Harming a child is unthinkable to most people, but it’s an unfortunate fact that children fall victim to abuse every single day. Abuse can occur at the hands of a parent, guardian, teacher, coach, religious leader, among many other individuals.
While you may think identifying abuse is easy, this is not always the case. Many abuse victims make efforts to conceal what’s occurring, either out of fear of reprisal or due to threats afforded by the abuser. That’s why it’s crucial for adults to be able to recognize signs of abuse, even those that are less obvious. This is the first step to getting the child to safety and holding the abuser accountable.
Things to Look for If You Suspect Child Abuse
Different types of abuse can elicit different effects. Also, not all kids will respond to abuse in the same way, which complicates matters even further. However, the following signs are usually indicative of an issue and warrant further investigation:
- Behavioral Problems – While it may seem unrelated, abused children often act out or behave aggressively. This can lead to disciplinary problems at school and at home, such as backtalking, fighting, and an inability to follow the rules.
- Developmental Delays – A child needs a healthy, loving environment to grow. When subject to emotional abuse, which can entail harsh criticisms, insults, or even threats, a child is likely to fall behind peers in numerous areas. They may also have problems socializing with others or suffer from learning disabilities.
- Mental Health Issues – Anxiety and depression are common when children are subject to abusive behaviors from those tasked with protecting them. A child may appear withdrawn or introverted, while also experiencing anxiety when asked to do something that reminds them of the abusive actions.
- Poor Personal Appearance and Hygiene – Neglect is a form of abuse that occurs when parents and guardians don’t provide sufficient care to their children. Neglected children may appear unbathed or in dirty, worn clothing. They may also suffer from malnutrition if they’re not provided sufficient daily meals.
How to Report Abuse to the Authorities
A child may be forthcoming about the abuse occurring to them or they may attempt to sidestep the issue, claiming the abuse is happening to a friend or someone else they know. It’s crucial that adults are kind and compassionate during this period, while also asking the right questions. Questions should surround the basics of who, what, when, where, and how, but not lead the child into making admissions.
Once you have enough information about the situation, you must file a report with the proper authorities. In New Mexico, abuse and neglect reports can be made to the Children, Youth & Families Department. Any person with a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing towards a child is mandated to file a report in a timely manner. Reports can be made anonymously, but reporters are encouraged to leave their contact info in case further information is required.
Where to Turn for Legal Help
The above steps ensure that a child is taken out of an abusive situation as soon as possible. However, victims of abuse also have additional legal recourse when working with a skilled personal injury firm. Our team at Martinez, Hart, Sanchez & Romero, P.C. is dedicated to representing the rights of children in all situations. We’re well-versed in the regulations surrounding child abuse and neglect and we’ll aggressively pursue those individual responsible for mistreating children.
Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation with our firm.