Child maltreatment includes all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or other. The four types of abuse include: physical, sexual, emotional, and neglect.
In 2008, approximately 1,740 children died in the U.S. as a result of malpractice treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 772,000 children in that same year were found by protective services agencies to be victims of maltreatment. However, since many of these cases go unreported, we can assume that this number is far greater.
What Happens When Possible Abuse or Neglect is Reported?
Any concerned individual can report suspicious child abuse or neglect. Once a report is filed, it is received by child protective services (CPS) workers and are either “screened in” or “screened out”. A report may be screened in when there is sufficient evidence to suggest the investigation is warranted. A report may be screened out if there is not enough information on the situation and it does not meet the State’s legal definition of abuse or neglect. The individuals may be referred to law enforcement for help.
If the report is screened in, the course of action depends on the severity of the maltreatment. There are several options available:
- No or low risk – the family’s case may be closed with no services if the maltreatment was a one-time incident, the child is considered to be safe, or there is no or low risk of future incidents.
- Low to moderate risk – referrals may be made to community-based or voluntary in-home child welfare services if the CPS worker believes the family would benefits from these services and the child’s present and future safety would be enhanced. This may occur when no abuse or neglect is found, if the family needs and is willing to participate in services
- Moderate to high risk – the family may again be offered voluntary in-home services to address safety concerns and help reduce the risks. Once there is judicial determination that abuse or neglect has occurred, juvenile dependency court may require the family to cooperate with-in the home services if it is believed that the child can remain safety at home. If the child has been seriously harmed, the court may order the child’s removal from the home and may be placed in foster care.
How Can We Prevent Child Maltreatment?
Primary Prevention: activities directed at the general population. All members of the community focus to seek and raise awareness of these issues. Universal approaches to primary prevention include public service announcements that encourage positive parenting, parent education programs and support groups, family support programs, and public awareness campaigns that provide information on how and where to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
Secondary Prevention: activities with a high-risk focus offered to the population that have one or more risk factors associated with child maltreatment, such as poverty, parental substance abuse, parental mental health concerns, and parental and child disabilities. Approaches include parent education programs in high schools focusing on teen parents or those within substance abuse treatment, parent support groups that help parents deal with everyday stresses, home visiting programs, care for children with special needs, and family resource centers that offer referral services to families living in low-income neighborhoods.
Tertiary Prevention: activities focused on families where maltreatment has already occurred. These activities may include intensive family preservation services with trained mental health counselors, parent mentor programs, parent support groups that help parents transform negative practices and beliefs into positive parenting behaviors and attitudes, and mental health services for children affected by maltreatment.
Help protect our children and join in on preventing child maltreatment in your neighborhood. Learn more about this national issue.
If your child has been abused or neglected by a caretaker or another individual caring for your child, contact us immediately. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.