglect impact millions of children every year in the U.S. It is an epidemic that our Deratany & Kosner attorneys aim to end. Child abuse occurs when a parent or caregiver causes or puts a child at risk for injury, emotional harm or death. There are different types of child abuse, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.
What are the warning signs of abuse?
Sometimes, the signs are obvious. A child has been visibly beaten. A young girl becomes pregnant. Other times, the warning signs are much more subtle. These include:
- Physical abuse warning signs
- Unexplained bruises
- Unexplained injuries (broken bones, burn marks, etc.)
- Sudden change in mood
- Avoiding eye contact
- Flinching at sudden movements
- Fear of adults
- Emotional/psychological abuse warning signs
- Child cries without warning
- Frequent unexplained temper tantrums
- Being extremely quiet or withdrawn
- Child has poor self-esteem
- Poor performance in school
- Extreme behavior (very aggressive or very passive)
- Sexual abuse warning signs
- Stained underwear
- Difficulty sitting or walking
- Frequent bedwetting or nightmares
- Pain in genital area
- Knowledgeable about sexual behavior
- Negligence warning signs
- Child smells offensive
- Unkempt hair
- Disheveled clothing
- Unusual weight loss
- Child constantly hungry
What are examples of child neglect?
There are many different types of child neglect cases. Some of the most common – and most serious – neglect cases include:
- Physical neglect
- Child left unsupervised
- Child left home alone by parents
- Child is not fed enough food
- Parents regularly kicking a child out of the house
- Emotional and psychological neglect
- Not giving child enough attention
- Withholding affection from a child
- Parents being verbally abusive with child
- Verbally threatening a child
- Routinely ignoring child
- Child not registered for school or attending school
- Medical neglect
- Not getting regular medical checkups
- Not giving child medications prescribed by a doctor
- Poor dental hygiene due to lack of dental care
What should I do if I suspect a child is being abused or neglected?
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, we recommend taking the following steps to protect the health and safety of the child:
- Call the police – Law enforcement officials can contact the appropriate social services agency or handle the investigation themselves.
- Do not get personally involved – In other words, do not directly approach the parents and tell them that you think they are mistreating the child. You could put yourself in danger by doing so.
- Call an anonymous hotline – There are many hotlines available to call if you suspect a child is being abused. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has a 24-hour child abuse hotline.
- Simply call 800-252-2873. You do not have to give your name. But you could be making a huge difference in a child’s life.
- Contact a social services agency – Each state has a social services agency created to help protect the health and welfare of children. Contact them and let them know something is wrong.
- Call our law firm – At any point, please contact us right away. We can help you every step of the way.
If you are a professional in the field of health care, education, social work or law enforcement, the state of Illinois requires you to report any suspected neglect or abuse of a child. This includes:
- Police officers
- Daycare workers
- Social service workers