Tag: Steps to Take If You Suspect Child Abuse or It Has Been Reported to You

Our team of attorneys is ready to help you through child abuse procedures in Brick

Children who present with certain signs and characteristics often raise questions and concerns by adults, wondering if they may be abused or neglected.

What is the Protocol for Reporting Child Abuse In New Jersey?Child abuse and neglect are unpleasant situations to think about.  Our instinct is to avoid any involvement for fear of retribution by the offending party.  In 2017, 78,322 calls, were made according to Christine Beyer, commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families. That is close to 8,000 calls more than were received in 2015. Most referrals are made by educators, doctors, law enforcement, and a large portion are made by private citizens.  Not every call results in a case of abuse, but attention is paid by the authorities and the Division of Child Protection and Permanency to offer state services which can include counseling, food pantries, parenting classes, and state-subsidized income.

What Are Some Indications of Abuse?

Every child is different, and there is no exact way to determine if they have been abused.  There are, however, a series of behavioral clues which may indicate abuse.  There is a lot of crossover between the kinds of abuse and behaviors.  Some children are abused in multiple ways by the same person.

Some evidence of possible physical/sexual abuse includes bruises, burn marks, broken bones, missing patches of hair, and cuts. Child labor falls under this category, as does purposefully withholding the child from normal social interaction. If a child is aggressive, emotional, doesn’t trust adults, or is afraid of them, they could be victims of physical abuse. Tip-offs for sexual abuse include difficulty walking or sitting, discomfort in the genital area, pregnancy, or STDs, withdrawn or infantile behavior as well as sexual behavior above their actual age, and a poor relationship with peers. Emotional abuse is much more difficult to identify, but some red flags include erratic behavior, violence, lack of appetite, or overeating. Also, tantrums, fear of adults, obsessive tendencies, attention-seeking, or extreme anxiety.

What Are Some Indications of Neglect?

Children who are not attending school regularly or who come without the necessary supplies to conduct their lessons may be considered neglected.  More obvious signs are children whose clothes are dirty or torn or other signs of poor hygiene. Constant hunger, thirst, or fatigue can also indicate neglect—failure to regularly seek regular medical and dental treatment or specific treatments for chronic illnesses.

What Is Considered Abandonment?

Obviously, the clearest example of abandonment is when a minor is left alone; however, failing to protect and safeguard the child from risks and failing to keep control and custody of the child, be that with family or strangers.

How Is Cruelty Different?

Cruelty includes severe corporal punishment, inflicting physical or emotional pain, omission by allowing a child to be mentally or physically harmed, or exposing a child to unnecessary hardship, fatigue, or mental or physical strains.

How Do I Report Child Abuse?

If you have reasonable cause to believe that a child is being mistreated, contact the Division of Child Protection & Permanency (formerly called the Division of Youth & Family Services) Child Abuse Hotline (State Central Registry): 1-877-NJ ABUSE – 1-877-652-2873  If it is an emergency, always call 911.

What Information Should I Include In The Call?

What Information Should I Include In The Call to Report Abuse of Children in NJ?State Central Registry call agents are trained caseworkers who know how to respond to child abuse/neglect reports. You should include the following information:

o Who: The names of the abuser and the abused, as well as the child’s parents/custodial guardians

o What: The kind and how often the suspected abuse/neglect, physical or emotional indications of the abuse have occurred.

o When did the purported misdeed/neglect happen, and when were you made aware of it?

o Where: The location of the occurrence, the kid’s current location, and if the accused offender has access to the kid.

o How: The urgency of the need for assistance and whether the child is in imminent danger.

Am I civilly or criminally liable for reporting abuse?

Anyone who discloses child abuse or neglect is not subject to criminal or civil responsibility due to their actions. Also, if the caller loses their job due to reporting the abuse, legal procedures can be followed to return them to work or receive payment for lost wages. Calls can be placed to the hotline anonymously also.

Is it against the law to fail to report suspected abuse/neglect?

Someone who does not report suspected abuse or neglect can be fined $1,000 and sentenced to spend six months in jail.  Any public education worker, hospital worker, psychologist, or others considered members of the health community who fail to report abuse can be terminated.

What happens after I make the call?

When a child is identified as at-risk or abused, an investigator from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency will investigate within 24 hours of receiving the report.

Contact a Child Abuse Lawyer serving Jersey Shore Communities Today

If you have been accused of child abuse or are facing child welfare allegations, you must seek legal representation as soon as possible.  At the Bronzino Law Firm, our team is equipped to take care of your case in a manner that is professional and experienced.

You are not alone. Call  (732) 812-3102 today for a confidential consultation about your case.  We are on your side.

Child Abuse Attorneys in Ocean and Monmouth County New Jersey Courts

Serving clients throughout Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey

According to NJ Rev Stat § 9:6-8.21 (2013), child abuse is the non-accidental physical, mental or emotional injury, sexual abuse, or negligent treatment of a child by a person responsible for a child’s welfare. This means that a parent or caregiver (of a child under 18 years of age) acts or fails to act in such a way that causes:

Child Abuse Attorneys in Ocean and Monmouth County New Jersey

  • physical injury
  • risk of death or disfigurement
  • impairment of emotional or physical health
  • inappropriate sexual contact or content
  • abandonment
  • isolation
  • neglect and/or
  • deprivation.

This may also include failing to supply adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, medical or surgical care though the caregiver may be financially able, and cases of neglect.

Minimum Degree of Care

NJ Statute NJSA 9:6-8.9 defines a neglected child as a child whose physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as a result of the failure of his/her parent or guardian to exercise a minimum degree of care. Examples of this are: willfully failing to provide proper and sufficient food, supervision, clothing, maintenance, regular school education as required by law, medical attendance or surgical treatment, and a clean and proper home although though one is financially able.

NJ gets 78,000 child-abuse calls a year, and it’s trending upward

A recent article stated that over the past 4 years, the number of calls to New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families’ child abuse hotline has been rising steadily. Despite this disturbing trend, and even though the primary sources of child abuse referrals in New Jersey are from schools, hospitals, and law enforcement, not all calls result in investigations.

New Jersey is home to close to 2 million children and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure they are safe from abuse. Child abuse occurs in all kinds of families, regardless of race, ethnic background, socio-economic status, or religious beliefs. The most common perpetrators of child abuse are mothers, fathers, relatives, babysitters, and non-related household members. The actual statistics related to child abuse are often considered underestimates due to a failure of diagnosis by medical personnel or underreporting of the problem.

Steps to Take If You Suspect Child Abuse or It Has Been Reported to You

New Jersey State Law, requires that any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or acts of abuse, or neglect should immediately (i.e., “right now”) report this information to the State Central Registry (SCR). If the child is in imminent danger of abuse or neglect, you are required by law to call 911 as well as the Child Abuse Hotline 1-877 NJ ABUSE (1-877-652-2873). As a concerned caller, you do not have to be sure or have proof that abuse has taken place to contact the Child Abuse Hotline. Once a report highlights that there is a risk to a child an investigation will be carried out by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency who will investigate the allegations of abuse within 24 hours.

Having reasonable suspicion is enough to trigger a report. Any person who, in good faith, makes a report of child abuse or neglect or testifies in a child abuse hearing resulting from such a report is immune from any related criminal or civil liability as a result of such action.

Contact a Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Lawyer in Ocean County Today

Child abuse and domestic violence lawyer Peter J. Bronzino, Esq. has extensive experience serving clients in sensitive criminal family matters throughout Ocean County towns such as Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey. Our firm believes in keeping clients informed and involved throughout the legal process so that we can deliver uniquely personalized legal solutions. If you are looking for an attorney who will passionately and aggressively defend your legal rights as a victim of abuse or other legal proceedings, look no further.

Experienced Bronzino Law Firm, LLC attorneys can enlist the help of physicians, mental health experts and psychologists to build the most compelling case in order to provide an effective defense for you.

Contact us online or through our Brick, NJ offices by calling (732) 812-3102 today for a free and confidential consultation regarding your legal concerns and the role that a history of abuse has had on you and your family.